Outhouses! What pungent memories the topic arouses. Not only because of their obvious purpose, but also from the conferences that took place there.
I was the sentinel just outside the door of ours during my sixth through ninth years after the huge family dinners. My mother and aunts would go two by two through the garden gate, along a path having the grape arbor on one side and beds of dill and sage on the other, until they reached the sanctuary of the outhouse in the lower corner. They took me along so I could let them know if anyone was approaching as they gossiped about all the other relatives; what they wore, what dishes they had brought to the dinner, how they looked and how their children behaved. This went on until every possible combination of women had discussed the others. Sometimes two would stay too long and two others would have to stop along the path to make their observations. Seeing me posted at the door would alert them to keep out of hearing distance.
If these conferences could have been taped and played back, they surely would have put an end to the infamous institution of family dinner.
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.