I was teaching rural school in the Depression years, in a one-room schoolhouse, and must share with you about the stone soup we made at school one day in winter. One recess we had everyone looking for a large, smooth stone to put into a large pot to make the soup using an old kerosene burner deal I'd brought from home. Two families were to bring some potatoes, one family to bring two large onions, two families to bring carrots and one family volunteered a head of cabbage for next day's soup. Like the story we'd read from the book, a little meat would help the flavor, so I volunteered to bring some "to bring out the flavor of the stone."
During the first recess, a bunch of us got the vegetables ready and put all over the flame to cook until the noon mealtime. It was up to the first graders to wash and scour the stone carefully and place it in the pot. I brought bowls and spoons from home and all said stone soup was indeed a very special treat.
The idea came from the story of the traveler fellow, who went thru the country stopping at places along the way with a smooth white stone always in his pocket. He'd ask the lady of the house to put it in a kettle and make his special stone soup. Then he'd start making suggestions to add vegetables and some meat to bring out the flavor of the stone. All would sit down to a good meal and he'd be refreshed to go on his way again.
But only after he'd fished out the stone to put into his pocket again and thanked the cook for her sharing a meal so he could walk on to spend the night in some farmer's barn.
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.