It was during the Great Depression that my father lost all his possessions, his land, the general store, and worst of all, our mother. So, my distraught father moved the family to a large house in a rural area, between two towering hills that was two miles to the one-room schoolhouse, leaving small children to trudge their way on rough dirt roads and through creeks of stagnant water and mosquitoes. Perhaps he was unaware of the perils of our journey to and from school.
What a delight to finally arrive at school, and be greeted by a loving teacher, and to have the fellowship of the huddled masses, each from the pits of poverty. There were so few students that we were always ahead in our lessons. On rainy days we were shuffled to the dry side of the building. On wintery days we sat in a circle around the pot-bellied stove. We studied and recited from the greats such as Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelly and Lord Byron to name a few. This is my basis for the love of literature.
How could I have dared to dream that from that desolate, one-room schoolhouse that I would one day be present in the room once occupied by William Wordsworth at St. John's College at Cambridge, England? Or stand before the original workshop of Lord Byron and Shelly at the foot of the Spanish Stairway at Rome, Italy? The two names immortalized in cement. I shall always remember that I first knew these literary giants in a one-room schoolhouse in the wilderness.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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.