Tent Became Classroom

Author Photo
By Capper's Staff | Mar 12, 2013

One spring lightning struck our brick rural schoolhouse; tearing out one corner of the building and making it unsafe to continue classes in it.

So the school board decided to pitch a tent in the schoolyard to continue having school until a new native stone schoolhouse could be built.

We had our air conditioned classroom. We could roll up the sides of the tent each day for fresh air and to let the daylight in. And if the air was hot outside we had a hot classroom, if it was cold outside we would have a cold classroom.

Our tent was cloth-coated with something to make it weatherproof. All we had to do to make it leak during a rain was scratch a spot with our fingernails. Some of us not-so-perfect students scratched places over the teacher’s desk and chair, he got a free shower when it rained. (Editor’s Note: He was not referred to as a particularly devoted or pleasant teacher.)

I had a desk on the outside row of seats, and there was a ground squirrel hole close by my desk. Every day I watched the little squirrel do its thing. I watched it for long periods of time. It wasn’t afraid of us kids. I had a lesson every day in nature and science, but didn’t get a grade for it.

Now I tell my grandkids about when I went to school in a tent and they can’t imagine such a thing.

Tiny Hensley
Independence, Kansas

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.