Swatting Flies on the Prairie

Whether milking or eating, swatting flies was just a part of life.

| Good Old Days

Remember swatting flies on the prairie? My grandmother did and told these tales:

The children had to swat the flies off the cows at milking time with leafy branches. At the table, a youngster stood at each end with a branch to chase the flies away. It wasn't uncommon to hear Mother say, "Be more careful-you just knocked a fly in his coffee! Here, let me skim it out for you."

After dinner, it was, "You girls do up the dishes quick, before they call more flies." Then she would take a bottle of sorghum and make a thin line on the table; with a quick swoop of her hand she would catch a bunch of flies at their sticky roost, lift the lip of the cook-stove, and drop them in.

One of the "first niceties for prairie dining was a little screen that fit over each dish and was removed as a person served himself, then was replaced before the dish was passed on.

Robert Bishop
Nora Springs, Iowa

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. 

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