Family Farm: Going to Country School

An Iowa man remembers walking to a country school from his family farm and picking flowers

| Good Old Days

My story begins in the 1930s when I was going to a country school for the first years of my education. The school was a little over a mile from our family farm. The only road to get there could hardly be called a road. It was more like a grass path, and I can't remember a snow plow opening it in the winter.

Today all the controversy over half-day or all-day kindergarten seems ridiculous to me. We had kindergarten and first grade all in one year and thought nothing of it. This allowed me to graduate from high school at 16 and immediately move into helping make a farming operation a success. My wife and I are still on the same farm, which has now been in the family for well over 100 years.

The old country school is long gone, but the memories of it are still very much alive. Since it was easier to walk across the fields than to go on the old road, this is what my brother and I did, every day, no matter how deep the snow.

These walks were a perfect opportunity for a small boy to pick wild flowers on land that was not farmed at that time. I soon found I pleased my parents by doing this, so I did it often. Later I pleased my wife by taking time to pick flowers for her too. My grand-children enjoy getting in on the act nowadays. My parents have been gone physically for some time, but their boy still takes flowers from the fields and garden to their graves many times a year, even up until the snow flies. As long as the good Lord is willing, I am going to continue for my wife and the memory of my parents.

Virgil Denner
New Hampton, 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. 

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