When I was a teenager in the’ 40s, living on a family farm, neighbors were very far apart. Our closest neighbors were about three-quarters of a mile away as the crow flies. They and my parents helped each other in any way they could, such as working with horses or working in the fields together.
The event that stands out clearly in my mind was butchering time. It was so cold out, and heating the water to scald an animal was a chore in itself. Cutting up the meat with no electricity was a hard, messy job. We canned what we could, then ground the lard down and rendered it, which meant melting it down. It was dangerous working with the hot grease. Eating the fresh meat came next-that was the good part. Frying fresh liver to eat with some home-baked bread and butter-with a little slice of onion if you wanted-nothing ever tasted so good.
Many times we walked across the fields to our neighbors’ house for homemade ice cream, and sometimes they came to our house. A flashlight was our only light to get back home; there were no space lights around to guide you. If the moon was shining it was a big help. I was always worried about stepping on a snake, but I never did.
Clay Center, Kansas
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.