I returned home in 1946, after almost four years in the Army, a veteran of the second World War. The experiences I had left me bitter with the world. I had decided I would stop to visit Mom and Dad before going on to a big city to live. I wasn't in the mood for working. I was going to join the 52-20 club. The government was paying the veterans $20 a week for up to 52 weeks while adjusting to civilian life. I was aiming for the full amount.
My brother had come home after serving almost four years in England and purchased one of the grocery stores in a small north-west Kansas town. His meat cutter suddenly quit to go to Oregon. I agreed to help him out for a few weeks. After I was there about six weeks, my brother left for the day. When he came back he told me he had a job and was leaving the grocery store.
I asked, "Who's going to buy the store?"
He replied, "You are!"
I said, "With what? I don't have a hundred dollars to my name."
A few evenings later I was in the local tavern with a friend who always bought the beer for us. He asked me, "What are you going to do about buying the store?"
I said, "Nothing. I talked to the banker about a loan and he told me, 'I won't loan you any money on the store. It is too risky. If you were buying cattle, I would make you a loan.' It looks as if I will be out of a job."
He asked, "How much money would you need to buy it?" I told him the figure.
As the evening went on I was visiting with a man next to me. My friend was busy writing a check, which I thought was for more beer money. He tore the check out and nudged me in the ribs, and when I turned around he handed me the check. I said, "What is this?"
He said, "Look at it." I looked and was astonished to see that it was for the amount I needed to buy the store.
He would not draw up a promissory note: he said he knew I would pay him back. He was a friend indeed.
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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