This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Laura Ingalls’ Friends Remember Her
By Dan L. White
Close friends recall
Laura Ingalls Wilder
reminiscences, recollections and ramblings
Published by Ashley Preston Publishing 5017 McDaris Drive Hartville, Missouri 65667 www.ashleyprestonpublishing.com
Dan L. White and his wife Margie and five children Settled in the Ozarks some years ago, On a forty acre farmstead, Just north of the Gasconade River, Right where Indian Creek and Brush Creek meet, About 12 miles up the road From Laura's Rocky Ridge Farm.
This book, Laura Ingalls' Friends Remember Her, is by and about Ozarkers, remembering two of their own.
Other books by Dan L. White include: Devotionals with Laura The Jubilee Principle: God’s Plan for Economic Freedom
copyright 1992, 2008 by Dan L. White, all rights reserved. ISBN 978-1440498541
Laura’s Lonely Little House . Interview with Anna Gutschke 9. Laura’s Thoughts on Home and Family 12. Interview with Carl Hartley. Interview with Nava Austin 3. What Made Laura’s Books So Happy? 5. Interview with Emogene Fuge 6. The Move to the Ozarks 2. Interview with Peggy and Erman Dennis 4. Interview with Neta Seal 7.3 Table of Contents 1. Did Rose Write Laura’s Books 10. Laura’s Thoughts on Country Life 8. 11. Sr.
That's year after year of not enough rain in the springtime. Because of the depression and the drought on the prairie. That means people don’t have much money and have no place to get any.4 Laura Ingalls’ Friends Remember Her Chapter 1 The Move to the Ozarks Let's go back a bit. The year is 1894. Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder and their seven year old daughter Rose are moving to a place they have never seen. and heard precious little about. and hardly any at all in the summer. When Laura had moved with Ma and Pa Ingalls from the . The prairie has a drought. The country is in what's called a depression.
in town. and moved back to the tree claim. after getting over diphtheria. Laura. out of South Dakota. Pa Ingalls was not prone to stay settled in one place. and then to the little prairie town of De Smet. who was still just as short as a half-pint. on July 17. dark woods of Wisconsin to the hot Kansas prairie. and then to the flowered banks of Plum Creek in Minnesota. Then they sold it. 1894. When she and Almanzo were first married. had moved just about as much as Pa Ingalls. Almanzo and Rose were moving again. Then they moved to their other homestead. through Laura's eyes: . then almost all the way across Missouri. And grown up Laura Ingalls Wilder. Later. Let's try to imagine that morning. and finally moved back to De Smet. all the way south across Iowa. Somehow it always seemed easier to pick up and move to a new spot than to stay put and fight it out where he was. South Dakota.5 big. her purplish blue eyes had always twinkled with anticipation. Then they moved to Florida for two years. they moved in with Almanzo's parents in Minnesota. they lived on Almanzo's tree claim homestead. to the Ozark Mountains. Moving to a new home was exciting. in a rented house. This time 650 miles away. Now.
Ma had always hated moving. and puffed on his pipe. And Laura's sisters Mary and Carrie and Grace just stood there. her hair pulled tight in a bun. She didn't stare with her wet eyes. powdery ground. Pa Ingalls stood with his hands on his hips. Sitting up on the wagon seat. Laura and Almanzo were really. Though the memory was blurred and tear stained. All eight shiny eyes stared hard. those of Ma and Pa and Carrie and Grace. with Laura beside him and little Rose peering out from behind. plodding feet stirred up little poofs of dust from the parched. although they hated to. and again. Laura had really seemed like the oldest sister in the family. Almanzo lifted the reins. Since Mary had gone blind. with the balls of smoke scurrying to disappear in the softly whooshing wind. ready to say good-bye. but she listened to the steps of the horses grow fainter. and the . even though Mary really was. skinny shadows thrown by the early sun crawled along their west side. and fainter. one after another. faster than normal. and then a second time. Long. and finally just fade away. and now precious little Laura was moving far away. and they headed south. Mary couldn't watch them leave with her blind blue eyes. The horses' heavy. Good-byes rang through the early morning frisky air. spoke to the horses. unknown place -- the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.6 _____________ Ma Ingalls stood with her arms folded primly in front of her. an apron around her waist and her eyes wet and glistening. they would never forget the sight of the waddling wagon. really going to this far away.
the friends. Seven years of drought had cost Laura and Almanzo their two 160 acre homestead farms. until sometime after nine o'clock. Almanzo's health had been ruined by an attack of diphtheria. The boxy peddler's wagon waddled slowly along. and Ma and Pa and Mary and Carrie and Grace. That was why they were leaving. the little prairie town. Long rides around the lake when Almanzo was courting Laura. Pleasant walks in the prairie grass with Mary. with all their memories. the church. a happy place. Their first house had burned. His left foot was forever deformed. where life could be enjoyed. and afterward his hands always fumbled when he harnessed the horses. disappeared between the burnt brown earth and the milky blue sky. They were looking for something better. Their little baby boy had died. They were leaving the Dakota prairie because life there had been too rough. Their life on the prairie had been unhappy. All this faded in the dust behind the wagon.7 Congregational Church and the schoolhouse grew smaller and smaller behind them. _____________ So Laura left these beloved people and the little town on the prairie. . The school. telling her listening ears of every wildflower and every knoll. farther and farther. They also left in the dust bad memories of life on the prairie. not endured.
we were looking for a place where the family health might make a good average. so they boldly advertised the area as The Land of the Big Red Apple. In fact. They wanted farmers to move there and grow crops to ship on their railroad. They were going to use it to buy a farm in the Land of the Big Red Apple. for one of us was not able to stand the severe cold of the north. Laura . Laura and Almanzo knew only one family in the Ozarks. The Kansas City. But some people thought of the Ozark Mountains as being one of the most backward parts of the country. because of those beautiful pictures put out by the railroad. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Land of the Big Red Apple In 1894.8 ______________ When we came to Missouri in 1894. All Laura and Almanzo had was a hundred dollars. when they were getting close to the Ozarks. Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad had just built a line through southern Missouri. while another could not live in the low altitude and humid heat of the southern states. The Sherwins had moved there from Dakota and sent back beautiful pictures of rows and rows of green apple trees buckling with big red apples.
when we children hunted the cows at night. they . and not so pleasant to meet. They complained that for their best Sunday dinner. But Mother never liked the house there. but later we had “boughten” shoes. Uncivilized. but none of us ever got bit. rough country then. we thought nothing of seeing droves of them. When they had hauled a certain number of loads. and all kinds of persons were passing. Snakes were thick. Ozarkers would only have corn bread and clabbered milk. Then the men of the settlement would drive their ox teams south into the pineries in the fall and haul in logs to the mills. and we lived there. The Ozarks was a wild. Laura wrote of the recollections of an old Ozark pioneer. though we went barefoot all summer and until freezing weather. Father was away so much. Father stopped the wagon in the thick woods by the big road. I was just a child myself when Father and Mother drove an ox team into the Ozarks. In 1921. cut down some trees. The woods were full of turkey and deer. and made a rough log cabin. and she didn’t like to stay alone with the young ones so near the road. so Father built another house down by the spring out of sight. too. even for that day. Father used to tan the hides of deer and cattle and make our shoes.9 and Almanzo met some disgusted travelers who were leaving the Ozarks and going on to Kansas.
These they had sawed into lumber and hauled the lumber to Springfield or Marshfield. Neighbors were few and far apart. We raised wheat and corn for our bread. made our meat. We carded the cotton and wool and then spun them into yarn and thread and wove them into cloth. and we raised cotton. you could always hear the wheel awhirring and the loom at work. Passing a house after dark.10 were paid with a load of logs for themselves. and sold it to get their tax money and shoes for the family. As soon as we could see in the morning. too. didn’t have time to be. even our dresses. we made our own blankets and coverlets and all the cloth we used. The men worked away a good deal and the mothers and children made the crops. seventy-five or one hundred miles. anytime before midnight. two of us would go into the woods and drive up the oxen for the day’s work. Then we girls worked all day in the fields while Mother worked both in the house and out. but we were never lonely. we handpicked it from the seeds. and while one tended the fire to keep it bright. we built a brush fire in the fireplace to make light. After we had gathered the cotton from the fields. Soon as supper was over. We worked long days. with venison and wild turkey. and I was sixteen years old before I ever . hogs ran loose in the woods and. We cooked in the fireplace. we kept some sheep for the wool. the others spun and wove and knit and sewed until 10 or 11 o’clock.
and if we had a calico dress we wore it for very best. and by the time they were older. The wheat was spread on poles with an old blanket under them to catch the grain as it dropped through. Now school comes before the work at home. I wish folks now had to live for a little while like we did when I was young. They have so much . and laid it carefully away. so they would know what work is and learn to appreciate what they have. When they got calico into the country. When the crops were raised. but that was molasses-making. There was three months school in the year beginning the first Monday in September. and we were careful with them. we brushed off all the dust. then blew the dust out in the wind. it takes all their time. But it was too late for us. We were taught to be saving. folded it. they can’t do anything else. corn-picking time. it cost 25 cents a yard. I never got much schooling. The shoes bought in the fall must last a year. Mother and we children did the threshing. and we older children had to stay home and do the work. and it was ready to take to mill. When we took it off. The little ones went.11 saw a cookstove. and when children go to school. and we flailed it out with hickory poles. turned it. potatodigging. we had things in better shape so they got lots more learning.
and many houses were made of logs. The country was a queer mixture of an old and a new country. Windows were often just holes cut in the logs. not sawed boards." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ . A great many of the fields had been cropped continually since the war and were so worn out that as one of the neighbors said. times have changed! I’m an old woman and have worked hard all my life. just split rails stacked up. Ah. Laura observed that none of the farms had wire fences. quoting a friend _______________ As their wagon waddled up on the Ozark plateau. all my wedding clothes were of my own spinning and weaving. Laura Ingalls Wilder. but even now I can work down some of the young ones. when I was married. a team of fairly good horses would trade for forty acres of land. "You can't hardly raise an umbrella over it. Why. well. yet every cent they get they must spend for something more. _____________ When we came to the Ozarks.12 they are spoiled. but my husband was so proud he wouldn’t let me wear my linsey dresses but bought me calico instead. They want cars and pianos and silk dresses. The fences were all rail fences and a great many of the houses were built of logs. without glass.
13 As she came into the Ozark Mountains. cold. the "gallery" was still occupied by the same men looking as though they had not stirred from their places since he left them there in the early morning. too. they always let their words slide on the end. When Ozarkers talked. They even spoke that way. cracking lips precisely pronouncing every t and d. The Ozark weather was easy and relaxed and the people seemed that way. This happened for three days. As he left the little hotel in the morning for his day's wandering among the hills." gazing out into the street. to help them fight the harsh climate. Years later. Laura must have thought about Ma and Pa Ingalls and all the Dakota people she had left behind. Laura recounted a story which she said she knew to be true. and then as the stranger was coming in from his day's jaunt in the evening. When the stranger returned late in the afternoon. he noticed several men sitting comfortably in the shade of the "gallery. or lazy. _____________ A stranger once went to a small inland town in the Ozarks to look over the country. Everything the Dakotans did was neat and orderly. he . Maybe even shiftless.
If they didn't like what they saw in the Ozark Mountains. we jest set and -think -. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Under her bangs. " how do you fellows pass the time here all day? What do you do to amuse yourselves?" A man emptied his mouth of its accumulation of tobacco juice and replied in a lazy drawl. "Say. "Oh.sometimes -. too. They passed too many log cabin houses and not enough school houses.jest -.and -. Our children are among those pitied because of their lack of a chance equal to the Negro in the cities for a proper start in life." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ As they rode into the Ozarks for the first time.set. _____________ My community is representative of those rural districts which come in for much solicitude because of their backward state. Together Laura and Almanzo made a bold decision. they. I used to be mortally sick because I believed this.we -. would turn around and head to Kansas. Laura and Almanzo had second thoughts about this new land that they were meeting.14 stopped and spoke to one of the men." he asked. . Laura's brow wrinkled with worry.
and sometimes. in the middle of the houses in the middle of the fields. going from pure green close up. Laura had to wonder why they were ever called mountains. a little country church. just little hills that rolled along with Laura and Almanzo as the wagon jostled down the road. rocky masses towering over everything. But the little mountains were lovely. _____________ It was rather unpleasant journeying in the heat of . they might not even have to worry about eating. they would have no food and no money to make it through the winter. Friendly hills climbed stair steps in the distance. no huge. But Almanzo joked that the country was so pretty.15 The Little Hills of the Ozarks The Ozark hills started to run at Cedar Gap. They weren't big hills at all. The ridges were covered with forests and fields. Once they bought a farm. Laura was sure that the soft blue sky above them looked lower than it had in Dakota. to hazy blue far off where the sky rubbed the trees. and in the middle of the fields nestled little log houses.
summer but as we climbed into the hills this side of Springfield, the air grew fresher and more invigorating the farther we went until, in Wright County, we found the place we were seeking. It was far enough south so that the winters were mild, high enough for the air to be pure and bracing, sheltered in the hills from the strong winds of the West, yet with little breezes always blowing among them, with plenty of wood for fuel and timber and rocks for building, with low lands for cultivation and upland bluegrass pastures for grazing, with game in the woods and fish in the rivers, and springs of pure, cold, mountain water everywhere.
Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________
After years of drought on the dry prairie, it must have seemed that the Ozark hills were exploding with green growth -- even in the heat of August. _____________ When the man of the place and I, with the small daughter, came to Missouri some years ago, we tried to save all the wild fruit in the woods. Coming from the plains of Dakota where the only wild fruit was the few chokecherries growing on the banks of the small lakes, we could not bear to see go to waste the perfectly delicious wild huckleberries, strawberries, and blackberries which grew so abundantly everywhere on the hills.
Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________
The rocky, hilly road swayed and curled, soared and dipped, and Laura and Almanzo and Rose jiggled and wiggled on the wagon. They rounded one more curve. Then, on the last day of August, 1894, just before noon, Laura and Almanzo and Rose looked down the main street of Mansfield, Missouri. They had reached the Land of the Big Red Apple. 650 miles away from home, Laura was home. In 1894, Mansfield was barely older than seven year old Rose, and not much bigger. A lawyer from Hartville figured that with the new railroad coming through, this would be a good spot for a town. He and some friends bought the land and platted Mansfield, which he graciously named after himself. Laura saw that Mansfield had happy little houses, with flowers growing in the yards and on the windowsills. The houses weren't lined up in a row, but were scattered about with lots of space between them, and horses and cows grazed on the grass between the houses. Laura and Almanzo rolled down Commercial Street, which was really just a dirt road, until they came to the town square. A little park sat in the center of the square, and the street ran all around the park, and stores faced the square on three sides. Laura saw a bank, two general stores, two drug stores and a dry goods store. Board sidewalks ran in front of the stores, and hitching posts
stood in front of the little park. The railroad ran on the south side of the square, perched up on a little ridge. On the other side of the tracks stood the depot, waiting for the early afternoon westbound passenger train. Farther south, Laura saw a large white Presbyterian Church standing higher than the rest of the town, carefully watching all the goings-on. To the north the road ran to Hartville, the county seat, and to the east, past Hoover's Livery Stable, the road slid downhill toward Mountain Grove.
Rocky Ridge Farm
Almanzo was looking for a farm. After losing his farms in Dakota, he was going to be a farmer again. He would not be a hired hand or a clerk for the rest of his life. He had spent six weeks getting to the Ozarks and he went farm hunting the day that he arrived. The Ozarks was a new country to Almanzo, though. The country wasn't flat and fertile like the prairie, but rolling and rocky and woodsy. It seemed to Almanzo that the land was hardly fit to farm. He finally found a farm that they could afford to buy, with a log cabin to live in and eight hundred little apple trees temporarily heeled in the ground, waiting for a cleared spot for planting.
coming from such a smooth country. she did not want any because it could be made into such a pretty place.19 But he didn't like it. and I was glad to leave them. Still. _____________ The place looked unpromising enough when we first saw it. had led her to a hillside by a road by the creek a mile east of Mansfield. however. however. This is what she saw in the autumn at the hillside she named Rocky Ridge Farm. _____________ . All the moves with Ma and Pa Ingalls. It needed the eye of faith. for they had also robbed me of nearly everything I owned by continual crop failures. But wife had taken a violent fancy to this particular piece of land. saw in this Ozarks farmstead the place she had been looking for all her life. all the moves with Almanzo. Almanzo Wilder _____________ Laura. not only one but several ridges rolling in every direction and covered with rocks and brush and timber. Perhaps it looked worse to me because I had just left the prairies of South Dakota where the land is easily farmed. I had been ordered south because those prairies had robbed me of my health. to see that in time it could be made very beautiful. the place looked so rough to me that I hesitated to buy it. saying if she could not have it.
on the low ground down by the spring the walnuts are dropping from the trees and squirrels are busy hiding away their winter supply. but he could hardly keep up with her. where the road crossed a little stream. The mares' heads rared back and their tails sailed high as they stayed just ahead of a plume of August dust that churned up from the dirt street. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ She didn't resist. then up the hill past the new four room school. And she wouldn't let Almanzo." until it is almost impossible to resist. quick steps of Laura's frisky pony. down the slope out of town. Manly was taking Laura to look at the apple farm. He clicked his tongue at his mare. Laura was tired of camping by the side of the road like tramps. Let's try to imagine seeing Rocky Ridge for the first time through Laura's eyes. Here and there the leaves are beginning to change color and a little vagrant breeze goes wandering over the hills and down the valleys whispering to "follow. Then the brawny brown steeds sped on past Hoover's Livery Stable. She loped down the next hill. urging her to keep pace with the short.20 There is a purple haze over the hilltops and a hint of sadness in the sunshine because of summer's departure. . _____________ Some of the town's people who were out early jerked their heads up as Laura and Manly cantered into town. follow. ignoring the sign which said to walk your horses.
