After thirty-one years of classroom teaching, then retiring from the profession, I recall my first and one of my most pleasurable experiences of fifty-two years ago. It was in a one-room rural school. It really seems as if it were only yesterday that it took place as I sit here reminiscing.
In October we studied about Columbus, and made stories and decorations as we read his history.
On November 11, we stopped everything for a few minutes of meditation and silent prayer, to remember the soldiers who gave their lives and fought during World War I. We had this memorial at 11 a.m. because that was the time the Armistice was signed. It was called Armistice Day, but is now called Veterans’ Day. We made decorations for this day and for Thanksgiving Day later in the month.
In November we also had a box supper and school program with the participation of the children. Each lady who attended brought a decorated box to the supper. In this box she had some delicious food. After the program, the boxes were auctioned and the highest bidder of each box had the privilege of eating that food with the lady who owned the box. This was an exciting occasion for everyone concerned. Usually the gentleman did not know whose box he bid on, unless someone cheated. The proceeds from the boxes were used for Christmas treats of candy, nuts and fruit.
At these night programs we had no electric lights. Gasoline lanterns were brought by several people and these were hung from the ceiling.
One thing indelibly stamped on my mind during this December, 1941, was what happened on December 7, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and World War II began. The next morning, on Monday, I can still visualize the picture at school, with the students and me gathered around our “Warm Morning” heating stove. We were quite concerned about our soldier friends and relatives.
In February we enjoyed a lovely Valentine Party. Each child and I had put our valentines to be given to others in a large box that I had decorated. We played some quiet games like Bingo, checkers and dominoes, as we did on cold days when we could not play outside. The older children passed the valentines. Each one was anxious to see his own and to see who gave him one. Refreshments of cookies and hot chocolate were served at the close of the party just before we went home.
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.