After spending two weeks in northern Minnesota with my two cousins on their farm, the three of us boarded a train, riding the rails back to my home in Minneapolis. It was the summer of 1941, and I was 8 years old. For some reason, I decided to close the train window. When I did, it slammed down on the little finger of my left hand, and the two side latches both latched.
We must have created quite a commotion, because in no time, some of the train employees were standing there prying the window open. I can still see the pry bar splintering away the wood from the window sill as it released my little finger.
The first thing my parents saw when we got off the train at the Great Northern Depot, in Minneapolis, were my two cousins carrying all of our luggage. I was behind them carrying my left hand in my right hand, with my little finger bandaged and sticking straight up in front of me like a candle.
My next train ride occurred in 1945, when I was 12 years old. My buddy and I rode the street car downtown to the same massive granite depot, where we were to board the Great Northern and ride across the river.
The conductor asked us where we were going, and we told him we were only going as far as St. Paul. We explained our love of trains, and he offered to let us ride in the observation car. We gratefully accepted, and were taken to the last car of the train, which seemed to us more like a living room. The rich businessmen riding there were friendly to us, and that kindness impressed me deeply.
Both train rides were most certainly memorable, and the awesome granite depot in St. Paul still stands today.
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.