He slowed his mare to a walk in front of a rocky ridge. and rode up the hill where the branch ran. A branch of water trickled down the hill. and the water lazed slowly over spans of level rock. following two wheel paths with grass growing in the middle between them. just to make sure. glistening plants soaked the air. the road wiggled. and just before it gurgled into the creek. then suddenly skipped down a step to the next level. Manly turned away from the creek road. He stopped. letting out a bubbly little giggle each time it fell. Little echoes of splashing water bounced around the tree tunnel. They bent their long necks down and swished their muzzles back and forth in the water to clear away any leaves. Around her a field of grass lay curled in a basket of rolling knolls. dancing ripples. The creek eased across a stairway of wide rock ledges. Then she slowed down and waited for Manly to show the way. sashaying down the center of a valley that drifted northeast. The tops of the trees leaned out to get at the open light above the road until their waving tips touched in the sky. Then they pursed out their lips and sucked up long. There weren't any. but they swish-swished anyway. When the creek wiggled. Manly paused to let the horses drink.21 Laura's pony crossed the creek first. Laura stretched herself up high on her pony and squinted her eyes and twisted her head. His leather saddle let out a leathery squeak as he twisted around to face Laura. It was as if the flat prairie just to the west . where gentle hills gaily bounced to and fro. slow sips of the cool. The road followed the creek. Laura glanced up. circling in front of the round hill. and the mushy smells of moist.
with tingling autumn blazes of red quilted into the green forest. Laura was breathless. Wherever Laura looked. berries. One steep. The tousled wood shingles had shed many rains. Any spot that wasn't full of trees was claimed by native grasses or wildflowers or berries lucky enough to find room to grow. where hundreds of little apple trees leaned over in a ditch. The weathered walls had been washed with rain and dried with sunshine countless times. All the little farm needed was a log cabin. Giant oaks and slim walnuts and bushy cedars edged the clearing. In the middle of these the clearing stretched out on a grassy bench.22 had been curved and bent here just so. She leaned out and peered down into a narrow ravine that plunged between the clearing and the steep hill just beyond. nestled on the grassy bench beneath the big hill. proud knob in front of her was hugged by three friendlier hills. wild and lovely. vegetables. nuts. and the old oak logs were buffed to a fine gray color. before splashing gaily into the creek. and bravely protected the little house from storms. Laura walked over to the edge of the field. Laura turned. their spindly little arms trying to wave hello. the land surged with growth. and hickories and sassafras and wild cherry trees filled the woods. This was the farm they had been looking for. Laura jumped down onto a thick layer of grass and stood facing south. everything they needed to live. and there it sat. A spring gurgled out of the hillside into the gully and gushed down the hollow in a wide circle. grass for the stock. The billowing hills had laid on them a soft coverlet of trees. This farm could grow fruits. A . her head was whirling.
The morning train leaving Mansfield blew its steam whistle. But the chimney looked lonesome with no smoke curling from its stack. these lazy little hills -.23 strong rock chimney covered one end of the cabin and rose stoutly above it in the sky. through a . This one hill.this was Laura Ingalls’ place in the world. And as much as anything else. Laura's Rocky Ridge Farm made her exclaim in her writings "What a beautiful world this is!" All of her writing was full of happiness. She would never again leave this place. this one little town. Her wandering wagon had found the one spot in the world that she would love more than any other. The rough times on the prairie were over. Laura was home. _____________ And so she was. because she was happy on her little hill in the Ozarks. this town. we have this farm. The happiness that she found in the Ozarks eventually bubbled out of her. these hills to thank for the Little House books. with the toot-toot sound echoing in the valleys and glens of the little apple farm. this one county with its few farm families.
The world was pleasant: I lingered long. A little chipmunk came out to play And the autumn breeze sang a wonder song. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ . golden autumn day. _____________ I strolled today down a woodland path-A crow cawed loudly and flew away. The leaves were yellow and red and brown And patter.24 pencil and a five cent paper tablet. The brown quails rose with a sudden whirr And a little bundle. of eyes and fur. On this beautiful. Took shape of a rabbit and leaped away. patter the nuts fell down. The sky was blue and the clouds were gold And drifted before me fold on fold. into the Little House books. A squirrel was storing his winter hoard.
the grass goes back to its spring green. with their hands glued fast on their steering wheels and their eyes round with bewilderment. The year starts with three months of spring. If they don't know you now. And the three months of winter bring a few delightful snows and just enough shivery cold to make the hill people cherish the coming spring again. when some local stranger tosses them a big howdy wave. when just enough heat sinks in to make autumn refreshing. The three months of summer are pleasant except when July bumps into August. when all the many plants spring sharply to life. In the three months of fall.25 The Ozarks People The weather in the little hills is easy. Maybe the easy climate is why the folks in these little hills are so relaxed and friendly. and that season here is named just so. while the trees go wild with color before they rest for the winter. they figure they will soon. . almost everybody waves at you. Visitors to Rocky Ridge Farm and other outsiders are always caught by surprise. Even today. when you ramble through the county roads of Wright County. so they go ahead and wave.
_____________ I have often thought that we are a little old-fashioned here in the Ozark hills. the women and children gathered at the second table. because we had a "working" in our neighborhood this winter. and at noon a long table was filled with a country neighborhood dinner. and it sawed briskly all the afternoon. badly crippled with rheumatism. now I know we are.26 Laura and Almanzo got to know those friendly waving Wright County neighbors in 1894. With cross-cut saws and axes. they took possession of his wood lot. All morning they kept arriving with well-filled baskets. too. At noon a wood saw was brought in. By night there was enough wood ready for the stove to last the rest of the winter. With what little wood he could manage to chop. While the winter was warm. So the men of the neighborhood gathered together one morning and dropped in on him. and chatted pleasant neighborhood gossip while they leisurely enjoyed the . the family scarcely kept comfortable. After the hungry men had eaten and gone back to work. The women did their part. fully as well supplied as the first. That is a blessed. old-fashioned way of helping out a neighbor. was not able to get up his winter's wood. still it has been much too cold to be without firewood. and this neighbor.
_____________ My community is representative of those rural districts which come in for much solicitude because of their backward state. knit. Our children are among those pitied because of their lack of a chance equal to the Negro in the cities for a proper start in life. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Laura finally even changed her opinion of the “backward” Ozark schools.. If misfortune.. they sewed. I used to be mortally sick because I believed this. Then when the dishes were washed. or sorrow comes to one. Besides: In our . Today I doubt it. It was a regular old-fashioned good time. the neighbors rally to help with a wholehearted good fellowship that makes living worthwhile and dying easier. sickness. and we all went home with the feeling expressed by a newcomer when he said. A chance is not everything.27 good things. . crocheted and talked for the rest of the afternoon.Nowhere are there better neighbors or truer friends. "Don't you know I'm proud to live in a neighborhood like this where they turn out and help one another when it's needed.
the children meet one day out of seven to receive religious training. we have prayer meetings where young mothers pray and where boys and girls get up and say: "Lord. we learn to work harmoniously together. thousands are growing up without the most important part of an education -. where stoves are still unjacketed. strive that at least home and neighborhood influences shall be of the best. We country mothers. realizing the dearth of so-called advantages. where children are supposed to have everything. Because it takes us all to make a go of any cooperative work or pastime. that I may be a little kinder.proper home training. In the city. She found happiness in the Ozarks farm she lived at for over sixty years. We have our community sings. This is good for the children to see.28 schoolhouse. We read good books. Also." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ After all the unhappiness and all the searching moves. Laura stopped moving. a little braver to meet temptation. _____________ . a little more thoughtful of my neighbor.
the dead baby were subdued under seasons of planting and cultivating and harvesting and winter skating parties.29 Just how much does home mean to you? Of what do you think when it is mentioned? Is it only the four walls and the roof within the shelter of which you eat and sleep or does it include the locality also -. If we learn to look on the bright side while we are young. The lost farms. the sickness. those little wrinkles at the corners of the eyes will be "laughing . the hills and valleys. There is no reason why we should not be merry as we grow older. but even those things need not affect our happiness. the forest trees in the wood lot. the burned house. _____________ No one can really welcome the first gray hair or look upon the first wrinkles as beautiful.the shade trees around the house. and the level fields of the farm lands over which the sun rises to greet you in the early morning and sets in glorious waves of color as you go about your evening tasks? Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ As her years in the Ozarks went by. the little brook that wanders through the pasture where the grass grows lush and green in spring and summer. the heartaches from her early married years on the prairie softened. What could have been crows feet around her eyes turned into laugh lines.
and he couldn't bear to think of spending a quiet evening at home. "Always they are looking for something to pass the time away quickly as though they were afraid to be left by themselves. ‘There isn't a thing on for tonight.30 wrinkles" instead of "crow's feet." What an uncomfortable condition to be in -. They never are quiet a minute if they can help it." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Finally the young woman who had argued with her husband-to-be about the troubles of farming became convinced that to have a small farm in the country is the best life God can give.depending altogether on things outside of one's self for happiness and a false happiness at that. 'Not a thing!' He seemed to think it was something terrible that there was nothing special on hand for excitement." he said.' he said. . _____________ Talking with another friend from the city gave me still more of an understanding of this difference between country and city. "My friends in town always are going somewhere. The other evening one of the fellows was all broken up because there was nothing doing. for the true must come from within.
If we are such bad company that we can't live with ourselves, something is seriously wrong and should be attended to, for sooner or later we shall have to face ourselves alone. There seems to be a madness in the cities, a frenzy in the struggling crowds. A friend writes me of New York, "I like it and I hate it. There's something you've got to love, it's so big -- a people hurrying everywhere, all trying to live and be someone or something -- and then when you see the poverty and hatefulness, the uselessness of it all, you wonder why people live here at all. It does not seem possible that there are any peaceful farms on the earth."
And so more than ever I am thankful for the peacefulness and comparative isolation of country life. This is a happiness which we ought to realize and enjoy. We who live in the quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts, and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those who are keeping up with the crowd, where there is always something "on for tonight," and who have become so accustomed to crowds that they are dependent on them for comfort.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Happy Little House Books
Laura and Almanzo found a full measure of happiness on their little Ozarks farm. True, Laura had learned from her parents such things as "not to cry over spilled milk"; and "all's well that ends well"; and "a miss is as good as a mile". She had been taught to look on the bright side. But her Ozark years were bright -- and literary history was made. After nearly forty good years in the Ozarks, happy Laura could write about the old rough times on the prairie frontier and make even the sad times happy! The sadness of always moving with Ma and Pa Ingalls, cramped log cabins and shanties with windy cracks, a damp dirty dugout by the creek, Mary’s awful illness, a terrible winter that almost killed them all -These were not pleasant times, folks! This is rough stuff, rougher than almost any of us have lived through. Yet all this unhappiness was recorded by a merry heart that had spent about forty years singing in the Rocky Ridge woods and pastures -- and it didn’t come out unhappy at all! The sad stories sang with a jollity that carried every tale straight into your heart. That was an amazing feat!
Do you see? The happy Little House books came from the happy Ozarker, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her good Rocky Ridge years made the lovable Little House books possible. All the crows’ feet of her life turned into laugh lines. _____________ When we are downhearted and discouraged, we speak of looking at the world through blue glasses; nothing looks the same to us; our family and friends do not appear the same; our home and work show in the darkest colors. But when we are happy, we see things in a brighter light and everything is transformed.
Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________
This is what happened with Laura's former years on the prairie. She was happy, so she looked back and saw things in a brighter light. Everything was transformed.
Generally the people who write about Laura and the Little House books are not Ozarkers. They have chosen to be someplace else, where life is fast and crowded and bustling. They usually don't want the simple Ozark life of a homestead and chickens and horses and cows and goats.
when these writers pontificate about Laura. a university professor who lives in the peculiar community of academia -. because they were going to change them. For example. That wasn't Laura at all! She didn’t pine! So that must be himself that he was describing. a famous writer herself in her day.34 Therefore. So. They even changed the Bible. He is quite unable to see the Little House stories the same way the little chicken lady from Rocky Ridge saw them. Laura and Almanzo’s only child was Rose Wilder Lane. One of Laura's friends recalls the time when Laura would not let Hollywood make a movie of the Little House stories.views Laura through the eyes of modern big university values. . When you read writings about Laura. naturally. Quite the opposite. they write from a quite different view than she had. sadly passing from problem to problem. you are reading just as much about the writer as you are about Laura. either. Laura or Mansfield were nothing like that. although I’m not sure if God approved of that. Isn’t that amazing? We know that moviemakers change every book that they make into a movie. one biographer has her pining away her life. Of course. One of Rose's biographers. his biography is not flattering to Laura.the perfect opposite of a small chicken farmer -.
This was later adjusted. so we know that Laura would not have allowed it. agent.choose to lead lives totally different from the life Laura and Almanzo thoughtfully picked for themselves.as Rose did -. Rose's lawyer. but they -. He even fought a court battle to overturn Laura’s will. Therefore. when we read the sequel Little House books by MacBride. professors. who would think as she thought? Probably none of them.35 How many of those writers who write about Laura would do what she did? To refuse to make a big money making movie because it wasn't quite right? Of these writers. Historians. lawyers -. so that he won the rights to Laura’s books after Rose’s death. This show was extremely popular and a wholesome show.There are no Ozark farmsteaders among those who write about Laura and . Those who write about Laura Ingalls Wilder are generally quite different from the way she was. instead of the Wright County Library. as Laura had instructed. They appreciate her. once he successfully litigated the rights to the books. heir. we are reading a "Little House" author who was not like Laura or Almanzo at all. But it was nothing at all like the original Ingalls stories. and close confidant Roger MacBride was instrumental in getting the TV show Little House on the Prairie developed.
including my own ramblings about things brought up in the interviews. black walnuts.36 Almanzo. too.because we chose to live the same life in the same place. They don't take the keys out of their cars. Like Laura. in a way -. the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty. and the doors to their homes usually aren't locked. These are all Ozarkers. This book. ticks and chiggers. And if they don't . blackberries." So let's chat with some people who were Laura's good friends. we believe that ".it is the sweet. We spend our lives with cows.I believe we would be happier to have a personal revolution in our individual lives and go back to simpler living and more direct thinking. It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile. and enjoy Laura’s discussions. work and rest.. horses. is a bit unique. and have some discussions of our own along the way. too. We live on an Ozark farmstead a few miles up the road from Rocky Ridge. Woodsmopolitan. then. simple things of life which are the real ones after all. who have lived in these little hills for decades. So we can say that we knew Laura. These are all discussions by Ozarkers about Ozarkers. chickens. and living close to nature.. goats. We heap up around us things that we do not need as the crow makes piles of glittering pebbles...
37 wave when you go through town -Well. good homes. good times. What more could anyone want?" Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ What more could anyone want? . they must not have seen you. and good neighbors. a good living. _____________ Here on the very peak of the Ozark watershed are to be found good health.
She would have tea with an elderly lady in town whose name I can't recall.38 Chapter 2 Nava Austin _____________ We visited Nava Austin at the Hartville Library. now -. Laura Ingalls Wilder loved to read and visited the library until the end of her life. how did you get to know Laura? Nava: I started working at the Mansfield Library in 1951 or 1952. green Plymouth taxi and Laura would get him to take her down . _____________ Editor: Nava. and Laura would come to the library every Wednesday. and worked for the library for about forty years. She would visit the library and go up to Owen's Cafe for lunch. Hartley owned a new. and she and Nava became friends from these weekly visits. what did Laura do when she came to town? Nava: She had a driver bring her in every week. Nava was the head of the Wright County Library system.Almanzo died in 1949 at the age of 92 and Laura died in 1957 at the age of 90. Editor: Let's see. Mr. So Laura would have been in her mid-eighties when you first got to know her. At that age.
the weather. Nava: When Laura came into the library. her chickens. Laura said that she wanted to be recognized as a person . Editor: What would you talk about with such a famous person? Nava: We would talk about normal things. Laura said to me one time that she didn't want people to know she read that kind of books.39 around Ava because she thought the scenery was so pretty down there. and she had received different awards for being such a great author. She read paperback western novels. Nava: She would read different magazines. At about three-thirty. and she like to read paperback westerns. although she did mention her blind sister Mary often. things she liked to do. Editor: Laura was always an avid reader. we would usually talk for a while. Editor: That's kind of funny. Laura had been nationally famous since her first book Little House in the Big Woods was published in the early thirties. Yet when she got books out of the library to read. she would return home and take a nap and rest. She didn't like to talk about herself. Her conversations weren't on her books so much and she never talked much about her family. the paperback westerns. it wasn't War and Peace or Hemingway or anything like that.
the renowned author. There is no standing still. I'm sure there were people who came around just to see Laura Ingalls Wilder. not just a celebrity. She didn't receive people who were just curiosity seekers. decay sets in.40 and a friend. The moment that growth stops. _____________ Our graces are either growing or shrinking. Editor: Laura had been famous for twenty years by then. So what was Laura like as a person? Nava: Laura was a very quiet person. Nava: When she was home. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: That's interesting. and she was very refined and dignified. she was a sweet little old lady. she didn't answer the door unless she was expecting someone or unless they were her friends. One of the greatest safeguards against becoming old is that of continuing to grow mentally. It seems to be a law of nature that everything and every person must move along. In a nutshell. . because she didn't think they saw her as a real person.
Both Laura and Almanzo liked horses and they had some good stock. Now at that time. She wanted to celebrate by taking me down the street to Owen's Cafe and buying me lunch. But one time -.41 When Laura and Almanzo had been on the farm together. and Almanzo had his milk goats to take care of. Laura was really sad about having to part with that colt. Editor: That certainly must have been before she had her first best selling book. I normally ate my lunch in the library while I kept it open. doing the chores and helping him around the place.I think it was in the early thirties -. So I told Laura I didn't know if I could take off long enough to go down to the cafe. Laura was partial to her chickens. so Almanzo took them over to a friend and she would wash them up for him. He trained the goats to step up on a stool with their front feet. But Laura didn't want those dirty cloths taken into the house. Laura told me that she would go down . Editor: Did Laura talk about their life on the farm much? Nava: She did mention that one time they had a young colt they liked very much. I didn't get the lunch hour off. He would wipe off the goat's udder with a white handkerchief. she had been sort of a tomboy.they had to sell that colt just to pay the taxes on their property. so he could milk them easier. Nava: One time Laura came into the library and told me that she had just received a royalty check that she wasn't expecting. She didn't even want to wash them.
