Big Happy Family In One-Room School

Those of us who attended a one room country school often speak of our relationship as being like one big happy family, forgetting that discord also occurs in families. As the only beginner I was an easy target for some of the bigger kids to “pick on” during recess. As in a biological family, one of the older girls took on the role of my protector and taught me the coping techniques that I would use throughout my life when dealing with bullies and other nasty types.

We country grade school children always looked forward to our annual Halloween party. During the previous week we’d spend our free moments cutting out silhouettes of jack-o-lanterns and cats for window decorations. We’d save the scraps of orange and black construction paper to make long chains that were hung from corner to corner of the ceiling.

The main event at our party was the costume contest. Because no one purchased ready-made costumes, we were very creative with sheets, old clothes, pillows, etc. Even our masks were homemade from paper sacks using dried corn silk as hair or beards.

Roasting marshmallows and bobbing for apples were two traditional activities at our parties.

The Halloween party was a festive time that brought out the spirit of creativity!

Helen Van Zante Boertje
Pella, Iowa

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.