Open Session: November/December 2009

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BIRTHDAY WISHES: This is a copy of the letter - in Mr. Capper's handwriting - that he enclosed in the card he sent when I was a newborn living in Osage City, Kansas, in 1930.
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REMINDED OF MOTHER: Sylvia Riepen’s mother, Glenola Hamachu, enjoyed life to the fullest. This photo of her feeding Sylvia’s llamas was taken in 2007, when she was 102.
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ONE SMART COW: While visiting my brother in Cushing, Wisconsin, he took me for a ride around his farm, and we came upon this cow providing shade for her calf. What an intelligent cow.

Birthday Wishes

CAPPER’S has been a part of my life since I was born, and I can recall many changes over the years. I look forward to each and every issue, and although I will miss getting a magazine each month, I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

This is a copy of the letter – in Mr. Capper’s handwriting – that he enclosed in the card he sent when I was a newborn living in Osage City, Kansas, in 1930. The original is in my baby book, and I cherish it. It is almost 79 years old and is in like-new condition.

I wish you all the best with the latest changes to CAPPER’S.

Eva Banks – Independence, Kansas

We’re always interested to hear from folks who have a little history of CAPPER’S in their midst, Eva. Thanks for sharing this prized possession with us. – Editors

Farm-Grown Christmas Gifts

First, I want to say that I grew up with CAPPER’S WEEKLY, and my father always admired Sen. Arthur Capper.

Christmases from long ago still come to mind, though they don’t really resemble today’s holidays, which are full of sparkling wrap and Santas that grow more ornate and meaningless every year.

A special Christmas for me was in 1931. The nation was struggling because of the Depression, and families barely had enough money for food and clothing, much less for Christmas gifts.

I don’t know how my parents managed to save enough money that year to buy small gifts for our family, but they did. Our neighbors a mile to the west were more desperate, and my mother had told me that their three children were not getting any presents, because their father was ill and was unable to work.

When I heard that news, I came up with a plan.

My father had bought material for new cotton sacks that year. I don’t know what the proper name for the material was, but we called it “ducking.” Anyway, my mother had made new sacks for us earlier in the year, and I remembered that there were some scraps left.

I was 11 years old, and I asked Mama if I could have the scraps. She said I could, and she even permitted me to use her new sewing machine, which was a great privilege. So, I gathered up the scraps and began my work. I made three beanbags, and we filled them with dry pinto beans we had raised on the farm.

On Christmas Eve, my mother and I walked to our neighbors’ house and presented them with the gifts. I can’t remember much of their surprise or happiness, but I will always remember my happiness at being able to bring a bit of Christmas to them.

Aleta Lutz – Manor, Texas

What a wonderful memory, Aleta. We bet those children remembered this kindness all their lives, too. – Editors

Change Not Always Bad

Oh, how times change!

I used to work for CAPPER’S back in 1940 and ’41 doing proofreading on the mailing list. The address labels were on a large reel of aluminum plates that hooked together. I also worked in the inserting department, where it was my responsibility to send out advertisements to those on the mailing list.

At that time, Arthur Capper was living in Washington, D.C., but he would come back to Topeka, Kansas, about once a month to check on things. He also ran the children’s home on 10th Street, across from Christ Hospital, and every year he hosted a big picnic for all the kids.

When I was a child living on a farm south of Topeka, my mother usually traded something for a subscription. We always used the paper to find a current event for school.

I really like the new format of CAPPER’S. Keep up the good work.

Nadine Cavanaugh – Raymore, Missouri

Winning Recipe

I read with interest the article on Depression-era dining in CAPPER’S (“Lessons On Economizing Can Be Found Within Old Recipe Books,” April). I was especially delighted to see the photo and read the section about M.F.K. Fisher.

Shortly after moving to southern Arkansas, I found her recipe for Lumpies – a drop cookie that has the texture of a light brownie with a frosting that tastes like fudge. I tried them, and my husband raved about them so much that I entered them in our county fair. I was pleasantly surprised when I won First Place.

