My maternal grandparents lived on the old homestead about two and a half miles from where we lived. Two of my aunts and an uncle still lived with them. When my parents went to town shopping, my three older brothers and I would stay with them.
I can remember one Saturday afternoon when I was about 4 years old, I wanted to go to town with my parents instead of staying on the family farm with my grandparents. I started to cry and make a fuss. Grandma reached into the pocket of her black-and-white checked apron and gave me a pink peppermint candy. It soothed my hurt feelings.
The kitchen was the center of activity. I remember the tan-and-green cookstove that burned wood and cobs. There was a long table in the center that could seat 10 people. A cupboard with glass doors on the top part sat in a corner. I could see the pretty dishes in there. An open shelf in the middle held a tin box of buttons, mending supplies and the latest papers and periodicals. There was a bucket with a dipper in it that sat on a bench by the window that held drinking water. The water was very hard, as the inside of the bucket was coated with lime.
The pantry off the kitchen interested me the most. There were shelves on one side and a table in the corner. A coffee grinder was fastened to the wall by the door. Aunt Martha let me turn the handle on the coffee grinder to make coffee for supper. I really felt I was a big girl when I could do that. There was a big crock jar covered with a dish towel that held cookies. Gingersnaps were my favorite. On the table was a long, store-bought summer sausage. Aunt Martha cut slices of homemade bread from the loaf in the bread box to make sandwiches with the sausage. With some of the cookies, this was afternoon lunch for my brothers and me. The summer sausage was a real treat for us, as we did not have that kind of meat at home.
To keep me entertained Aunt Amie gave me some thread and a needle to string buttons. I would go through the tin box and pick out the prettiest ones. When I had several buttons on the thread I wore it as a necklace. This was the first thing that I showed my mother when they returned from town.
Later in life I had a button collection, and I still like pink peppermint candy.
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.