There were six of us, four boys and two girls. We were born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. As the older children were getting on toward their teenage years, my father decided to buy a farm and move us there, as he thought the city might not be the best environment for us to grow up in. Our family farm had a house, a barn, a chicken coop and everything else a typical farm has. We liked it and thrived on the fresh air and freedom. Beside the six of us kids, our great-uncle lived with us, so that made nine that Mom had to cook and wash for and tend to.
I can't remember any of us ever being hungry. My dad hunted and fished. Mom disliked game and fish but she could cook it really great. Mom baked nine loaves of bread every other day, as well as cinnamon rolls. There is nothing like coming home from school and smelling that special odor and tasting those delicious rolls. We also had lots of homemade soup-not just a pan of it, but a huge pot cooked on the wood stove.
On this farm we had chickens, a couple of cows, a pony and some pigs. Dad wasn't home so the animals gave the six of us something to do. My four brothers were something else. One day they were in the woods and came home with three young skunks-where the mother was I don't remember-but the skunks needed a mother, so we put them in with some kittens that were just born, and low and behold the mother cat took them like they were her own, nursing them and caring for them. Some of you won't believe this, but we also had an old setting hen who needed to do some mothering, so when the cat got off the nest, the hen got on and thought she had chicks under her. The Erie Daily News came one day and took pictures of the skunks in the nest, and had a little write-up in the paper about the strange doings on our farm.
We didn't have a swimming pool, but it doesn't take kids long to find out that swimming in the creek will suffice just fine when it is hot and humid. Besides, swimming there probably saved us getting the galvanized tub out and heating the water to take a bath.
Our life on the farm taught us to get along together and showed us that we could do without a lot of fancy things in life. We all came out the better for our experiences and the love that our parents gave us.
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.