I began my career as a teacher in a one room school in the early forties. I was fresh out of high school where normal Training was taught, which meant you spent your last two years of high school cramming all the techniques needed for teaching as well as the subject matter to be taught into a two-year program.
Every December the student body would put on a Christmas program. The teacher would purchase books in which were written Christmas plays and poems. Then parts were assigned and each student had to memorize their character’s speaking part in the short plays plus Christmas songs. The younger students would receive poems and recitations to memorize. More often than not each student would be in several plays and have speaking parts in them as well. I always felt this was very good for their minds. The memorization helped train their minds to retain facts taught in their regular classes. At the close of the hour-long program Santa would appear and pass out gifts that the teacher had for each student as well as the gifts the students gave each other. To ensure each student receiving one gift, names were drawn which often led to moans as a boy would draw a girl’s name from the hat or a girl drawing a boy’s name. Everyone was remembered this way. The teacher gave a gift to each child and received a gift from each child. The gifts given were about $1.00 in value and the teacher received a lot of bath powder, stationery and the like.
Teaching was a very rewarding experience as by teaching all eight grades a teacher could observe children of all ages growing in knowledge and developing social skills from their contact with children of various ages.
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.