Editor: Why didn't she write more books? She had quite a number of years left to write about. if she had wanted to. Her daughter Rose didn't write in the same style at all. Nava: Rose and Laura didn't always see eye to eye. Laura tried to keep the unpleasant things out of her stories. Her books portrayed life as a bitter struggle. She didn't want to write about the sad things that happened. Nava: She just didn't want to write about the sad things. so I wouldn't have to be gone for long. At the library. I suggested that we make a tape recording of the questions and answers and Laura agreed. and that one is sold at the museum. And that's what we did. I was always having people ask me questions about Laura. I still have this tape. Another tape recording was made on the day the library was dedicated in Laura's honor. She wrote her stories by not emphasizing the worst aspects of life and concentrating on the happiest. Editor: Many people like Laura's books because they are positive and kind.42 to the cafe and order our lunch. so I wrote down some of the questions and gave the list to Laura. . The first years of their marriage were rough. Then I would come up a little later when it was ready. and she thought that was too sad to write about.
and he said that Laura couldn't will away what wasn't hers. Rose called me about the Bible and I handed it over to the home. Wilder was extremely interested in the Wright County Library. doilies and Almanzo's canes. Nava: Laura donated several of Mary's Braille tablets to the library. In that Bible there were newspaper clippings of Laura's wedding and the family history was recorded in the Bible.43 Editor: Mrs. He settled with the library for $20. I didn't know Laura had a son until I saw his date of birth and date of death written in the family Bible. dolls. and Laura gave that family Bible to me. Only the dolls remained in the Mansfield library. We sent everything back to the home when the museum was opened. and he gets the royalties. she left everything to her lawyer agent. When Laura died. But when Rose died. and a number of her books. . all the royalties from Laura's books were to go to the Wright County Library. After Laura's death. she left everything to Rose.000. Pa and Ma Ingalls had given Laura the family Bible when Laura got married. and Laura's will stated that when Rose died.
he was nearly seventy. and was still very active in community affairs. where he was twice elected mayor. and then 1989 and 1990. and you still run an . Although he has spent some time working in other states. not in the best health. _____________ Erman Dennis Editor: When did you serve as mayor of Mansfield? Erman: I've been mayor two different times. and is unable to give us any memories she has of Laura and Almanzo. and her mother Ruth Brown knew the Wilders well. His wife Peggy also has some clear recollections of Laura and Almanzo. when Laura was just becoming known for her children's books. At the time of this interview.44 Chapter 3 Erman and Peggy Dennis _____________ Erman Dennis was raised in Mansfield in the thirties. I was mayor in 1979 and 1980. Editor: You're sixty-nine now. much of his adult life has been spent in this small Ozarks town. Mrs. Brown is nearly ninety. while operating his own business.
William S. I know in some of the writings I have read. Erman: Yes. and a nephew of his. I don't know. He built that house out there for them. a Baptist minister. Erman: Yeah. He was a carpenter and he built just about everything in this town that's years and years old. and screened it in. they said that . Editor: I understand that your dad did some work for Almanzo and Laura Wilder. He lived here all his life. He built that house for Mr. Wilder. that's on the house now. when I was just a kid. Orel Dennis. Editor: Your dad was an eight year old boy in Mansfield when Laura and Almanzo first came to town. and he built that house for them in 1911 and 1912. Editor: Exactly what part of the house did Almanzo build himself? Erman: I really couldn't tell you. Editor: How did your folks wind up in the Ozarks? Erman: My granddad. he did. he built that kitchen on the back. helped him build it. Dennis. came here in the early 1800's from Tennessee. I can't lug them around like I used to. Later on in years. He was born in 1886 and died in 1961.45 appliance repair business? Erman: Yes.
and on the back. . My sister has a picture of my dad and Orel standing on the front porch of that house when they were building it. Editor: I guess they were proud to have worked on such a big house. too. The house was pretty well framed in then.46 Almanzo built the house. All of that happened before I was born. My dad had a camera that took postcard size pictures. He hired my father to build the house. my mother was telling her that my father was building the Wilder home. Later. but I don't know just where it's located. The Wilders came here in 1894. Erman: I don't think anybody would really know exactly who built what. But he didn't build the house. The Wilders had a boarding house when they first came here. The postmark date is on the back of the picture. My mother sent my aunt a picture postcard of the Wilder house. I was born in 1923. That's nearly twenty years that they lived in Mansfield before they built this house in 1911 and 1912. Editor: But your dad was hired as a contractor to construct the big house that's been visited by so many people. where Laura wrote her books? Erman: Yes. I have another picture that my mother sent to my aunt. It seems like it's hard to say exactly what Almanzo built and what he hired your dad to build. Almanzo might have helped on it and helped get some of the lumber together and things like that.
. but that had to be sometime in the thirties. Ever changing with the seasons. with wild birds and gay squirrels passing on and off the scene. When we planned our new house. _____________ We do enjoy sitting around the fireplace in the evening and on stormy days in the winter. I don't know how old I was. but a good oldfashioned fireplace that will burn a stick of wood as large as a man can carry. I remember two boys that boarded with them in their house. Their name was Turner.47 when I was a boy. I have never seen a landscape painting to compare with them. . and the rest of the house if we could afford it -.. This was the same time that they hired my dad to build the kitchen and screened in back porch on the northwest corner of the house. we determined that we would build the fireplace first. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: Did you yourself have much personal contact with the Wilders in your time? Erman: I remember when my wife worked in a grocery .not a grate.I have in my living room three large windows uncovered by curtains which I call my pictures.
48 store about the time we were married or a little before. Mrs. It was on the northeast corner of the square. and he serviced Almanzo's car for years. used to do some laundry for them. When people saw the Wilders around town. they were about like anyone else. Wilder in the grocery store. Did you ever have any contact with them at all? Erman: We would see them just like we would see other people around here. He would get a sack full of them and bring them to Ruth to do his laundry. We were married in 1941. but my wife and I were still young. As far as being close friends. We would see them every time they would come to town. Almanzo had his milking cloths. Laura had already written several best selling children's books and had become somewhat famous. He would use them when he was milking his goats. in the same building that's there now. . My mother-in-law. up here in town. Wilder used to come to town and buy her groceries in there. Mr. Editor: When your wife would see Mrs. Seal had a service station right up here at the corner. Editor: What grocery store was that? Erman: It was Pennington's Market. Ruth Brown. my mother-in-law was probably a close friend to them.
but most people still speak like they were raised. That's when she really got famous. They put a lot of work into that.49 Editor: Even though she was a famous author? Erman: Yeah. and many people in town considered the Wilders to be a notch or two above them. Probably she hadn't come to the front then as being such a famous author as she did after she died. Editor: Did Laura and Almanzo still speak like South Dakotans or did they speak Ozark? Erman: I don't think so. My wife has been involved in the Wilder Days celebration. That's just the way it is in a small town. And she was more famous away from here than she was here in the Mansfield area. after she died. but . but I didn't read them until a few years ago. The Wilders were reserved. I think they still spoke with a northern brogue. I have. Editor: Have you read Laura's books? Erman: Yes. Of course. for the past eighteen years. I bet you could take a poll of the fourteen hundred people that live in Mansfield right now. Laura wrote her books for children. and I would say that there's not three hundred people in Mansfield that's been to that Wilder home or gone through the museum. which we hold every year here in Mansfield. I guess. they lived in the Ozarks longer than they lived anyplace else.
. she was always dressed up. Peggy Dennis Editor: Mrs. a lot of women wore hats. Then later it became the MFA Store and Mr. She dressed simply but she was attractive. jet black bead necklaces and little. and she would wear long. long black earrings that dangled. She always came in every Wednesday to do her shopping. I worked in the H. you handed your list to the clerk and they got your order while you waited. For a while there. Laura wore black a lot. Peggy: Yes. Mrs. Editor: What can you recall about seeing Laura in those days? Peggy: When Laura came into the grocery store where I worked. She always wore a hat. even though it wasn't in style then. Pennington Grocery Store. Pennington managed it for them. So when Laura came into the store every Wednesday. we got her a little box to sit on while we got her groceries. In the grocery store back then. you used to see Laura and Almanzo in the forties when they came into the grocery store where you worked.50 they're interesting enough for adults to read. Dennis. you know. C.
If you just looked at him. little old lady -. and they were reserved people.raised by Ma Ingalls to be prim. They said they thought he had suffered a stroke at one time. one time he came into the market and my . But he was a cut up. Peggy: I didn't think much about seeing her. One of the most famous writers in the country sitting on a wooden box waiting for her groceries. Missouri. It didn't seem like they were famous people. He was always clowning with my mother. Editor: Can you give us an example? Peggy: Well. sitting on a wooden box while she waits for her groceries. We just didn't think much about seeing them. They were old by then. We sort of took them for granted.51 Editor: I can visualize this lovely.wearing formal black with a small black hat cocked on her smooth white hair. Editor: What about Almanzo? Peggy: Now Almanzo was a cut up and he was witty. He had the front of his shoe leather sewn way back and I think he did it himself. Almanzo had a big white mustache and it looked like he had a stern look. like he was frowning. you might think that he was kind of mean. He always carried a heavy cane. proper and dignified -. every Wednesday in Mansfield. It was almost like he was club footed.
but it was other people who were so interested. People took pictures of her in that outfit all day long. She turned around and said. It was like she didn't want you to do something for them unless she could do something in return for you. Laura gave Neta Seal an outfit once. Neta kept it and one year she wore it in the Wilder Days parade. So he took his big heavy cane and rapped hard on the counter. Editor: Your mother washed Almanzo's goat milking cloths? Peggy: Almanzo had white cloth five pound sugar sacks that he used when he would milk the goats to clean their udders. in turn. Laura didn't want to wash those things. "Oh.52 mother pretended she didn't see him. Laura brought Neta some glazed fruits. who had gotten used to her. I didn't see you." He knew she was teasing him and he thought that was real funny. One time Almanzo was feeling poorly. Then. She did and took it to him. Neta was so surprised that people were that interested in Laura. . Neta Seal asked him if there was anything she could do for him. It wasn't people around here. Almanzo said he would like to have a double crust pineapple pie. so Almanzo would save up a sack full of them and bring them to my mother to wash. so Neta said she would fix him one.
But Laura said that since they couldn't do anything for those people in return. They were in Kansas and Almanzo went to a farm to trade a fire mat for some corn for supper. we show our appreciation of it by doing him a favor in return.53 _____________ When a neighbor does us a favor. remembering always the words of Christ. Once she was staying there with her folks and she took in two Turner boys like foster children. But the people at the farmhouse were willing to just give them supper. ye have done it unto me. Did you see Rose much around town." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: That reminds me of an incident that Laura mentioned in her diary of their trip down here. Mrs. Editor: Your mother seemed to know the Wilders pretty . Dennis? Peggy: Rose didn't come back an awful lot of time. They lived out there with the Wilders and went to school with us. they couldn't accept their offer. Then when the Lord showers favors upon us. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren. They asked Laura and Almanzo to stay and eat and to put their horses in the barn and feed them. too. how much more should we try to show our gratitude in such ways acceptable to Him.
and she asked if she could eat with the cooks. Peggy: Yes. little old couple. with the cooks. . So she ate her favorite dinner. My mother fixed a dinner at the school for Laura's last birthday.54 well. They were going to have her eat with all the children but she said that being around all the kids made her nervous. They were just a nice. chicken and dumplings with all the trimmings.
and yours. and few books that give the warmth of the Little House books. The Little House books sing with joy. but we will never forget reading those Little House books together. . We all clearly remember those warm. We hardly recall the cold or the hanging ice. They tell a story.55 Chapter 4 What Made Laura's Books So Happy? A few years ago an ice storm knocked down the electric lines in Wright County for nearly a week. they try to be happy. We cooked supper on our big black wood stove and then curled up in front of it for our evening's entertainment with Laura. and some do all right -but they don't make you bubble up inside. Let's take a moment here to discuss why the Little House stories made our family. wonderful nights when the juice was off. our family read the Little House books by candle light and battery light. with full bellies and warm feet. There is no heat that soaks in like being close to a hot fire. They made us happy. Each night during that week. Little House books written by others don't sing. even through the saddest of times. so happy.
the pioneers had to face so many difficulties. they would say something like "all's well that ends well. When the Ingalls left the big woods of Wisconsin. they deserted a year's hard work. they couldn't dwell on any one problem or they would never have gotten anything done at all. but the happiness came from Laura's spirit. they lived in a shanty and nearly starved to death one winter. In South Dakota. Actually.56 Amazingly. _____________ . In Minnesota. they left all their family behind. their wheat crop was plagued by grasshoppers and Mary was struck blind with illness. Much of this came from her parents' example. the life recounted in the Little House stories would normally be considered unhappy. When they left Kansas. no matter what was happening outside. Time and again after some bad experience. Not through literary sleight of hand or editorial erudition. Those are happy times? But Laura had the ability to be happy inside." And you can remember their other maxims of the same type. The happiness in Laura's Little House books came from her." Or "a miss is as good as a mile. So Laura picked up the custom from Charles and Caroline of making the best out of whatever was happening.
. old style housekeeping or modern conveniences do not affect your feelings. . Let us be as careful that our homes are furnished with pleasant and happy thoughts as we are that the rugs are the right color and texture and the furniture comfortable and beautiful! Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ . If the members of a home are ill-tempered and quarrelsome. You may not know just what is wrong. good-tempered people. Sometimes you feel that you must be very prim and dignified. generous. It is the characters and personalities of the persons who live there. you will have a feeling of warmth and welcome that will make you wish to stay. and sometimes it is cold and forbidding. and at another place you feel a rollicking good humor and a readiness to laugh and be merry. Sometimes it is a friendly. but you wish to make your visit short. If they are kindly.Let's be cheerful! We have no more right to steal the brightness out of the day for our own family than we have to steal the purse of a stranger.57 We all know there is a spirit in every home. This spirit meets us at the door as we enter the home. how quickly you feel it when you enter the house. a sort of composite spirit composed of the thoughts and feelings of the members of the family as a composite photograph is formed of the features of different individuals. Poverty or riches. hospitable spirit..
For example. like it or not. dusty flour on her hands. It may well be that it is not our work that is so hard for us as the dread of it and our often expressed hatred of it. Perhaps it is our spirit and attitude toward life. where she could enjoy looking out at the "pictures" of the hills of Rocky Ridge. and its conditions that are giving us trouble instead of a shortage of time. we will have to learn to be joyful in all of it.58 Laura worked at trying to be happy. _____________ If we expect to enjoy our life. That way she could enjoy even the distasteful work of making bread. she disliked the work of kneading bread and the chilly feel of dry. and it makes a great difference with the day's work if we get enjoyment from it instead of looking for all our pleasure altogether apart from it. A feeling of pleasure in a task seems to shorten it wonderfully. She still had to make bread. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ . so she rolled her dough and cut her biscuits in front of a large window in her kitchen. as seems to be the habit of mind we are more and more growing into. Surely the days and nights are as long as they ever were. not just at stated intervals when we can get time or when we have nothing else to do.
. The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes. while a bird's song will set the steps to music all day long. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ .Let's not make such a habit of hurry and work that when we leave this world. _____________ As we go about our daily tasks the work will seem lighter if we enjoy these beautiful things that are just now outside our doors and windows..59 But Laura had a great natural capacity to appreciate the beauty that most people miss. ____________ A moment's pause to watch the glory of a sunrise or a sunset is soul satisfying. and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ She had a beautiful sense of the beautiful. It pays to go to the top of the hill now and then to see the view and to stroll through the woodlot or pasture forgetting that we are in a hurry or that there is such a thing as a clock in the world. we will feel impelled to hurry through the spaces of the universe using our wings for feather dusters to clean away the star dust.
Birds were calling to one another and telling of the wonderful Southland and the journey they must make before long. "You know. which almost seemed spoken to me. The whole. "Oh. vegetables and fruits that must be gathered and stored." I thought. the Saturday baking and the thousand things of the everyday routine to be done. the sunlight a little pale and the air with that quality of hushed expectancy that the coming of autumn brings.60 Have you honestly ever had anyone else tell you they were happy because they heard a bird singing? _____________ The sunlight and shadows in the wood were beautiful that morning. We do seem at times to have more than . in time. But my word! You'll not enjoy it!" I was horrified at these thoughts. drying apples to attend to. wide outdoors called me." I thought. but there was pickle to make. and when you are old and feeble and past active use. then you'll have all the leisure you ever have wanted. for a little time to enjoy the beauties around me. "Just a little while to be free of the tyranny of things that must be done!" A feeling of bitterness crept into my soul. "You'll have plenty of leisure someday when you are past enjoying it. and tired muscles and nerves rasped from the summer's rush pleaded for rest. you always get what you have longed for.
"You need not lose your power of enjoyment nor the sense of the beautiful if you desire to keep them. She did deeply appreciate the things that she and most others had. the most basic things of life.61 one personality. If we have been crippled and then are whole again. just a breath drawn free from pain is a matter for rejoicing." it said. She did not particularly care for the things most people think will make them happy -. as when we recover from a serious illness. and your appreciation of such things will grow and you will be able to enjoy your well-earned leisure when it comes even though you should be older and not so strong. for as I gave a dismayed gasp at the prospect. quiet voice. We must needs have been hungry to properly appreciate food. "Keep the doors of your mind and heart open to them.wealth and fame. the blessed privilege of walking forth free and unhindered seems a gift from the gods. It is all in your own hands and may be as you wish. _____________ Sometimes we recognize as a special blessing what heretofore we have taken without a thought as a matter of course. and we never love our friends as we should until they have been taken from . I seemed to hear a reply in a calm." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ One secret of Laura's happiness was simply that it didn't take a whole lot to make her happy.
She had marked certain sections of the Bible for special guidance in times of trouble. these stayed deep inside her. and unhappiness is their normal way of life. People who believe in the Creator God don't believe they live futile. Today we have many people who have gotten far away from this foundation.just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ The foundation of Laura's happiness as she grew older was her belief in the God of the Bible. A reader of the Little House books should . just warmth and shelter and home folks. I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common. just plain food that gives us strength. and she turned to the word of God and God Himself for comfort. People who are atheist or humanist by definition believe in nothing eternal. This means that even she had times when she was suffering and unhappy. and as an adult. worthless lives. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -. everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. As the years pass. As a little girl she had learned many Bible verses by heart. the bright sunshine on a cold day. Their lives are pointed toward extinction. and a cool breeze when the day is warm. Unhappy futility.62 us.
