If we were to say "sweeping compound" to a modern-day student, it would be as meaningless to him as "floppy disc" would have been to us, but this mixture of oil and sawdust was necessary for cleaning the old pine floors in early schoolhouses. The one-room teacher, who was also the fire-builder, stoker and janitor, would scatter the compound over the floor and then sweep it out along with the dust it gathered up along the way.
The old 2-hole privies with their Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs were just the same when I went to school as they were when I taught, except that by my teaching years, real toilet paper had replaced the catalogs.
Three treasures of my father's school days have survived until now: his slate and two copies of McGuffey's Fifth Reader. My own school days began with a Winston Primer, a lead pencil and a Big Chief writing tablet. I don't think anyone below the fourth grade was allowed to own ink bottles and pens that had to be dipped in ink. Needless to say, blotters were a very necessary part of our equipment.
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.