One corner of a gravel road intersection held a small white-painted building which housed eight grades of farm children – a one-room schoolhouse. In summer the grass grew tall around it, the swing chains blew and tangled in the overhead bar and the flag rope banged its metal end against the pole in ringing loneliness.
One last spring session stands out in my memory as we had a particularly progressive teacher that year. For the first time in my life I worked with clay. Its changing properties fascinated me: how it could go from a cold brittle ball to something malleable and responsive to my manipulating fingers.
Rolling the clay into long snakes I soon began to experiment with coils until I had a sort of small mat and then began to build sides around it edges. As it took shape before me I forgot everything else, lost in what was happening before me.
The teacher had been quite supportive of my efforts, especially when she found I had never touched clay before. But at the school display of accomplishments, my mother wanted to know what it was, to which I replied that it wasn't anything but just something I made.
In the typical farm fashion of that time she of course felt that it had to be something or have some purpose, it could not just be. So I searched my mind and called it a round house.
I could see my teacher hovering protectively in the background looking encouragingly on but unable to say anything. So I stuck to my story and called it a round house in spite of the fact that everyone was saying there were no such things.
The teacher and I talked about art and she let me know that things do not always have to have a name and that they can just be for their own sake. Not everything has to have a purpose or use.
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.