. Others go with the current freely. True. beautiful old age. they go floating safely along. "Growing old is the saddest thing in the world. gaining more courage and strength from their experience with the waves. or are we being beaten and cowed by the years as they pass?. frightened by the onward rush of the strong current and in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters. fighting all the way. longing for the shores that they have past. knowing they will bear them up.. Not long ago a friend said to me.this growing older? Are we coming to a cheerful. The stream of passing years is like a river with people being carried along in the current. and the sweetness of life.. character. trusting themselves to the buoyancy of the waters. we lose some things that we prize as time passes and acquire a few that we would prefer to be without. _____________ Just what does it mean to us -." Since then I have been thinking about growing old.63 remember that the most basic underpinning of Laura's happiness was her belief in the God of the Bible. And so with very little effort. Some are swept along. .. trying to decide if I thought her right. clutching at anything to retard their progress. trying to swim back up the stream. protesting. But we may gain infinitely more with the years than we lose in wisdom. But I cannot agree with her.
. either protesting the inevitable and looking longingly back toward years that are gone or with calmness and faith facing the future serene in the knowledge that the power behind life's currents is strong and good. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Again the question: what made Laura’s books so happy? She did.64 As New Year after New Year comes. these waves upon the river of life bear us farther along the ocean of Eternity.
The Land of the Big Red Apple was being advertised that way by the Frisco Railroad. And in Hartville. In Mansfield. Laura was great for promoting things like that. springing from the literaries started by Pa Ingalls in De Smet in the 1880's. What was that club? Emogene: Little Town on the Prairie talks about literaries and cultural events. there was no interest in a literary club. _____________ Editor: I understand you were a member of the Athenian Club with Laura Ingalls Wilder. she and the other ladies formed the Athenian Club on February 16. Wilder's . 1916. Emogene tells us the story of the Athenian Club. They moved to Mansfield in 1894. This club was Mrs. In her recollections. She had come from a family that was well read. This was a literary organization that was Laura's idea. But she got to know some of the ladies in Hartville. They were promoting this country down through here.65 Chapter 5 Emogene Fuge __________ Emogene Fuge was a member of the Athenian Club for over fifty years.
for eyes were stronger in the days before brilliant lights were so common. You older people who used to attend them.. How earnestly we used to line up for the struggle and valiantly contest for the honor of remaining longest on the floor.66 idea. and how we used to laugh . .. coming from the idea of the literaries in South Dakota. The lighting was good enough. Do you remember how the schoolchildren spoke their pieces and dialogs? It gave one a touch of distinction to speak a part in a dialog. Then came the debate.Well. that I would like to see come back again. parents and pupils from all over the district gathered at the schoolhouse. which used to belong to country life. sometimes a few of the pupils and some of the grownups. That is the old-fashioned Friday night literary at the schoolhouse. or again just the grownups took part in the debate. did you ever enjoy yourselves better anywhere? At early candle light. Sometimes the older pupils of the school. The questions debated were certainly threshed out to a conclusion. and it is time for the spelling-down match. the debate is finished. _____________ There is one social affair. bringing lanterns and candles and sometimes a glass lamp to give an added touch of dignity to the teacher’s desk.
67 when some small schoolchild spelled down an outsider who had forgotten the lessons in the old spelling book. Emogene: Mrs. The club mascot was the owl. the center of Greek culture. They took the name from Athens. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: Was this club part of a national organization? Emogene: No. The club flower was the violet. and still go on today. because it was purple. The idea of this club was for book reviews. Wilder was a woman before her time. She had a cultural and educational idea for women that hadn't been brought out in these parts or nationally. because only that many could fit into a home for the meetings. and it still has twenty members. for purposes of study and self-improvement. in a sense. The ladies came up with this club locally. even. The club could only have twenty members. Editor: So Pa's literaries from Little Town on the Prairie were transported down to the Ozarks. It has met every year since 1916. . They met the third Wednesday of each month for a luncheon. _____________ "The Athenians" is a woman's club just lately organized in Hartville. the color of royalty. because he was inquisitive.
Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: When do you first remember seeing Laura and Almanzo? Emogene: I lived on the old Hartville-Mansfield road. Anybody who traveled on that road who didn't come along every day was somebody to see. and the usual church aid societies and secret orders which count for so much in country towns. I think they got their . Still. there were a few busy women who felt something lacking. I was very young in 1916. My folks came here before the Civil War.68 Hartville was already well supplied with social organizations. They wanted to cultivate their minds and increase their knowledge. so they organized the little study club and have laid out a year's course of study. about eight years old. they started driving up in a car. also a whist club. Later. I remember the buggy going by with the matched set of Morgan horses. By the time they started driving up in a car. I remember seeing the Wilders come by once a month on their way to the club meeting. There was an embroidery club. the road had changed and didn't go by our house any more. They homesteaded a section near the Gasconade River and we still live on that land to this day. I only knew that these were people from Mansfield going to Hartville in a buggy once a month and that was a happening. They could not be satisfied altogether with social affairs.
with several others. What became of the time the motor car saved us? Why was everyone late and in a hurry? I used to drive leisurely over to this town with a team. I attended the meeting of a woman’s club in a neighboring town. we hurried in our friendly exchanges of conversation. _____________ A few days ago.” and the . taking less than an hour for the trip on which we used to spend three hours before the days of motor cars. instead of a feeling of rush and hurry. Instead. to save time. and all seemed in a hurry. spend a pleasant afternoon. “We have been planning for so long to come and see you. just after the First World War. they say. but we haven’t had time. We have so many machines and so many helps. we hurried away. I think they got a rather large touring car. and reach home not much later than I did this time.69 first car in 1919. and we hurried all the way home where we arrived late as usual. We hurried through the proceedings. We went in a motor car. which was very early to get a car. in one way and another. and yet I wonder what we do with the time we save. and all with a sense of there being time enough. Nobody seems to have any! Neighbors and friends go less often to spend the day. Nearly everyone was late. quite a showpiece. but we did not arrive at the time appointed nor were we the latest comers by any means.
and I became a member of the Athenian Club in 1937. Wilder went to the Athenian Club meeting. Wilder was a checker player and he would play checkers with them. There seems to be no time for anything. considering the timesaving. Editor: When did you join this literary club? Emogene: We had a grocery store here in Hartville for forty years and I taught school for thirty years. What becomes of the time we save? Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: What did Almanzo do while Laura was in Hartville? Emogene: He went to the jailhouse. the same as always. Wilder went to the jailhouse. modern conveniences. . so many times that I should feel perfectly safe to wager that I should hear it anytime the subject might be started.” I have heard this conversation.70 answer will be: “Everyone makes the same complaint. Mr. People don’t go visiting like they used to. Editor: The jailhouse? Emogene: While Mrs. We should have more. They had a visitors' room at the jail and there were always checker players there. We must have all the time there is. Mr. with only slight variations.
We held it at the Wright County Library. The theme of the lesson was their reasons for moving to Mansfield. yes. people didn't travel very far and we did not understand a winter such as that. That was before she wrote the book The Long Winter. Back then.71 Editor: Was Mrs. followed by years of drought. The local school children came and she had a picture of herself that she gave to each one that came. Wilder was a . I remember her giving one lesson on the Long Winter. She probably had it in her mind. We called them lessons. I think this lesson was in 1938. Editor: What were the club meetings like? Emogene: We gave lessons at the club. Wilder. we sponsored a tea for Mrs. That was the terrible winter they spent in the town of De Smet. Editor: Did Laura give lessons to the club? Emogene: Yes. Wilder still a member of the club when you joined? Emogene: Oh. At one time. Mrs. Editor: You mean presentations? Emogene: Yes.
even the children taking their turns. and there was not a case of sickness in town that winter. The last sack of flour sold for $50 and the last of the sugar at $1 a pound. out in the midst of the great Dakota prairies far ahead of the farming settlements. It was also a healthful food. She made you see what she was telling about. The small supply of provisions in town soon gave out.72 delightful talker. and two young men dared to drive fifteen miles to where a solitary settler had also laid in his supply of seed wheat. She wrote as she talked. _____________ De Smet was built as the railroad went through. Everybody ground wheat. It was at the risk of life that anyone went even a mile from shelter. brought in the fall before for seed in the spring. and from this first winter of its existence it was isolated from the rest of the world from December 1 until May 10 by the fearful blizzards that piled the snow forty feet deep on the railroad tracks. There was some wheat on hand. It may be that the generous supply of fresh air had . There were no mills in town or country so this wheat was all ground in the homes in coffee mills. for the storms came up so quickly and were so fierce it was literally impossible to see the hand before the face. They brought it in on sleds. and men had frozen to death within a few feet of shelter because they did not know they were near safety. and the resultant whole-wheat flour made good bread.
As the houses were new and unfinished so that the snow would blow in and drift across us as we slept. for even the wheat had come to short rations. Luckily. In the main street of town. there were also two immigrant cars well supplied with provisions which were taken out and divided among the . and the next night the wind might sweep the spot bare. snowdrifts in one night were piled as high as the second stories of the houses and packed hard enough to drive over. There is something in living close to the great elemental forces of nature that causes people to rise above small annoyances and discomforts. eager for supplies. then doubled and allowed to twist back on itself and the two ends tied together in a knot. either. Air is certainly fresh when the thermometer registers all the way from 15 to 40 degrees below zero with the wind moving at blizzard speed. but everyone took his turn good naturedly. making what we call a "stick of hay. A handful of hay was twisted into a rope.73 something to do with the general good health. The houses were not overheated in daytime. fresh air was not a luxury. for the fuel gave out early in the winter and all there was left with which to cook and keep warm was the long prairie hay." It was a busy job to keep a supply of these "sticks" ahead of a hungry stove when the storm winds were blowing. A train got through May 10 and stopped at the station. They found that what had been sent into the hungry town was a load of machinery. All the men in town were down at the tracks to meet it.
. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Editor: That must mean she was an awfully interesting talker. And she was busy writing. probably about 1938. Emogene: She was an interesting talker. from 1937 until her death in 1957. she was a reserved person. She didn't come on a regular basis too long after 1937. She attended at other times. She held you spellbound. Editor: Did Laura give any more lessons to the club? Emogene: That's the only time I ever remember her talking to us.74 people. she seemed like a younger person. but that's the only presentation I remember. But in person. She was just intense. The last twenty years. one to one. she always came once a month. but she was a member of the club until her death. even though in her seventies. Editor: You say that Laura was interesting when she was giving her presentation. Before that. she was here occasionally. was she very talkative? Emogene: As I knew her. By then she was getting to be an older lady.
Editor: You knew Laura. except for one period early in her marriage when she lived in Detroit. This began a close friendship between Silas and Neta Seal and Almanzo and Laura that continued through their lives. he was born in Tazewell. She grew up knowing who Laura and Almanzo were. except for the time we went to Detroit after we were married. Tennessee and his family moved here when he was a boy. until we took this trip. but not knowing them well personally. so my life has always been here. In 1939. Seal. Before that I had never known her very good. from being around town here? Neta: Well. And I learned to love her on that trip. she was a good friend of mine. .75 Chapter 6 Neta Seal __________ Neta Seal has lived in Mansfield all her life. the Wilders asked Neta's husband to drive for them as they made a trip across the US. My folks lived here on a farm. I knew of her. how did you and your husband Silas wind up here in the Ozarks? Neta: Well. We took a trip with them one time. I would presume. _____________ Editor: Mrs. but to be a personal friend she wasn't.
We started on back home then and got home the thirtieth of May. my husband would always wash their windshield. so by the time you took that trip she was already a famous person. you don't know if I'm going to buy a thing from you. and we got a hotel. Wilder would come in once or twice a week. I believe it was. and they stayed all night but we got a motel. My husband had a service station up here and Mr. and saw Grace and her husband and they stayed all night with them. Editor: What kind of car did the Wilders have? Neta: I think it was Hudson. Wilder said to him. We were gone three weeks. And then the next day we went over to De Smet. I'm not sure. but no. It was either a Hudson or a Cadillac and I think it was a Hudson. So one day Mr. but you give me this free service and then you ask me if I . and up the coast in Washington and Oregon and down to the Black Hills. I hadn't read them. "Seal. 1939.76 Editor: Where did you go? Neta: California. when we took that trip. Editor: Laura's first books were published around 1932. When anybody came in to the station. We went to see Carrie. Had you read her books by then? Neta: I knew she had written those books. air their tires and then ask them what they wanted.
we were out to Rocky Ridge and they were in to visit us. . "To get to take that trip I can put up with anything." I thought about Mrs. Silas came in one day and said." My husband said. I had never been to California. After we came back.77 want something. "Well. "With who? And how?" He said. I learned to just love her. all the time. when they were paving the street through Mansfield. Wilder. "Do I want to go that bad?" Finally I said." That just set it off with Mr. and I love traveling. and the right amount of air in your tires. back and forth. we were going to have to close up the station because nobody could get in or out. "Neta. After that. I asked myself. and from then on my husband was his friend. Wilder wants me to drive him out there. We'd been to Oregon and Idaho and out through there. So Mr. In 1939. Mr. and she seemed kind of reserved. Wilder. though. if you drive a car you need a clean windshield. Wilder. "Mr." On that trip. we were real friends. Wilder asked Silas if he would drive him to California. how would you like to take a trip to California?" Well. I can't understand that. so I said.
you'd see them in passing. not as a friend. and I think some even in Hartville. To us. they were high society. Editor: Before she wrote her books? Neta: Yeah. too. . Editor: On the trip. She talked about Carrie. You know. Editor: You would just see her around. but not too much. Mrs. That was when the government wouldn't let them mine. Did you see her around town much before you got to know her? Neta: Oh. Wilder was a reserved person. And they were friends with the main people in town. you know. Wilder paid her taxes. Wilder. Mrs. and she didn't even have enough money to pay her taxes. but. I'd known her ever since I was a kid. and I knew that was Mrs. yes. you know. going shopping or whatever she was doing? Neta. Carrie's husband had died and he had left her a gold mine.78 Editor: So you say that up until you got to know her in 1939. because the Wilders were somebody. did Laura talk about the Ingalls family much? Neta: She would talk about her mother and father some. Yes.
They didn't have much money. she never did. Did Carrie or Grace have any children? Neta: No. did Laura talk about the town and point out different things of interest? Neta: No.79 Editor: That's something. we went down to where her gold mine was. But they went back -him and her -. We just went in to see Grace. I know Grace didn't. I don't think either one of them had any. I think it was De Smet where they lived. Editor: Was she able to meet quite a few people that she had known? Neta: Not on that trip. Editor: Was he a newspaperman? Neta: I don't remember what he did. and if Carrie ever did I don't remember hearing Mrs. Own a gold mine and can't pay your taxes.when he was able to drive again up that . She lived in the foothills of the Black Hills. While we were out there. she wasn't. Wilder speak about it. Editor: Then you went on in to see Grace? Neta: Grace and her husband were both living there. Editor: As you went into De Smet. either.
We'd sing those songs over and over. She'd picked up the nuts and we had apples. Laura just wasn't all that much of a talker. . I taught her two little songs that I knew weren't very long.80 far. they had lots of pecans. Around and around and around. So waltz me around and around. Editor: What were they? Neta: Let me think a minute. those were our knick-knacks. They had pecan trees out there on the place and. so I took apples and she took pecan nuts and we ate them. who carried on most of the conversation? Neta: She and I rode in the back seat. Oh. at that time. And she liked to sing. they had an Old Settler's Day. Editor: Yes. waltz me around. We didn't have anything else. O Willie. I'll give you some kisses To make up for misses. As we rode along. if I'm not mistaken. I think they went back the next year after we were there. Well. and then she met all of her friends. We'd talk about everything that we saw. She really did like them. was she? As the four of you rode in the car.
We'd sing those two songs over and over. But no amount of travel will give us rest and recreation if we carry our work and worries with us. I ride the running board. I buy her everything. even though we are obliged to stay at home. My money goes To buy my baby clothes. Laura Ingalls _____________ Neta: We were out in Oregon and Mr. She drives a Cadillac. Editor: Those are fun songs. that's where my money goes. if we will only drop our burdens from our minds for a while.81 She liked that one best." . _____________ We can take a wonderful vacation in spirit. We were going through a forest with a lot of myrtle trees and he said. boy. Then the other one was: She drives a little red Ford. Oh. Wilder liked to make canes out of different woods. I walk to work and back. boy. "Silas. Oh. that's where my money goes. I've got to have me a myrtle cane. For to keep her in style.
He made Silas stop and I don't remember how Silas got the limb off the tree -. Neta." He was a writer and he had a little cabin down there on the hillside. Wilder had wandered off down on the hillside and she hollered." Editor: Was Almanzo much of a talker? Neta: Yes. And while we were there on top of Mt. He had met Rose. he was. come here!" I went rushing down there and she said. "I've met a man from Missouri and he knows Rose. She'd tell me something about going to church. he got this limb and put it in the back. and I'd tell her about mine. Anyway. Editor: Did Laura talk about religion much? Neta: Well.he might have had an ax in the back. there was a platform where you could see seven different counties.82 So we came to a tree that had a small limb just the right size for a cane. He lived in that and wrote books. Mrs. "Let's get out of this place quick. Silas said. sometimes we'd talk about religion. so he and Laura had quite a visit. you know. We hadn't gone no distance until there was a big sign saying that you'd be prosecuted for bothering anything. "Oh. Diablo. Editor: She had this list of scriptures that she'd written .
in a very detailed way? Neta: Not too much. Did Laura ever talk about the Bible at all like that. and things like that. . they'd come up the hill. Editor: They built the front of the house to face that old road. they changed it some way. We'd just talk about everyday living. the road used to go by the creek. didn't it? Neta: Well. Neta: That's right. they were somebody big around town. they did. I don't know whether anybody else felt that way. make a circle drive and back down." Editor: So you say that right before you got to know the Wilders. All these scriptures applied to different things in life. when we'd go out there. instead of highway 60. and things we'd done. Editor: Did you ever go out to their house before you got to know them in 1939? Neta: No. but I did. I know at their house. They've changed all of that now. didn't they? Neta: Yes. She really read her Bible. things we wanted to do. Editor: Out at the farm.83 down that Rose found in her Bible.
there was just a week's difference in the two birthdays -. we'd go take them on drives. I'd call at ten o'clock every morning. Wilder came. I had Swiss steak. he said. and if she didn't answer me . "Now I won't brag on your dinner. The way I fixed it. Before Mr.the Sunday that come between their birthdays. After he passed away." So all he said was. "Now Neta.84 Editor: That makes the house look like it's not facing the road now. The first time Mr. And we'd go out and eat together. "Thanks for the dinner. But anyway he said. it was so tender. So one day as it was getting close to the birthday dinner. every Sunday we went out there. Laura told me not to. yes. On their birthday -. but he liked my steak. I can't brag on your meat this time. just a day or two. whether she was jealous of him or what. 'cause you could cut it with a fork. Editor: You kept close contact with her? Neta: Oh. 'cause we were out there in and out all the time." Then we would go out there and eat. When was the last time you saw Laura before she died. Now I'm not a good cook and never was. and sometimes through the week. Neta: Oh." I don't know why. I'd have them up for dinner. Wilder died.