Here is the recipe:



2½ squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temperature

1 large egg

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped nuts


2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2-3 tablespoons hot, strong coffee

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets and set aside.

To make cookies:

In a double-boiler or a small saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat (or melt in microwave in a glass bowl).

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar with butter or margarine. Add egg, milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. Set mixture aside.

In a bowl, sift flour with baking soda, then gradually add to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate and nuts. (Mixture will be thick.)

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. (Cookies will spread a bit in baking.) Bake for 12 to
15 minutes.

To make frosting:

In a small bowl, combine butter or margarine with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa; blend well. Add hot coffee, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix to create a thick frosting. Frost cookies generously.

Thanks so much for keeping CAPPER’S the friendly family publication it is. My mother-in-law shared her CAPPER’S with me until she passed away in 1997, and I’ve been subscribing ever since. I will never let my subscription run out!

Marie Bush – Camden, Arkansas

We’re glad you liked the article on old recipe books, Marie, and we can’t wait to try the ribbon-winning recipe for Lumpies. – Editors

Reminded of Mother

The letter about Lee Barth (Open Session, June) reminded me of my mother. She turned 102 in March 2007 and had subscribed to CAPPER’S for many, many years.

She was going strong until August 2007, when she fell and broke a hip. She passed away two months later.

Mom lived by herself until she was 99, then she moved in with me. She enjoyed everything life had to offer, especially her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. One of the kids, after growing taller than my mom, named her Grandma Shorty, and Mom loved the nickname so much that everyone soon began using it.

Sylvia Riepen – Osage City, Kansas

An Old Friend

I have enjoyed CAPPER’S for many years. My folks got it, and my children cut many articles out of it for school assignments.

I have enjoyed many reader letters about records being set. For instance, the longest subscribers, the most siblings married for 50 years, the longest pen pals and more, and I wonder if I might have set a record of my own.

We purchased a 20-cubic-foot freezer from the Marquette Corp. in Minneapolis on February 3, 1966. It has been moved to different houses twice, and it survived a lightning strike that damaged most of our electric motors as well as the wiring in our house.

I recently had to empty its contents into a smaller freezer, and it was like losing an old friend. Has anyone used a freezer longer than that? I’d love to hear from you if you have.

Helen Franzen – West Union, Iowa

If you want to respond, send your letters toCAPPER’S, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, and we will forward them to Helen. – Editors

Reader Suggestion

You recently updated the format of CAPPER’S, so isn’t it time to move into the digital age? For instance, I’d like to see you encourage readers to send Heart of the Home stories and other entries via e-mail if they have access to the internet.

Also, if the Reader to Reader section were to include e-mail addresses of those requesting items, I would be happy to answer any that I could.

Nola Deffenbaugh – Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Thanks for your e-mail, Nola. We couldn’t agree with you more about encouraging folks to e-mail stories and photos to us. If you would like to e-mail your submissions rather than mailing them, e-mail them to editor@Cappers.com. As for including e-mail addresses in Reader to Reader, we’d like to know what the rest of you think. Send your responses to CAPPER’S, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, or e-mail us at editor@Cappers.com. – Editors

Beautiful Magazine

I want to thank you for the check you sent me for the use of my article “Teacher Was a Role Model” (Heart of the Home September/October). It was a thrill to see it in print as well as on your website. Thank you, too, for the wonderful Heart of the Home topics you suggest each issue.

The new magazine format is beautiful. I have subscribed to CAPPER’S for many years, and I believe it’s the best magazine around. I couldn’t do without you.

Anne Basile – Sylvania, Ohio

Many Thanks

I wish to thank CAPPER’S and the dear people who answered my request in Reader to Reader for the completion of two childhood prayers from the 1920s. The response was overwhelming. I received more than 200 letters!

What a wonderful world of people, and what a wonderful world of prayers. Thank you and God bless.

Irene Duddy – Tucson, Arizona

We’re happy to know that your request was answered, Irene. We would also like to take a moment to let everyone know that if you answer a request, it is very much appreciated, even if the recipient doesn’t send you a personal response. As Irene said, the response can be overwhelming. – Editors