Old Barn Was Child's Haven on the Family Farm

An old barn and a bit of imagination made a wonderful play area for a child growing up during World War II

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Looking back on my life as a boy around the year 1944, the very first thing that comes to mind is the old barn. I used it for more things than it was designed for. Our old barn was built from rough, unpainted lumber with cracks in it that had spread as they dried. As I remember the lower floor had six stalls. We used two stalls to keep the plow mules in, one for a cow, and another for visitors' animals or a calf if we happened to have one. One of the two stalls on the east end was used for equipment work and storage, and the second one was used to store peanuts or sometimes to dry potatoes. The loft or upper part was my domain.

As a young boy, it seemed the loft was a whole different world. We had one section with baled hay. One section had raked hay. One section would have cottonseed or corn if our crib was overfilled.

In the section that had the baled hay, I made secret passages that I thought no enemy could possibly locate. I could go all the way through the maze to portholes through the cracks on the north side. There, with my make-believe weapons, I could protect the fort. In the part with the loose hay I could dive from the upper rafters or I would jump from my bomber, aflame over enemy territory. I would have corncobs hidden in many different places for the battle that would take place on Sunday after church and lunch.

The most important part of my old castle was the role it played as an escape from pressures. Even now when I see a barn on a rainy or dreary day, it really carries me back. I can remember sitting on the hay in the cool rain, looking out over a peaceful day. I would watch the rain and many thoughts would cross my mind, including how many of my cousins and uncles would return from the war alive. I would wonder if the war would last long enough for me to be a part of it or if the enemy won what they would do to us here. Those question have all been answered now, but many still remain unanswered. I wonder if we could think through most of them if the old barn still stood.

Clyde J. Posey
Cleveland, Alabama


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.