He said. and it doesn't bother me a bit. Almanzo thought goat . I would think so.85 I'd call my husband at work. after Mr. He'd even sold his goats. On his shoe. when we got to know him." He could pull it up by the roots and handle it. I had a key to the house and we'd go out there and see if she was all right. Editor: You must have been very close to Laura. it would go and hop up on the platform. he had quit farming. There was a lot of poison oak down in the ravine and he let the goats run down there. He had to walk with a cane. and he had that club foot. Wilder died. He loved his goats. He didn't have them anymore. He had a goat barn and had a little platform built. but he never did get that poison oak. "Now I can drink the milk and I can work with that poison oak. Especially at the last. Sometimes she'd just slept over and didn't hear the telephone. we were. Editor: I would think that would have made it tough for him to farm. the heel and sole were built away up. That leg was a lot shorter. Almanzo would bring his stool up and milk it. When he would let one of the goats in. too. Neta: Yes. He was ten years older than her. Of course. Neta: Yes.
Editor: Did Laura ever talk to you about her books? Neta: Some. and her first book had been written in the early thirties. Editor: You went on that trip in 1939. No. Neta: Yes. she never did really. I wouldn't part from them. she never did. Editor: Do you still have them? Neta: Yeah. She did tell me this -. Editor: Was she a storyteller? Neta: Well. unfolding as she wrote. I don't know whether she was or not. and she made butter from it. and she wrote a book about every two years or so.She said a lot of nights when she'd go to bed. Editor: Did Laura drink goat milk? Neta: Yes.86 milk was healthy. but not too much. So by '39. Sometimes maybe she'd write as it kept coming. she would have had about four or five books written. . and she gave me a set of her books and autographed every one of them for me. she'd wake up and some of the things would be coming to her and she'd get up and start writing. She would write maybe till the wee hours of the morning. because she never did tell me any.
and watch this movie. It's been several years ago. "We had to change it to make it more interesting." Editor: That's something. You know.87 When she got tired. Why have you changed it? This is not like Pa. "No. She didn't make up anything or add to it at all. her books were very descriptive and she could describe things like few people could. I won't sign this. Neta: Like it really was. and they won't know which is right. until she read the script that they were going to use." They said.Well. she said. When they brought it. "No. The children will read my books. or a lot of places. And they wanted to make a movie of The Long Winter. One time there was some people came down here. She turned down Hollywood's . of course. she didn't much like the way they talked. So she told them that she wouldn't sign any rights for them to make a movie of it. that old fashioned settee that's in the room." She said. My books are just like I lived them. And she said the way they talked -. Almanzo would get up and she was sleeping. Editor: When Laura wrote. He'd go on about the chores. too. and he'd never wake her up. or our family. she'd go over there and lay down on that couch.
But Michael Landon -. If he had really gotten to the root of the matter. that she would have approved of the TV show. from world domination to a stick of striped candy -. I am sure he would have found that root to be selfishness -.88 money to maintain the accuracy of her books. maybe once in a while they'd bring in something that might have been right. Not many people would have done that! _____________ "Money is the root of all evil. Editor: So they never made The Long Winter movie? Neta: Oh. just selfishness. but I didn't watch it. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Do you think. It was a good clean show.I guess he put that extra to make it "interesting". Oh. no. . Why all the mad scramble for money? Why are we all "moneymad Americans"? It is just for our selfish gratification with things that money can buy. then. but I think that proverb maker only dug down part way around the plant of evil. Little House on the Prairie? Neta: I don't. as that other group told her. I knew she wouldn't like it 'cause it wasn't the way she lived it.selfishness.just selfishness pure and simple. It stopped right there." says the proverb.
her neighbors. Did Laura like the farm? Neta: She loved it out there. It had hyacinths on the outer edge and irises on the inside." . After Mr. She had a bunch of chickens that she liked. They'd go bring the mail up to her and do any of the chores they could do for her. After they had sold their own chickens. I've done something terrible. But these neighbor's chickens would come over there and they would scratch up her flowers. "One of them old hens went to laying in my well house and I'm using the eggs. Editor: Did she get out and garden herself? Neta: I'm sure she did. but her job was raising chickens. they had a discussion over whether or not they should be farmers. had two boys. "Well. Lordy mercy! What have you done that's so terrible? And I said. Wilder died." And I thought. They were awfully good to her. "Neta. She told them about it but they didn't put them up. But that was all before my day. they had this round bed out in front of the house. the Jones. The chickens still came over.89 Editor: When Laura and Almanzo got married. what's happened?" She said. So one day she called me and said. She didn't have any chickens when I knew her.
Laura's books were extremely positive. I don't think it did. and that was the last one I ever read. One day she was getting in our car and she said. "Well. She had done something terrible. Editor: Did the fact that they had different outlooks on life create a problem between them? Neta: No. I don't blame you." That tickled me. She had used them eggs." Editor: In their books. I think it's perfectly all right. I just didn't care for her books. I don't care for Rose's books. She never said a bad word about Pa or Ma or Almanzo. You've told them and told them to keep their chickens up. and hardly about Nellie Oleson. Rose was more rough. "I just feel so mean about them eggs. Editor: Were Laura and Rose that different in person? Neta: Yes. She said. Rose's books had a sharper edge. That was when Mrs. We had a Hudson car and you had to step way down in it. Wilder was in the hospital in Springfield and we were taking Rose up there. yes.90 I said. I read Let the Hurricane Roar. and they still come over. Just go ahead and use them. Laura and Rose seemed different. Neta: Oh. "It's just like . they were.
Neta: I think so. That's another thing that Mrs. Editor: Any idea where the old camping spot was west of town? Neta: It might have been across the track. and then he'd move on. She was satisfied out there. I never did hear her talk bad about anybody. just as she wrote. Rose's marriage and divorce from Lane. Editor: Why didn't Rose marry again? Neta: I don't know. They've had picnics over there and it was a good . no. Editor: I suppose that Laura was very positive in person. whenever he moved." I thought. could just stay so long.91 getting in and out of hell to get out of this car. if you don't change your ways. sister. Yes. There used to be a grove of trees over there and it could have been there. But she was perfectly satisfied out there on Rocky Ridge Farm. Wilder never talked to me about. you'll think it's like getting in hell. Her Pa was a man who. Editor: Did Laura ever talk about wanting to move someplace else? Neta: Oh. she was.
widearmed chairs. We were getting ready to go to church -.92 place to have things like that. Editor: What happened to the boys? Neta: I don't know.so we went out there. When we got out there. MFA has a building over there now. Wilder called us and told us that he was sick and to come quick.they're all gone. but she was just a-holding him in that chair.the Birneys. Editor: What happened to the Cooleys who came down with the Wilders? Neta: They both died. I knew he was gone. Editor: She just wouldn't let him go? Neta: No. Hoovers and the Rogers that she visited with -. he's gone. I imagine they're gone. he was sitting in one of those big. So after that. we would call her and talk to her and we were out there all the time. 'cause you could tell that he was. too. Editor: Do you recall when Almanzo passed away? Neta: Well. Cooleys. Mrs. "No. We called the doctor out and he said." We were satisfied that he was. She depended on . and she was holding him in the chair. 'cause all that -.Sunday night -.
There was a friend of Laura's that lived north of town. Rose came in a day or two.93 us a lot. "Well. Editor: Did you stay with her that night? Neta: I don't remember. Editor: While Laura was holding Almanzo. you know what? Mary asked to stay. "It's all right." I don't remember how long I stayed with her until she said. but she won't go to bed. "Neta. So I said." She said. She sleeps in a chair. I'll stay with you." The bed next to her office was his bed. did she know he had gone? Neta: I think she did. she said. when we went to go to bed. and Laura said. You can go home now. will you stay at night with me for a while?" My husband didn't care if I went and stayed with her for a while. and hers was next to the bathroom. "Neta. do you care if I sleep in Almanzo's bed and you sleep in mine?" . She just didn't want to let him go. and she wanted to stay with her. Mary Pool. I'm not going to let her stay here with me if she won't go to bed. "Yes. yes. That night. I think she stayed about two nights after he was buried.
She was that kind of person. but she did pretty good.94 And I said. Editor: How did she take his death? Neta: She held up good. Editor: Why did they have two beds? Neta: I don't know. "I don't care where I sleep. . I could tell it was hurting her." I don't know if she felt closer to him sleeping in his bed. That was the first time I ever knew of people having twin beds.
written in 1923. .. ruining the good land in its way. We hold the property in trust and have no right to injure it or to lessen its value. To do so is dishonest. . Tall weeds and brambles were taking more strength from the soil already so poor that grass would scarcely grow. stealing from our heirs their inheritance. as large estates frequently are.95 Chapter 7 Laura’s Thoughts on Country Life Thoughts on taking care of the farm. so that while we inherit the earth. _____________ While driving one day. The world is the beautiful estate of the human family passing down from generation to generation.We are the heirs of the ages. The creek had been allowed to change its course in the bottom of the field and had cut out a new channel.. but the estate is entailed. the great round world which is God’s footstool. I passed a worn-out farm. marked by each holder while in his possession according to his character. we have only the use of it while we live and must pass it on to those who come after us. Deep gullies were cut through the fields where the dirt had been washed away by the rains.
and our tomatoes smooth and beautifully colored. It should be a matter of pride to keep our own farm. in good condition. with fields free from gullies and the soil fertile. our lettuce tender. that little bit of the earth’s surface for which we are responsible.96 Did you ever think how a bit of land shows the character of the owner? A dishonest greed is shown by robbing the soil. passing it on to our successor better than we found it. Best of all. while carelessness and laziness are plainly to be seen in deep scars on the hillsides and washes in the lower fields.in a seed catalog. and I know of no pleasanter occupation these cold. making garden with a pencil . Trees should be growing where otherwise would be waste places. there is not a bug or . What perfect vegetables we do raise in that way and so many of them! Our radishes are crisp and sweet. snowy days than to sit warm and snug by the fire. _____________ Now is the time to make your garden! Anyone can be a successful gardener at this time of year. _____________ Thoughts on looking at a seed catalog in the winter of 1918. the traits of a spendthrift are shown in wasting the resources of the farm by destroying its woods and waters. with the waters protected as much as possible from the hot sun and drying winds.
but why enumerate? Because allowance for that word “if” was not made in the figuring. if prices . thrifty rows with the fruits of each plant and vine numerous and beautiful as the pictures before us. There was nothing wrong with my friend’s figuring except that he left out the word “if. if I had been so constituted that I never became weary. a friend inquired as to the profits of the flock and.97 worm in the whole garden. the whole result was wrong. I am still obliged to be economical.if the hens had performed according to schedule. In imagination we see the plants in our spring garden. all in straight. alas. he figured I would be a millionaire within five years. The five years are past. taking my accounts as a basis. It is so much easier to plan than it is to accomplish. No one ever achieved anything from the smallest object to the greatest . if the hawks had loved field mice better than spring chickens.” and that made all the difference between profits figured out on paper and those worked out by actual experience. My Leghorns would have made me a millionaire -. It is necessary that we dream now and then. but. and the work is so easily done. How near the real garden of next summer approaches the ideal garden of our winter fancies depends upon how practically we dream and how we work. When I started my small flock of Leghorns a few years ago.
_____________ The Man of the Place was worried about the weather. but when once the dream is dreamed. in 1924.98 unless the dream was dreamed first. it is time to wake up and “get busy”. I said at that time that thereafter I would sow the seed. and ever since I have been remembering droughts.” _____________ Thoughts on the droughts in Dakota Territory. He said the indications were for a dry season. about forty years after. Those who stop dreaming never accomplish anything. We must “do great deeds. We must first see the vision in order to realize it. How heartbreaking it was to watch the grain we had sown with such high hopes wither and turn yellow in the hot winds! And it was backbreaking as well as heartbreaking to carry water from the well to my garden and see it dry up despite all my efforts. not dream them all day long. There were dry years in the Dakotas when we were beginning our life together. _____________ . we must have the ideal or we cannot approach it. for I could not do my work and that of Providence also by sending the rain on the gardens of the just or the unjust. but the Lord would give the increase if there was any.
Thoughts on the hard working parents of Farmer Boy, in 1920. _____________
The Man of the Place and I were sitting cozily by the fire. The evening lamp was lighted and the day’s papers and the late magazines were scattered over the table. But though we each held in our hands our favorite publications, we were not reading. We were grumbling about the work we had to do and saying all the things usually said at such times.
“People used to have time to live and enjoy themselves, but there is no time anymore for anything but work, work, work.” Oh, we threshed it all over as everyone does when they get that kind of grouch, and then we sat in silence. I was wishing I had lived altogether in those good old days when people had time for things they wanted to do. What the Man of the Place was thinking, I do not know; but I was quite surprised at the point in which he had arrived, when he remarked out of the silence, in rather a meek voice, “I never realized how much work my father did. Why, one winter he sorted 500 bushels of potatoes after supper by lantern light. He sold them for $1.50 a bushel in the spring, too, but he must have got blamed tired of sorting potatoes down cellar every night until he had handled more than 500 bushel of them.”
“What did your mother do while your father was sorting potatoes?” I asked. “Oh, she sewed and knit,” said the Man of the Place. “She made all our clothes, coats and pants, undergarments for Father and us boys as well as everything she and the girls wore, and she knit all our socks and mittens -- shag mittens for the men folks, do you remember, all fuzzy on the outside? She didn’t have time enough in the day to do all the work and so she sewed and knit at night.”
I looked down at the magazine in my hand and remembered how my mother was always sewing or knitting by the evening lamp. I realized that I never had done so except now and then in cases of emergency. But the Man of the Place was still talking. “Mother did all her sewing by hand then,” he said, “and she spun her own yarn and wove her own cloth. Father harvested his grain by hand with a sickle and cut his hay with a scythe. I do wonder how he ever got it done.” Again we were silent, each busy with our own thoughts. I was counting up the time I give to club work and lodge work and -- yes, I’ll admit it -- politics. My mother and my mother-in-law had none of these, and they do use up a good many hours. Instead of all this, they took time once in a while from their day and night working to go visit a neighbor for the day.
“Time to enjoy life!” Well, they did enjoy it, but it couldn’t have been because they had more time. Why should we need extra time in which to enjoy ourselves? If we expect to enjoy our life, we will have to learn to be joyful in all of it, not just at stated intervals when we can get time or when we have nothing else to do. It may well be that it is not our work that is so hard for us as the dread of it and our often expressed hatred of it. Perhaps it is our spirit and attitude toward life, and its conditions that are giving us trouble instead of a shortage of time. Surely the days and nights are as long as they ever were. A feeling of pleasure in a task seems to shorten it wonderfully, and it makes a great difference with the day’s work if we get enjoyment from it instead of looking for all our pleasure altogether apart from it, as seems to be the habit of mind we are more and more growing into. ...As I thought of my neighbors and myself, it seemed to me that we were all slighting our work to get time for a joyride of one kind or another. Not that I object to joyriding! The more the merrier, but I’m hoping for a change of mind that will carry the joy into the work as well as the play.
“I guess we’re not having such a hard time after all. But I was used to their clamor and not alarmed even when one swooped down and struck my bonnet. like the bush.When the Man of the Place and I. with the small daughter. but all play and no work would make hoboes of us. weedy bush that grows all through the Ozarks. is also worthless. _____________ Out in the berry patch. which. well. They talked of a food shortage and threatened terrible things to profiteers who took more than their share of the necessaries of life. Here are Laura’s thoughts on making a buckberry pie. So let’s enjoy the work we must do to be respectable. and it makes Jill also very dull indeed. I knew they would not harm me and kept right on picking berries. came to Missouri some years ago.” surely. “Oh. The Man of the Place had evidently kept right on thinking of the work his father used to do.” he said as he rose and lighted the lantern preparatory to making his late round to see that everything was all right at the barns. we tried to save all the wild fruit in the woods... Coming from the .” _____________ Buckbrush is a worthless. It depends a good deal on how you look at it. . the bluejays scolded me for trespassing.102 “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
strawberries. Immediately. X.. I went out into the little cleared space in the woods where the low huckleberry bushes grew and gathered a bucket of berries. and we were impatiently waiting for them to ripen when somebody told me that the green ones made good pies.. the visitors seemed to hesitate. and blackberries which grew so abundantly everywhere on the hills. “Oh!” I exclaimed. Company was coming to dinner next day.” said Mrs. we could not bear to see go to waste the perfectly delicious wild huckleberries. . we reveled in the wild fruit. I took a mouthful of my piece and found it bitter as gall. “They told me green huckleberries were good!” “These can’t be huckleberries. “for green huckleberries do make good pies.103 plains of Dakota where the only wild fruit was the few chokecherries growing on the banks of the small lakes. Huckleberries came first. I never tasted gall.” . for I did want my new neighbors to enjoy the visit. for as yet there was no tame fruit on the place.So when we came to the Ozarks. and I took special pains to make a good pie of the berries. but after one taste. And the crust of the pie was deliciously crisp and flaky. but that is the bitterest expression I know and nothing could be more bitter than that pie.
“throw away that old dash church. the milk is churned. and we have enjoyed many a green huckleberry pie since then. He had bought the churn to please me and to lighten my work.” said he. By repeatedly raising the plunger up and down.” The Man of the Place once bought me a patent churn. except for thee and me. and you must have made a mistake when you gathered them.104 Mr. This churn will bring the butter in three minutes. . “and sometimes I think thee is a little queer. Almanzo.” It was very kind of him. _____________ “All the world is queer. and mischief. “These are buckberries. (A churn is a small barrel with a plunger on a handle.) “Now. _____________ Laura’s thoughts on milk churns. “They grow on a bush about the size of a huckleberry bush.” said the old Quaker to his wife. but I looked upon it with a little suspicion.” he said.” And so I added to my knowledge the difference between huckleberries and buckberries. and butter is made. X was examining the berries in his portion.
