Iowa Farm Memories: Play and Household Chores on the Family Farm

Arizona man recalls his happy childhood on an Iowa farm, the hard work and the games he played with other children

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I grew up on an Iowa farm along with two brothers and three sisters during the late teens, '20s and '30s. Our 420-acre farm, which was under the control of my father and mother, was a completely diversified operation.

Our dad's main interest was livestock and the planting and harvesting of crops. Mom's was household chores, gardening, canning and care of a growing family of six children, of which I was the third. The precious memories of those first 18 years are without a doubt the ones that I hold most dear, and the best of my 78 years on this earth.

We kids had fun growing up, but we also had our share of chores and work to perform. There was always time for play and we were given free reign to use our imaginations in any constructive way to build "toys" or whatever for us and the neighbor kids to use.

One thing in particular that provided amusement and fun for the Hager Kids as well as our peers in the neighborhood was an old, stripped-down buggy that had seen better days. We removed the shaves, the box and seats, leaving nothing but the wheels and frame to hold it together. A long, light link chain was fastened to the axle near each front wheel to steer this contraption as you would guide a horse. We would push it out to a pasture that had a steep hill, where we would coast down at what we considered dangerous speeds. There were moving hazards to avoid, such as pigs and calves, which made the ride even more thrilling.

All the neighbor kids, including us, enjoyed winter sports, such as ice skating and sledding down that same hill. We also enjoyed horseback riding.

Were we happy? You bet we were. We took everything for granted and were satisfied with what we had. As the old saying goes, "Who could ask for anything more."

Francis E. Hager
Sun City, Arizona

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.