The teacher in our one-room schoolhouse often received a special initiation at the new school.
This young teacher from the east was very thrilled to get a school in an old, almost deserted western mining camp. The school boasted 11 pupils, and everyone knew everyone else in camp.
The third day of school the teacher opened the top drawer of her desk and a big, fat wharf rat jumped out in her lap. For the next few minutes everyone played a game of "find the rat."
The game ended when someone dealt the rat a fatal blow with the iron poker, and school was again in normal session. The teacher had asked a few casual questions and made a few shrewd deductions of her own about how that live rat just happened to be in her tightly-closed desk drawer.
At recess time she headed for the girls' room in the trees out back. But she went right on past it, and came to a house where a bachelor lived. He was in the habit of leaving a kettle of food cooking on the big cast iron stove so he would have a meal ready when he returned from work. This day when he returned from work he added some fuel to the smoldering coals. He washed up and moved the coffee pot to the front of the stove, and set the table and took his plate to the stove for his hot supper.
He took the lid off the kettle and there, right on top, was a well-cooked wharf rat.
After that the little tender-footed teacher from the east never did find another rat in her desk.
Ola M. Hughes
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.