We had no engine. then you can hold the churn down easily!” And so when I churned I sat on a board in the correct mode for horseback riding and though the churn bucked some. It was hard to do. However. “I wish. but I could never loosen it and usually cut my hands on the sharp tin. and I would have used it anyway because the Man of the Place had been so kind.” “Oh!” said he.” said I to the Man of the Place. and the old one takes half a day. Put one end of a board on the churn and the other on a chair and sit on the board. one hand holding it down to the floor with grim resolution. while the other turned the handle with the strength of despair as the cream thickened.105 There was only one handle to turn and opposite it was a place to attach the power from a small engine. “you would bring in my old dash churn. it seemed that I could use it no longer. I managed to hold my seat. but the butter did come quickly. “I wish you would bring in my old dash churn. Finally. “you can churn in three minutes with this.” I said to the Man of the Place. “I believe it is easier to use than this after all. The tin paddles which worked the cream were sharp on the edges. (It was where I could not get . I used the new churn. and they were attached to the shaft by a screw which was supposed to be loosened to remove the paddles for washing. so the churning needed to be done with one hand while the other steadied the churn and held it down.
just as far as I could. I want to churn this morning. pshaw!” said he. and paddles all attached . It struck on the handle. and he replied regretfully. landed on the paddles. crumpled and lay still -. What’s the use to spend half a day --” “I can’t. I would like to .) I cut my hands on these paddles every time I wash them.106 to it. and the paddles were a wreck. shaft. wheels. “It’s broken.” “Why.to the side door which is quite high from the ground and threw it as far as I could. use the churn you have. the shaft was bent.” I interrupted. how did that happen?” he asked. “you can churn with this churn in three minutes --” One day when the churn had been particularly annoying and had cut my hand badly.and I went out and kicked it before I picked it up.” “Oh. “I wish I had known that you did not want to use it.” I remarked casually to the Man of the Place.” said he. “Oh. The handle was broken off.handle. rebounded.” I answered in a small voice. “I wish. “You can churn in three minutes with it. “that you would bring in my old dash churn. I took the mechanism of the churn -. “I dropped it -.
” _____________ Laura’s thoughts on the independence of a small farm. All this. we could go very comfortably through the year without a thing more than we now have on the place. There are some things we need and much that we would like to get. but I suppose if those working people had a year’s supply of fuel and provisions and no rent to pay. and eggs are provided. During the summer when I have read of the high wages paid in factories and shops. as the Irishman said. A year’s supply of fruit and sweetening are at hand and a plentiful supply of fuel in the wood lot. _____________ The Man of the Place and I have realized with something of the shock of a surprise that we do not need to buy anything during the coming year.” As the old Quaker remarked to his wife. butter. .107 have the wheels and shaft. There is wheat for our bread and potatoes. there are beans and corn and peas. “Sometimes I think thee is a little queer. milk. both Irish and sweet. cream. but if it were necessary. but they’re ruined now. to say nothing of the surplus. Our meat. there has been a little feeling of envy in the back of my mind. After all. they would think it wonderful good fortune.
” The Man of the Place and I had known before that farmers are independent. The rich buy their ice in the summer.108 “Everything is evened up in this world. but we never had realized it. Have you realized it personally or do you just know in a general way? Thanksgiving will soon be here. but the poor get theirs in the winter. and it is time to be getting our blessings in order. But why wait for Thanksgiving? Why not just be thankful now? _____________ . and there is a difference between knowing and realizing.
It was my mother who came. Her family came to Mansfield a decade after Laura and Almanzo did. . then we'd be going to work in shirt factories. He was already passed away. Editor: How old were you then? Anna: I was three years old. Like many other people in the area. The Wilders came to Mansfield in 1894. Editor: Where did your family come from? Anna: Leavenworth. If we lived in the city. and she knew the Wilders for about half a century. and her idea was that the rural area was the best there is.109 Chapter 8 Anna Gutschke _____________ Anna Gutschke was a longtime resident of the Mansfield area. Kansas. My father didn't come. she was a dairy farmer and she is known in Wright County for her years of work with the local 4-H groups. _____________ Editor: When did your family come to Mansfield? Anna: My family came to Missouri in 1904. until she moved to Springfield in 1983.
Editor: Did she buy a farm around Mansfield? Anna: Yes. She bought it without the guardian's permission. When my father died, the court appointed a guardian over us, and her attorney, the guardian, told her what to do and what not to do. They didn't recognize my mother's knowledge. Editor: Where was the farm? Anna: It was about five miles north of Mansfield, around county road AB. We owned 120 acres and it had a spring that never went dry. Later I was in the dairy business there with registered Ayrshire cattle. Editor: When your family came to Mansfield in 1904, the Wilders had been here for ten years. What is your first memory of them? Anna: They came out to our house for Thanksgiving dinner for several years. Mr. Wilder brought his Morgan stallion. How the whole thing got started with Mrs. Wilder and my mother being friends -- My mother was five foot two and Mrs. Wilder was five foot two. They say she was four ten but she was five foot two. In those days, there weren't as many commercial sewing patterns for sale. There was a lady who had a lot of patterns in her shop. You could come in there and stitch newspapers together and make your own patterns. She had a fabric shop.
That's how it all got started. Mrs. Wilder remained a friend to us after my mother died in 1929. Editor: What were the Wilders like when they come to your house for Thanksgiving? Anna: Oh, they were nice. It's just that Mrs.Wilder wanted my mother to borrow money from the Farm Loan Board. Mrs. Wilder was treasurer of that for years and years. There was no need for my mother to borrow money. We had everything. There were lots and lots of apples and peaches. You had everything. You didn't buy too much.
Editor: How did Mrs. Wilder dress when she came to your house for Thanksgiving? Anna: Oh, she came in velvet. Bright colors, a wine color. Editor: Did she wear a hat? Anna: Yes. She always had one of those fancy chapeaus with fur and lots of veiling, but tiny. She was a very formal dresser. And then, just ordinary, everyday, when you'd contact her, she wore a dress -- calico, white with black, tiny figures of some kind, and it had a stand up collar. Editor: Did she wear a hat then?
Anna: Oh, yes. Editor: Some people have described Mrs. Wilder as being quiet and reserved. What was she like to you? Anna: She was strict and had strong opinions. She had a temper and it flared. She wanted everybody to borrow money like they did. She was the treasurer of the Farm Loan Board for many, many years. Editor: In her books Laura mentioned her tendency to speak too quickly. Once, when she was going off to teach at the Brewster School, Pa Ingalls cautioned her that sometimes she tended to speak before she thought. In her writings, Rose also mentioned that her mother flared up at her father. Anna: Mrs. Wilder would have to sell milk or cream. Cream is what Mrs. Wilder sold, and my brother purchased the cream in Mansfield for the Willow Springs Creamery Company. Mr. Wilder would unload her cream and her eggs. Editor: How about Mr. Wilder? What was he like? Anna: Mr. Wilder was one of the greatest men. He had great humor. He enjoyed entertaining. He was absolutely the greatest. He had lots of fun. He was a joy. Mr. Wilder worked constantly. He drove a dray, hauling things to Ava. It is a spring wagon. That would be an all
. They were protected from the cold by cloth that was heavier than oilcloth. It was hard work and sometimes short rations at the first. improve the farm. At the Farmers Exchange. and had very little except our bare hands with which to pay it off. there were on the place four acres cleared and a small log house with a fireplace and no windows. You could bring it up and you could have as many blankets and hot bricks under your feet as you wanted. The four acres cleared had been set out to apple trees. We had to put a mortgage on it of $200. and there was not grass enough growing on the whole forty acres to keep a cow. and enough trees to set twenty acres more were in nursery rows near the house. Wilder in there almost every time. you could meet Mr. That's the way they traveled. These were practically all the improvements. _____________ So we bought Rocky Ridge Farm and went to work. that my wife and myself with my broken health were able to do all this. and make our living while we did it. rough and rocky as it was.113 day trip to go to Ava in a horse drawn vehicle. but gradually the difficulties were overcome. The land on which to set them was not even cleared of the timber. At the time I bought it.. Land was . It speaks well for the farm.
She was already writing for the Missouri Ruralist. farther west past the Presbyterian Church. which has made a beautiful park of the grounds. This good grass and clear spring water make it an ideal dairy farm. The timber around the buildings was thinned out enough so that grass would grow between the trees. Almanzo Wilder _____________ Editor: So the first time you remember seeing the Wilders was when they came to your house for Thanksgiving? Anna: Right. The rocks have been picked up and grass seed sown so that the pastures and meadows are in fine condition and support quite a little herd of cows. Editor: Where was this house? Anna: It was in town across the tracks. Fields were cleared and brought to a good state of fertility. for grass grows remarkably well on "Rocky Ridge.114 cleared and prepared by heroic effort in time to set out all the apple trees. That was in 1908 through 1912." when the timber is cleared away to give it a chance. They had a boarding house for the railroad men. and in a few years the orchard came into bearing. Editor: Is the building still standing? . and each tree would grow in good shape.
When Almanzo would pick Laura up. Editor: They couldn't board many people there. They could eat there. Everything would fly in every direction. Wilder was a very. There were hotels and things for them to live in. It would have been dangerous but Mr. It would rare up on its hind feet. . It was a three room house.115 Anna: No. Editor: Almanzo had a Morgan stallion that he used for breeding. he would have to stay in the buggy and hold the horse while Laura got in. Yeah. it's not. Editor: That reminds me of the examples in Laura's books where Almanzo drove wild horses. could they? Anna: No. He must have liked the challenge of driving wild horses. he drove the animal. It had a nice big kitchen. but you've said he also drove it. but they couldn't sleep there. very cautious man. they couldn't. You couldn't tie the horse to a park rail or anything because he would jerk the whole thing. So he remained in the vehicle and just kept moving the animal. Anna: Right. I think they wanted to arrest him for speeding with a horse. and they ate in the kitchen. It wouldn't stand.
did they have speed limits in town? Anna: Yes. Editor: When was this? . We bred some horses to that Morgan. and you know you have to have very strong hands to hold an animal like that. with the Model T.116 Were there any cars around Mansfield then? Anna: No. Editor: What do you recall about Rose? Anna: Rose and her friends were my brother's friends and would come out to visit him. There were enough steep hillsides for all kinds of sleds. The Ford dealership was established around 1918. The winters weren't colder but they were snowier. They froze over and that would be for the entire city for skating. Editor: Before cars. Out in the area we lived were big ponds. Editor: How did they tell how fast you were going? Anna: By distance measurement. I believe it was around ten miles an hour or something. Editor: So Almanzo's horse came breaking through town? Anna: Yes.
She thought I would come up there more often. If we hadn't been friends. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to meet these people. She asked me to be one of the directors on a library she had established. we would never have known Dorothy Thompson and her husband Sinclair Lewis. They're very enjoyable books. I was in Brattlesbury. Wilder died? . in the summertime. and she was home. She had written books on life as a student nurse. Vermont. They had an old garage and it had a flat roof. Those were Hoover's days. You climbed up there and they served the food there. but I was only there once. Editor: Do you remember much about when Mr. They put a banister around it and it was like a patio house. and I made an attempt to reach Rose. There was Rose and there was Helen Boylston. at the headquarters for the National Ayrshire Breeders Association. or Mrs. I visited her in her home in Connecticut. who was an R. One thing Rose could do well was pickle eggs in beet juice with the shell on.117 Anna: Rose was there when we were in the depression. Editor: Were you out at the Wilder's home much? Anna: Yes.N. They were very delicious and she served them there.
I attended both memorial services. . Mrs. There weren't very many people at the funerals.118 Anna: Yes. Wilder was ill for quite some time.
the original rough draft manuscripts which Laura wrote in pencil are compared to the final published books. too. Because. that Rose’s contributions in style and view were beneficial to the . In a recent biography of Rose. Rose was not a singer. Laura is pictured as a cold. and the extensive improvements are attributed solely to Rose.119 Chapter 9 Did Rose Write Laura's Books? "Out of the treasure of the heart the mouth speaks. while Rose is portrayed as a gifted." It has been stated that "everything that makes the Little House books stand up and sing is what the daughter did to them." This is quite a startling statement. in spite of the fact that many could not get along with her. charming woman. unloving mother. This is verified by letters between the two women. Granted. It seems obvious that there was some degree of editing help with the Little House books by the experienced author Rose Wilder Lane. you see. Rose is given credit for making the Little House books great classics of happiness. Further.
She was devoted to one man for about six decades. she sat by him in his chair. When he finally died. unselfish love.The Little House books have Laura's heart: warm. one fact stands out boldly -. she never "got rid of" Almanzo. her love. On the other hand -From personal remembrances about her. clutching his broken. wrinkled. She was a moral person who relied on the Bible for guidance. the farmer. and from her own writings -Rose was not a Little House person. happy. She was a Little House person. still wanting to keep him within her deep. . from her biography. lifeless ninety-some year old body close to hers. Although she became a famous author with a good income from her books. Her life. Little House Laura We have already seen that Laura determined to be happy in life. to look on the bright side whenever she could. Whatever the degree of collaboration between Laura and Rose in the Little House books. She was a Little House person.120 works. hopeful and moral. her way of thinking stepped right into the Little House stories.
Right was right and wrong was wrong and that was that. she learned to temper it with tact and consideration. a rented house in town. or her own big farm house. In all of these things. principle came first. Even with the making of a movie about her books. Laura was a Little House person. the best place in the world. principle always came first. With Laura. Laura was seen as an outstanding person. lasting things in life. She valued most the simple. and would never let a favor go unrewarded. which would have made her even more famous and given her substantial wealth. so she adamantly refused to let them make the movie. Her small farm in the Ozarks was. Even though from her youth she sometimes had a fiery tongue. Those unpretentious people around her who loved these same things were the people she liked being with. How many people would have turned down wealth and fame for principle? She tried to be thoughtful of others. and to work with the cows and the goats and the apple trees. The movie producers were going to change her story. She loved to hear the hens clucking around her feet when she called them in the morning.121 Laura learned to be content wherever she was: in a log house. . In an area that valued morals and modesty. for Laura. and just to wander the hills in all their beautiful seasons. so that her neighbors could testify that they never heard her say a bad word about anyone.
122 Cosmopolitan Rose Sometime early in her life. Rose said she remembered battling a photographer when she was two years old. wanting her to look at a birdie in the camera. She said he had a "stupid pretense". anyway. or an indication of Paul's parents' concern for him. She didn't get along with the other young people and had few friends. the adult Rose gloated. She continually fought with her teachers. She won. She hotly felt this "injustice" to ten year old Paul. Paul. for most of the 650 mile trip. and bounced in and out of the Mansfield school. Paul's mother drove. However. And he wanted her to pose with her right hand over her left. She said that any young men of courage and ambition would have left the area. Basically she thought people in the Ozarks were far beneath her. sometimes being taught at home by her mother. and their oldest boy. The Cooley family accompanied the Wilders south from Dakota to Missouri. That meant . only about ten years old. Seven year old Rose did not consider this a use of wisdom and caution. when they went through cities. while she kept reversing that. was allowed to drive one of the family's two wagons. In the setting to the book of letters called On the Way Home. Rose battled with the people around Mansfield. a big responsibility for such a little fellow. Rose decided to be a battler.
and she personally blamed her parents for making it so. Almanzo died in 1949. Laura and Almanzo had tried to be gentle with Rose in her upbringing. Rose left the "backward" school of Mansfield. Her moral standards were more in keeping with San Francisco or Paris than the little town in the Ozarks. she battled with her parents. They were poor Ozark farmers. And some people who knew her there do not hold her reputation in high regard. hypocritical dogooders. and accused them of being cold and unloving. and went to Louisiana to . as she often expressed in her journal. which only went to the tenth grade. as Almanzo had always trained horses. she bore them a certain measure of resentment. Mansfield. Rose said that living in Mansfield was like living in hell. either. like most of the families in the area. Actually. In spite of this gentle treatment. As Rose grew older. was held in low esteem by Rose as full of gossipy.123 that all those left in Wright County weren’t worth having. even though they had offered to pay her fare up when she was visiting not so far away in Texas. in her opinion. The little town in the Ozarks. his only child. much like her totally inconsiderate comment about getting out of Neta Seal’s car. had not been back to Rocky Ridge since 1937. Rose called her life growing up at Rocky Ridge a "nightmare". but Rose.
instead of choosing to live in Mansfield. he was not by any stretch the last man of her life. In total contrast to Laura's and Almanzo's opinions about life on a small Ozarks hill farm. Even though she never married again. bold Rose became a telegrapher in the big city of Kansas City. the marriage or the child. She viewed Ozark women as downtrodden. where she became one of the first real estate saleswomen in the country. Little House country girl. This was before the First World War. but her extracurricular behavior apparently was not that of a quiet. evidently she did have lovers. after finishing high school in Louisiana. She graduated in one year. and before the time when women began to work outside the home en masse. So at age seventeen. who died soon after.124 live with Almanzo's sister Eliza. She married there and had a child. However. Rose rejected the moral training she had received at home. Rose denigrated farming as slavery to animals and gambling on the weather. and was a woman who was far ahead of her time. Rose irritated people about whom she was doing . which became her lifelong career. and later became a writer. although some have said that a 1910 census in Wright County might raise some question as to which came first. In a few years she battled with her husband and "got rid of" him. never to remarry. Soon Rose left Kansas City for California.
The continuation of the Little House series covering Rose's life at Rocky Ridge is not really accurate. Rose changed her political beliefs from Communism to the opposite side of the spectrum and became a libertarian. Rose was often morose. She did not want to be. she took to battling governments in her personal way. By her own words she became a Communist sympathizer in her youth. happy Little House type person is truly fiction.125 biographies. but she continued her combative style. Later. When the Roosevelt administration put in the Social Security system. with whom she had become offended. her battles increased in scale. Rose was strongly against government intrusion there. one of Rose's close friends. to keep from paying Social Security taxes on wages. and eventually went to raising and processing some of her own food. remembered that Rose always wanted more. She was not selfish. With time. Where Laura was content with little. And Rose got a lot more than most people ever get. That is. From her writings in her personal journal. to battle against perceived injustices in America. such as Henry Ford and Charlie Chaplin. Rose earned a lot of money for her time. For Rose to be depicted as a warm. She was not Little House. and regularly shared her earnings with her parents . and did battle with them. but she never really got Little House happiness. That’s just not who Rose was.
