Prank Cancelled Classes at One-Room Schoolhouse

Child’s prank filled one-room schoolhouse with smoke.

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Box Elder, South Dakota, is eight miles east of Rapid City and in 1936 about a dozen families lived there but the one-room schoolhouse served a wider area of ranches.

I got up early one day with the idea of plugging the chimney so we couldn't have school and to tease the teacher. A dumb idea, but I didn't think about it at age 12. I climbed to the roof, dragging a bale of hay, and stuffed it in the chimney. When our hard-working teacher lit the stove, smoke filled the room and school was cancelled that day. Later, when she found out who did it, she talked my Dad out of a razor strap treatment. I never forgot her and the gentle lesson of forgiving kindness she taught me.

I was well served by the one-room school system in South Dakota. I am still with the girl I married there 50 years ago.

The Midwest doesn't have the idle dreams of the Sun Belt or the aggressive materialism of the Silicon Valley...it has much more.

William Kunkle
Eugene, Oregon


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.