But -. and she had a compunction to adopt people to care for financially. "Out of the treasure of the heart the mouth speaks. Look at these excerpts from Laura's magazine articles. Rose’s life was the opposite of the Little House life. And that is the biggest problem with Rose being the guiding force behind the Little House books.126 and others whom she would adopt to help." Laura's Happy Heart Rose surely helped her mother with editing and advice.undeniably and absolutely -. _____________ . Rose was simply not a Little House person.the Little House books have the heart of Laura Ingalls Wilder. She had only borne one child. That wasn't she. who died as an infant. possibly to fill the emptiness that was in her because of her chosen way of life. She couldn't do it.
All through the grass were scattered purple and white flag blossoms. Do you remember gathering them down on the flats and in the creek bottoms when you were a barefoot child? There was one marshy corner of the pasture down by the creek where the grass grew lush and green. Several little girls going to school for their first term had picked handfuls of sweet Williams and were gathered . and I have stood in that peaceful grassland corner. taking their good-night mouthfuls of the sweet grass. and the pieces of glass lay scattered where they had fallen. and watched the sun setting behind the hilltops and loved the purple flags and the rippling brook and wondered at the beauty of the world while I wriggled my bare toes down into the soft grass. He never brings me cultivated flowers but always the wild blossoms of field and woodland.127 The Sweet. Simple Things of Life The Man of the Place brought me a bouquet of wildflowers this morning. and I think them much more beautiful. A window had been broken in the schoolhouse at the country crossroads. where the cows loved to feed and could always be found when it was time to drive them up at night. The wild sweet Williams in my bouquet brought a far different picture to my mind. with the red cow and the spotted cow and the roan. It has been a habit of his for years. In my bouquet was a purple flag.
could be stuck to the pieces of glass in whatever fashion they were arranged. The horses had worked hard all week and must rest this one day. and though I have forgotten what it was I tried to learn out of the book that summer. looked at through the glass. The delicate fragrance of their blossoms this morning made me feel like a little girl again.128 near the window. I was only a little girl. They dried on the glass and would stay that way for hours and. and there have been so many changes since then that it would seem such simple . I have forgotten what I was taught on those days also. were very pretty. and Mother would rather stay at home with baby brother. The white daisies with their hearts of gold grew thickly along the path where we walked to Sunday school. flecked with sunshine and shadow and the beautiful golden-hearted daisies scattered all along the way. by wetting their faces. you know. Father and sister and I used to walk the two and a half miles every Sunday morning. I was one of those little girls. Ah well! That was years ago. But I can still plainly see the grass and the trees and the path winding ahead. so with Father and sister Mary I walked to the church through the beauties of the sunny spring Sundays. I never have forgotten the beautiful wreaths and stars and other figures we made on the glass with the sweet Williams. Someone discovered that the blossoms could be pulled from the stem and.
. simple things of life which are the real ones after all.129 things should be forgotten. Laura Ingalls Wilder July 1917 . but at the long last.There are no hothouse blossoms that can compare in beauty and fragrance with my bouquet of wildflowers.. I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet. .
The wild plum thickets along the creek yielded their fruit . and listened to the sleepy twitterings of birds. and the impression they made was deep. Bringing home the cows is the childhood memory that oftenest recurs to me. watched the squirrels hastening to their homes in treetops. I have a favorite way of doing this. and the voices of the wildwood. . I think it is because the mind of a child is peculiarly attuned to the beauties of nature. Wild strawberries grew in grassy nooks in springtime. the trees budding. for I have never lost my childhood delight in going after the cows. thus combining pleasure with work and adding good health for full measure. while I gathered wildflowers.. down along the creek. waded in the creek. forgetful of milking time and stern parents waiting. and “the green grass growing all around.130 The Cows Bringing Laura Home With the birds singing. and over the hill to the farthest corner where the cows are usually found. who would not love the country and prefer farm life to any other? We are glad that so much time can be spent out-of-doors while going about the regular affairs of the day.I loitered along the cow paths. as you can all bear witness..” as we used to sing in school. I still slip away from other things for the sake of the walk through the pastures.
no matter how interesting and important that work may be. And all the time between. never failing delights along the cow paths of the old pasture. Life was not intended to be simply a round of work. we neglect her until we grow out of sympathy.131 about the time of the first frost in the fall. in our busy lives. there were ever varied. while a bird’s song will set the steps to music all day long. they. A moment’s pause to watch the glory of a sunrise or a sunset is soul satisfying. Our ears and eyes grow dull. but I think it is because. instead of me finding the cows. found me and took me home with them. Laura Ingalls Wilder April 1923 . on their journey home unurged. and beauties are lost to us that we should still enjoy. Many a time. The voices of nature do not speak so plainly to us as we grow older.
is like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens all the fabric of civilization... brightens the whole garment.Doing up cut fingers. but they will inculcate a love for home and family that will last through life and help to keep America a land of homes. so women's work at home.And just as a little thread of gold. they will count for as much.132 Women’s Work at Home .. and singing bedtime songs are small things by themselves. running through a fabric. Laura Ingalls Wilder May 1923 . but I doubt very much if. kissing hurt places. or doing other things that have a larger audience.. Putting up the school lunch for the children or cooking a good meal for the family may seem very insignificant tasks as compared with giving a lecture. writing a book. . in the ultimate reckoning. while only the doing of little things.
The colors in the sky at sunset. What glorious colors in the woods these days! Did you ever think that great painters have spent their lives trying to reproduce on canvas what we may see every day? Thousands of dollars are paid for their pictures which are not so beautiful as those nature gives us freely. and all over the low places lay the first frost of the season. the delicate tints of the early spring foliage. the brilliant autumn leaves. What a beautiful world this is! Have you noticed the wonderful coloring of the sky at sunrise? For me there is no time like the early morning when the spirit of light broods over the earth at its awakening.133 King Winter King Winter has sent warning of his coming! There was a delightful freshness in the air the other morning. the softly colored grasses and lovely flowers -.what painter ever equaled their beauties with paint and brush? Laura Ingalls Wilder October 1916 _____________ .
It is important to note that in her novels when Rose tried to paint a picture of misery which would lead up to and finally culminate in a joyful. but she purposely took a totally different tone – bitterness in the face of struggle. love of people. relief giving ending. the bitter taste remained. The reader is left dissatisfied.This is Laura's heart! Long.how did Rose write? Rose's writing never sang. lingering sentences that hate to end. even though she tried to switch to this mood. Rose's Writing Now -. she was not able to do that. Even when she tried to convey a positive ending. At the end. She couldn't put a genuine happy ending on a book. happy. the happiness never came. Her sentences were choppy and bumpy and anything but sweet. happiness -. and many more like them. Her two best selling books. loaded with color. Her happy ending sounded false.134 These are just magazine articles. . It usually spat and hissed. tell the same stories as some of the Little House books. sweetness dripping from every other phrase. is in the Little House books. The same heart that is in these articles. Let the Hurricane Roar and Free Land. but they sing with sweetness! This is Little House stuff! Love of God and His creation.
more so than anything that Rose had ever written. and this realism actually meant unhappiness. then. then. However. In her writing. because that's the way she thought. didn't Rose write just one book in the Little House style -. Of Rose's writings. If it was Rose who made the Little House books stand up and sing. why didn't she make some of her own writing stand up and sing? Just one book? It was obvious that the Little House books were wonderfully loved. We must assume that in her writings. what sings like the Little House books? Nothing. Rose was trying to achieve this bitter realism and she succeeded in doing so.one book that was happy and loving and warm and wonderful? . A writer writes to sell books and be read. we must also assume that was the only way she. Why. could write. She wrote during the period when "realism" was in vogue. there was never just pure out and out Little House happiness. even though sometimes they covered exactly the same stories.135 Whether writing stories about her youth in Mansfield or about life on the prairie. Rose always seemed to be complaining. of herself.
since it was a great hallmark in American literature and since she was the only one who could conceivably continue the story? The last Little House book.136 It would be hard to say that she was afraid of impinging on her mother's territory. When Laura stopped writing. for Little House color! For wonderful warm words. How about the setting to On the Way Home? This is a book of letters that Laura wrote back to the Dakota folks on their trip down to Missouri. why didn't Rose continue the Little House series herself. But if she was afraid of encroaching on the Little House stories. or even after Laura was dead. anyway. because she took some of the very same stories for her books. was reportedly found by Rose after Laura's death. It was not in her. What a perfect place. If Rose had made all the Little House books sing. why didn't she take this unfinished book and turn it into another happy Little House classic? Why not? Because she couldn't. she could have written on some totally different setting and gone down in American literary history herself. and Rose wrote the setting to this rather ordinary collection of letters. the First Four Years. for . Why didn't Rose write the happy Little Apartment books? Or Rose could have written Little House stories about growing up at Rocky Ridge. in the setting for this contrived book.
to liven this "book" up. Unending love for the family. but no time for loitering in flowery fields or clucking with the hens. In Rose's setting. Consideration when talking with a friend. Happiness when looking at a wildflower. And Laura's heart is what made the Little House books sing. bluntly pushing the reader along. Fascination with everything that grows on a farm. It came from inside the heart. As Rose said. . The Little House happiness did not come from wealth or fame. Who is in the Little House? To say that Rose made the Little House books stand up and sing is to take Laura's heart right out of the books. in this setting? But no. And Rose was not Little House. None of it reads nearly as pleasantly as the above articles by Laura. just once. everything to her was simply what it was. the writing is still choppy. Some color. Laura spent part of her youth wandering around from home site to home site.137 poetic lullabies in prose. Surely she would make her writing sing in Little House style. And doing right and being good. just a little sassy.
a place she despised. Ironically. Yet she blamed her parents for not giving her more when she was a child. . Rose did have wealth and fame. she never found what Laura saw at Rocky Ridge: a happy life. as Rose considered hers. fictitious character. Instead. With all her travel and worldly experiences and wealth and fame. while the simple Little House books portraying the type of life she rejected go on through the decades.a solid foundation for approaching life. have been pushed onto the back shelf of history. as happy Little House Rose Wilder. she is depicted living at Mansfield. Yet Laura did not resent her parents for this. The real cantankerous Rose is buried under a sweet. where snow blew in through the wide cracks between the boards. which held a temporary popularity. and she rejected what they did give her -. in pencil. as Rose resented her. a person she never was at all. Even the life Rose actually lived at Rocky Ridge is gone. Laura did not consider this unsettled childhood a nightmare. which were the guiding principles of her life. a tacked up building somewhat worse than a cabin. Sometimes she lived in a shanty. happy experience. Wouldn't she be upset at that? Obviously Laura wrote the original manuscripts. In the continuation of the Little House series in the Ozarks by Roger MacBride. her books.138 not usually considered a healthy. Laura deeply appreciated the good things Charles and Caroline gave her.
The books turned out like Laura. Principle. The books were Laura's life. There are two contrasting pictures that show just how much this is so. Laura's arms were around him. hugging him. But the books retained Laura's direction. But Laura. and as Laura wanted it told. concerning one of her manuscripts. that they would "argue it out" later.139 Obviously Rose the successful author helped with editing Laura's writing. as Laura saw it. One is the picture of Laura that Neta Seal described. It certainly seems that Rose was an editor of the Little House books. the edges of his white hairy mustache didn't . sitting by him in his chair where he had died. cherishing him. His chest didn't rise. holding him. When Almanzo had just died. Laura wouldn't have had it any other way. was the editor-in-chief. Laura mentioned in a letter to Rose. Neta and her husband Silas rushed out to Rocky Ridge and found Laura with Almanzo. his closed eyes didn't twinkle. the principled stickler for the things she believed in. just as with the Long Winter movie. not like Rose. making valuable adjustments in the presentation. loving him with everything that was in her.
-. The farmer boy who worked so patiently with horses. .who rode for hours around the Twin Lakes in Dakota Territory in a buggy courting pretty blue eyed Laura Ingalls. But she wouldn't let go. -.that she still wouldn't let him go. never making a sudden move. taming wild horses and her at the same time. -. weakened.140 wiggle from his breaths. till death did them part. and no words came from his lips. completely still in the parlor at Rocky Ridge. wrapping her arms around his frail shoulders. "She just wouldn't let him go.this wiry. She loved him with a love that had lasted sixty years. wasted old man with the bald head and twisted foot -." Neta said. ever so gently.the farmer boy now sat still. Laura held his worn body tightly. never scaring them. and who shared the chickens and the goats and the sunrise over the misty creek to the east and the sunset over the blue hills to the west. and she loved him so much -. totally.who finally talked pretty Laura into being a farmer's wife and living the farmer’s life.
Laura's disciplined. irreligious. and when Gillette died. was really the one who put the happiness in the Little House. Yes -. And one was not. Quite a contrast.141 The other picture is a snapshot of Rose when her husband Gillette Lane died. Cow Pies Why the desire by some literary people to now attribute the happiness in the Little House books to Rose instead of Laura? Because society today agrees more with Rose's approach than it does with Laura's. they say. Happiness comes from her values.if Laura Ingalls Wilder were alive today.in that modern way of thinking. . upright life came from a woman who was "cold" and unfeeling. had several men after him. "progressive" Rose. they tell us. she would be called a right wing fanatic. Loose. One was Little House. So surely happiness couldn't come from her kind of right wing fanatic life. not those of Laura -. She had "got rid of him" years and years before. Rose marveled that she could scarcely even remember what he looked like. who lived a lot like many people do today.
it is. Rose was a successful. This kind of stuff was known on Rocky Ridge Farm as cow pies. such as the ones about Jack Kennedy or Richard Nixon. happy little farmer lady. Laura was the heart and soul of the Little House books. So Laura. manipulative mother". There is a silver lining in this cloud. When she submitted it to publishers. becomes a "cold. In movies. bitter battler becomes the giver of happiness. You see. Rose was the heart and soul of Let the Hurricane Roar and Free Land and Old Home Town. called Pioneer Girl. beautiful story? Yes. Rose. old fashioned Christianity was rudely excised from the script.142 Over and over we see this trend today. the wonderfully considerate. truth is filtered and rewritten according to modern tastes. The fact is that the Little House books were the way Laura saw life. too. they refused to publish it. Her . But isn't this. In the movie Little Women. Laura wrote a memoir of her life. as it was from the "historically accurate" movie Titanic. nationally known writer. Rose's books were the way Rose saw life. in the end a happy. the divorced.
When they got together. so different in life. Free Land. In the Little House books. true classics of literature. with different life purposes and opposite ways of acting every day – Who often grated on each other – These two carrying the same genes. Caroline. Laura and Rose. with Rose helping her mother. and Old Home Town were popular for a while. which depicted American frontier life so nobly that they were translated for the Germans and Japanese after World War II. to give us something truly greater than either of them could have produced alone. so dissimilar. mother and daughter come together. with Laura’s spirit and Rose’s crafting. But neither Laura nor Rose – alone – produced a work of art like the Little House books. So all’s well that ends well. There their hands are joined through all time. but opposite spirits. . Eight books. art was made. mother and daughter. Two women.143 books Let the Hurricane Roar. were able to combine their efforts.
_____________ Editor: When did you come to Mansfield? Carl: I came from Cedar Gap. They had a cafe. when he sold it. My father drove a taxi. had no family at all nearby. Sr. We moved here in 1922. . My dad started a bus line between Mansfield and West Plains. He ran that bus line until 1942. I was born at Cedar Gap. then to Mountain Grove. _________ After Almanzo's death in 1949. They moved to Mansfield. Later they sold the cafe and moved just out of town. down here about seven miles. then back to Mansfield where they went in business. He would meet the 103 and 104 passenger trains about 1924. I walked from Cedar Gap up here and led our black Jersey cow. The Hartley family befriended Laura at this time. I don't know when my father came there.144 Chapter 10 Carl Hartley. My mother was considered a real good cook. But she did have her good friends around Mansfield to lean on. Laura. in her eighties. he went back to the taxi business. After he sold the bus line. and remained close to her until her death.
Carl: There weren't too many people to know in those days. Editor: Almanzo died in 1949 and Laura died in 1957.145 We lived in Springfield for several years. I believe there were about seven or eight hundred people. Now there are fourteen hundred. My dad died in 1954 when he was 71. I guess they got to know everybody in town pretty well. but I don't know how . Almanzo came in to my garage one day and wanted to buy a battery. When I came here in 1922. Later I sold it and bought a Ford tractor dealership. Carl: I suppose they knew them. Editor: When your mother and father lived in Mansfield all those years. He stood there and talked. So I changed his battery for him and got him going. There was a garage for sale down here and I bought it. She passed away in 1951 when she was 61. just a little fella. then in 1945 we moved back here. Editor: Were your mom and dad good friends with the Wilders or did they just happen to know them through the normal business associations? Carl: I don't know how well Mother knew them. I took a battery out and changed it for him. After I came back in 1945. He wasn't a big man.
and she started calling him to go to town to get groceries and whatever. and Laura had to give something back to them for that pie. She wanted to buy this car for him. she and Almanzo wouldn't accept because they had nothing to give in return. He didn't know whether it was right or not.146 well they knew them. In the last years of his life. She liked to go out and eat. Laura bought him an Olds 98 sedan. and eventually they got to be good friends. He had the only taxi in town. And in later years someone made Almanzo a pie. He came to me and asked me what I thought about letting her buy that car for him. pastel green. Dad got acquainted with her after Almanzo died. and it was a good place to eat. About every Sunday they would go out to Frederick's and eat. Editor: Did your dad drive a taxi commercially up until the time of his death? Carl: Yes. He got to taking her to buy groceries and things like that. When some people in Kansas offered to give them supper. I couldn't think of any reason why she shouldn't if she wanted to. Editor: I know that Laura was the type of person who would not accept somebody's kindness without giving kindness in return. I can see that she appreciated your father's kindness to her and she . That's the way he made his living. They started going down to Cabool to Frederick's Cafe to eat. about a 1952 model. so I told him that.
147 wanted to be kind in return. "How many do you have there?" I said. he would say." He said. Editor: People from those times. "Nine. that fella's made a mistake. were taught values very strongly and they carried . We came up to a country store at a place we called Smackout. if this fellow didn't have it. Carl: My dad was one of the most honest and truthful men I ever knew in my life. my dad said. because when you went in there to buy something. like Laura and your dad. My dad stayed out in the buggy while I went in and bought a quarter's worth of shotgun shells -. "Well.eight shells. and he turned that buggy around and took me back. I was counting these shells in there and when I got to nine." We could have been as far as a quarter of a mile away. He was that honest. I came out with the shells in a paper sack and we started on up the road. my dad and I were riding in a horse and buggy. "I'm just smack out of it. One time. when I was a boy." We had shot up all of our shells and I took some rabbits in and sold them to this fellow.
it seemed like. She was really friendly and talked a lot. and we just ordered what they had. yeah. but it was nice to go that time.148 that with them the rest of their lives. That's the way cafes did back then. She came down and stayed with her pretty well . So every Sunday my wife and she would go down to Frederick's Cafe. like she was lonesome. Frederick's was a nice place. Editor: That was thoughtful. my wife felt that since Laura had bought the car. They gave you a choice of two or three things. I believe Laura suggested that I might want to go with them. and told my wife to ask me if I wanted to go. Editor: Was she very talkative when you went with her? Carl: Oh. Carl: After my dad died. We talked about it and decided that she should do that. Carl: I only went down there with them one time. She loved company. Editor: Did Rose visit Laura a lot during those last years when Laura was alone? Carl: I don't remember. my wife ought to go ahead and take her places in it. I usually had other things to do. good basic food. just like my father and her had done. It seems to me she came down two or three times in Laura's last six months or year of sickness.
Rose would come down and stay and try to take care of her as best she could. my wife was with Rose. and Rose said. Connecticut. too. Rose would be there by herself taking care of Laura." . _____________ “There is nothing in the passing of the years by itself to cause one to become melancholy. When Mrs.149 while Laura was dying. She had left a dog up there and she worried about the dog a lot. They became good friends. My wife said she would like to have the portrait of Rose. then the more of them the better. If they have been good years. They had helped look after Mrs. be glad they are passed and expect the coming ones to be more to your liking. Laura didn't die a fast death. Rose was doing some things and she asked my wife if there was anything at all that was there that she wanted. When her mother died. so my wife would go out and sit with her. Wilder when she was ill before she died and we became friends with Rose." Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ Rose had a home in Danbury. If they have been bad years. She lingered on. "Fine. Wilder died. My wife and Rose became good friends then because they were kind of looking after Laura together. She felt duty bound to be here but she also needed to be home.
did the town put on a big funeral? Carl: No. . My wife mentioned it to me. My wife and I went. It was just a simple funeral. When we took her to Springfield to catch her plane.150 Rose one time wanted my wife and I to go to the Grand Canyon with her for about a thirty day trip. The church was pretty well full. Rose was an old woman when we knew her. "No. This thing that Michael Landon had. It was at the Methodist Church. I think that brought a lot of people in. it wasn't a big funeral. I have business here to take care of. She reviewed books and she was going out there and review some books on sort of a holiday of some kind." I had the garage to run and the ChryslerPlymouth agency and I didn't think I could be away that long. I don't know that she had reached a point of fame at that time. the plane was late and she was worried about getting back to her dog. but I said. Editor: When Laura died. I remember one night we drove Rose to Springfield to catch her plane.
To paraphrase a more or less popular song -. one wonders what has become of the jobs they had. unemployed. or striking as the case may be.I Wonder Who’s Holding Them Now? With men by the thousands out of work and the unemployment situation growing so acute as to cause grave fears of attempted revolution. women by the hundreds are further complicating affairs by adding their numbers to the ranks of labor.151 Chapter 11 Laura’s Thoughts on Home & Family _____________ Laura’s Thoughts on Women’s Work Undone _____________ Flaring headlines in the papers have announced that “women will fight to hold jobs.” meaning the men’s jobs which they took when the men went to war. employed. . What to do about the situation seems to be a very important question. One would think that there must have been a great number of women who were idle before the war. If not.
the old home and its love called to me.152 We heard nothing of numbers of women who could not find work before the war. and it seems strange that while statistics are being prepared and investigations made of every subject under the sun. no one has compiled the records of “The Jobs Women Left or Women’s Work Undone. I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers. or is that work undone? It would be interesting to know. I wanted Mother. and as I looked into its golden heart.” _____________ Laura’s Thoughts on Her Childhood Home _____________ Out in the meadow. and memories of sweet words of counsel came flooding back. and the example set by Father and Mother has been something I have tried to . with her gentle voice and quiet firmness. I picked a wild sunflower. They were all busy apparently and fairly well satisfied. I realize that all my life the teachings of those early days have influenced me. I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes. Who is doing the work they left to fill the places of men who went into the army. such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept. Across the years.
Especially did I wonder when reading recently that there were a great many child suicides in the United States during the last year. and as it does not depend upon externals. and I am sure that there must be something wrong with the home of a child who commits suicide. it may be the possession of the poor as well as of the rich. with failures here and there.153 follow. a heritage from all fathers and mothers to their children. Because of their importance. I sometimes wonder if they are so busy now with other things that they are forgetting the importance of this special work. For when tests of character come in later years. more than lands or money -. The real things of life that are the common possession of us all are of the greatest value -.and our whole store of these wonderful riches may be revealed to us by such a common. but always coming back to it as the compass needle to the star. we must not neglect our homes in the rapid changes of the present day. So much depends upon the homemakers. Not long ago we had never heard of such a thing in our country. Nothing ever can take the place of this early home influence. with rebellion at times.worth far more than the motor cars or radios. strength to the good will not come from the modern improvements or amusements few may have enjoyed but from the quiet moments and the “still small voices” of the old home. beautiful thing as a .
We would have roast goose for Thanksgiving dinner! “Roast goose and dressing seasoned with sage. and we . We were living on the frontier in South Dakota then. and the store was forty miles distant. There’s no more frontier within the boundaries of the United States. Our nearest and only neighbor was twelve miles away. more’s the pity. So we were quite excited. it is a yearly habit of mine to think of it about this time and to smile at it once more. but for fresh meat we depended on Father’s gun and the antelope which fed in herds across the prairie. Father had laid in a supply of provisions for the winter. “No. I am reminded of an occurrence of my childhood.” said sister Mary. and among them were salt meats. when Father hurried into the house for his gun and then away again to try for a shot at a belated flock of wild geese hurrying south. from 1916 _____________ As Thanksgiving day draws near again. not sage! I don’t like sage. _____________ Laura’s Thoughts on the Thanksgiving With No Goose.154 wild sunflower. To tell the truth. but then we were ahead of the railroad in a new unsettled country. one day near Thanksgiving.
” and to this day when I think of it. They wanted to play in different ways.without the goose! I remember saying in a meek voice to sister Mary. all operations were stopped while they argued the question.with or without any seasoning -. sister Mary and I.155 won’t have it in the dressing. This little happening has helped me to be properly thankful even though at times the seasoning of my blessings has not been just as I would have chosen. Then we quarreled. until Father returned -. The other was slow to speak but quick to act. _____________ Laura’s Thoughts on a Spat With Sister Mary _____________ Two little girls had disagreed. Just plain goose roasted would have been plenty good enough. and I declaring there should not be sage in the dressing. “I wish I had let you have the sage. she insisting that there should be sage in the dressing. The elder of the two had a sharp tongue and great facility in using it. and as they had to play together.” I exclaimed. I feel again just as I felt then and realize how thankful I would have been for roast goose and dressing with sage seasoning -. and they both did their best .I could have gotten along without the dressing. as was to be expected. because they were so temperamentally different.
I heard her!” The second little girl could not deny these things. Said the first little girl: “You’ve got a snub nose and your hair is just a common brown color. seeing the effect of her words. as compared with her sister’s lighter coloring and regular features.156 according to their abilities. At last here was a chance to act! “And you have to mind me.” repeated the first little girl. were a tragedy in her little life. so she stood digging her bare toes into the ground. “Besides. I heard Aunt Lottie say so! Ah. . talked on. you’re two years younger than I am. don’t you wish your hair was a beautiful golden like mine. and your nose a fine shape? Cousin Louisa said that about me. no answer could be made to that. it could not be denied. She could think of nothing cutting to reply. hurt. The first girl. but that gave her no right to command. to show her utter contempt for such authority. for she was not given to saying unkind things nor was her tongue nimble enough to say them. and tongue-tied. “I will not!” said the second little girl and then. this little brown girl slapped her elder. and snub nose. Her dark skin. She was older. golden-haired sister. and I know more than you. helpless. brown hair. so you have to mind me and do as I say!” This was too much! Sister was prettier.
It was not the pain of the punishment that hurt so much as the sense of injustice. then both should have been punished. She did not cry but sat glowering at the parent who punished her and thinking in her rebellious little mind that when she was large enough. for the golden-haired sister ran crying and told what had happened. showing her hatred of injustice. the knowledge that she had not been treated fairly by one from whom she had the right to expect fair treatment. and the effect of this one followed this little girl all her life. and on. or if not. if appealed to.157 I hate to write the end of the story. and that there had been a failure to understand where she had thought a mistake impossible. No. except her own part in the quarrel. I should say that I dislike to tell what came next. and in almost every case. She had defended herself in the only way possible for her and felt that she had a perfect right to do so. she was soundly spanked and set in a corner. and the little brown girl was severely punished. Children have a fine sense of justice that sometimes is far truer than that of older persons. She had been beaten and bruised by her sister’s unkind words and had been unable to reply. not the end! No story is ever ended! It goes on. she would return the spanking with interest. To be plain. there are no angry thoughts left to rankle in their . When children are ruled through their sense of justice. will prove the best help in governing them.
beautiful thing. and exact justice is most merciful in the end. infallible justice and mercy are one and the same thing. there would be less need for mercy. The difficulty is that we are so likely to make mistakes.158 minds. but I feel sure when we are able to comprehend the workings of the principle of justice. _____________ The snow was scudding low over the drifts of the white world outside the little claim shanty. but with more justice in the world. What a help all their lives in self-control and selfgovernment this kind of a training would be! We are prone to put so much emphasis on the desirability of mercy that we overlook the beauties of the principle of justice. we cannot trust our judgment and so must be merciful to offset our own shortcomings. _____________ Laura’s thoughts on a cold sleigh ride. It was blowing through the cracks in its walls and forming little piles and miniature drifts on the floor. Then a punishment is not an injury inflicted upon them by someone who is larger and stronger but the inevitable consequence of their own acts. we shall find that instead of being opposed to each other. The quality of mercy is a gracious. and even on the desks . and a child’s mind will understand this much sooner than one would think.
too. A man in a huge fur coat in a sleigh full of robes passed the . but I was only sixteen years old and twelve miles from home during a frontier winter. The walls were made of one thickness of wide boards with cracks between.159 before which several children sat. This was my first school. for she was wondering if she could get home for Christmas Day. “Teacher” was restless. which had served as the summer home of a homesteader on the Dakota prairie. It was almost too cold to hope for Father to come. The children were dressed warmly and had been allowed to gather closely around the stove following the advice of the county superintendent of schools who. though she tried not to show it. There were only a few pupils. I’ll not say how many years ago. tomorrow was Christmas -and then there was a jingle of sleigh bells outside. on a recent visit. though it sides were a glowing red. for it was nearing 4 o’clock and tomorrow was Christmas. and on this particular snowy afternoon. trying to study. had said that the only thing he had to say to them was to keep their feet warm. for this abandoned claim shanty. and a storm was hanging in the northwest which might mean a blizzard at any minute. was being used as a schoolhouse during the winter. and the enormous stove that stood nearly in the center of the one room could scarcely keep out the frost. Still. I walked a mile over the unbroken snow from my boarding place to school every morning and back at night. they were restless.
and on we’d go until once more the horses could not breathe for the ice. When we reached the journey’s end. it was 40 degrees below zero. thaw the ice from them where the breath had frozen over their nostrils. who is seventy-six years old. who later became the “Man of the Place. it is in terms of motor cars and means only a few minutes. Then he would get back into the sleigh.” must stop the team. _____________ A letter from my mother. and I’ll never forget that ride. The bells made a merry jingle. and I was so chilled that I had to be half carried into the house.160 window. . and cold and danger were forgotten. get out in the snow. But I was home for Christmas. and the fur robes were warm. the snow was blowing so thickly that we could not see across the street. I was going home after all! When one thinks of twelve miles now. and by putting his hands over each horse’s nose in turn. and every little while he. _____________ Laura’s thoughts on mother-love. It was different then. but the weather was growing colder. We were facing the strong wind. and the snow was drifting so that the horses must break their way through the drifts.
161 lies on my desk beside a letter from my daughter far away in Europe. In the light of experience and the test of the years. For there is. after all. Reading the message from my mother. there have been many . the problems of today and tomorrow must be met in much the same way as those of yesterday. who will always be a little girl to me no matter how old she grows. could have guided you better? Then be sure you are making the most of your privileges with the children who are looking to you for love and guidance. for the safe haven of her protection and the relief from responsibility which trusting in her judgment always gave me. I am a child again and a longing unutterable fills my heart for Mother’s counsel. But when I turn to the letter written by my daughter. then I understand and appreciate my mother’s position and her feelings toward me. Many of us have the blessed privilege of being at the same time mother and child. no great difference between the generations. During the years since my mother was a girl to the time when my daughter was a woman. What is there in the attitude of your children toward yourself that you wish were different? Search your heart and learn if your ways toward your own mother could be improved. can you see how your mother might have been more to you. able to let the one interpret the other to us until our understanding of both is full and rich.
But the love of mother and child is the same. From the highest to the lowest in the scale of humanity.a boundless. with the responsibility of controlling and guiding on the one side and the obligation of obedience and respect on the other. And they are being trained for their part in the procession of time by the women of today. the safeguard of evolution. a few years before Caroline died in 1924. if necessary. in 1921. each the joy of some mother’s heart. in all countries it is the same -. The most universal sentiment in the world is that of mother-love. and much more freedom in expressing those thoughts. allenveloping love. it is the strongest force in creation.. external changes in the fashions and ways of living. and all through the animal kingdom. Her father had been dead for nearly 20 years. each a hope for the future. each a link connecting one generation with another.” _____________ Laura’s further thoughts on her mother. Think of the number of children in the world. It holds within its sheltering care the fulfillment of the purpose of creation itself. the conserver of life.. In all ages. some change in the thought of the world. Surely. a sacrifice of self for the offspring.162 slight. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. .
but life is not that way. then when we have learned it in the hard school of life. especially our memories of mother. So. mother’s advice does help. for we have discovered that nowhere else in the world is such loving self-sacrifice to be found. Her love and care halo her memory with a brighter radiance. from generation to generation. But dearer even than mother’s teachings are little. We would be saved some sorry blunders and many a heartache if we might begin our knowledge where our parents leave off instead of experimenting for ourselves. different in each case but .163 _____________ The older we grow the more precious become the recollections of childhood’s days. her counsels and instructions appeal to us with greater force than when we received them because our knowledge of the world and our experience of life have proved their worth. personal memories of her. we each must be burned by fire before we will admit the truth that it will burn. The pity of it is that it is by our own experience we have had to gain this knowledge of their value. and often a word of warning spoken years before will recur to us at just the right moment to save us a misstep. Still. And lessons learned at mother’s knee last through life. we know that mother’s words were true.
my babe. So merry and bright and gay. Mother’s blessings on my head.” And I’ll fall asleep so sweetly. mother’s voice: Childhood’s far days were full of joy.164 essentially the same -. But oh! By far the sweetest hour Of all the whole day long Was the slumber hour at twilight And my mother’s voice in song -“Hush. Holy angels guard thy bed. Holy angels guard thy bed. my babe. I am waiting to depart Then my mother’s song at twilight Will make music in my heart.mother’s face. And when to realms of boundless peace. be still and slumber. Joys of life like sunshine fall. Heavenly blessings without number Gently resting on thy head. _____________ .” Though our days are filled with gladness. Still life’s slumber hour at twilight May be sweetest of them all. mother’s touch. “Hush. lie still and slumber. On sunny wings of happiness Swiftly they flew away.
a sadness crept into the birds’ songs. Some of us have received such messages. too. so to children of a larger growth. _____________ .165 Laura’s thoughts when her mother died in 1924. the world seems a lonesome place when mother has passed away and only memories of her are left us -happy memories if we have not given ourselves any cause for regret. _____________ “Mother passed away this morning” was the message that came over the wires. we are at the same time giving them to others. home was lonely when mother was gone. Let us make them carefully of all good things. Memories! We go through life collecting them whether we will or not! Sometimes I wonder if they are our treasures in Heaven or the consuming fires of torment when we carry them with us as we. pass on. Those who have not. rejoicing in the wonderful truth that while we are laying up for ourselves the very sweetest and best of happy memories. What a joy our memories may be or what a sorrow! But glad or sad they are with us forever. one day will. and a darkness overshadowed the spring sunshine. Just as when a child.
and it would burn all night long. rough rocks picked up on the hill that the house is halfway up on. Years ago. At the bottom of the chimney. round. The big. Once it held huge logs of bull nut hickory and blackjack oak.166 Chapter 12 Laura's Lonely Little House Up on the hill. Now people who pass by on the highway look at the side of the house. long rocks were especially picked out just for this wonderful fireplace. But in time the road was moved and became a highway instead of a country lane. just kind of halfway. sits a two story white board house. It is made from brown. The hearth is empty now. and they may never know that it's the side and not the front. . only inside the house. But the chimney has no smoke. but not way up on the hill. before the licking flames simmered down to smolders. the white board house has a chimney that climbs straight up two stories and out the top. The little front porch was left facing a trail with nobody ever on it. a lolly-gagging lane that sidled down the hill on the other side of the creek. is a huge rock fireplace. and it is handsome. though. The rocks are clean and there are no ashes anywhere. It has a small front porch that is not in front any more. On the side that faces the highway. and then along in front of the house on the hill. the porch faced the road.
rippling snow. there is no one kneading bread at the counter in front of the big kitchen window. sometimes green with laughing leaves. They shuffle through room by room. But the kitchen counter is shiny.167 The house has a big window that looks out from the kitchen over the middling hills. In the yard they still look around with hopeful gazes. The hills are the same as they were years ago. This is Laura Ingalls' lonely little house. It is just empty. Now this last little house is not happy. while they listen to someone briefly tell about Laura's up to date kitchen or the big fireplace in the parlor. though. Their ears strain for the strains of a fiddle. done with their tour of the last little house. Many people visit this house all the time. Once. In a few minutes they are back outside. and no one looks out and loves the little gray or green or white hills. and sometimes white with whipping. No dough has been rolled here for many years. They sniff for the smell of Ma's vanity cakes. so that a lady making bread can feast her eyes on the gray or green or white hills. look at this room and that room. Sometimes they are gray with bare trees. No matter what colors they put on. It is not sad. The strangers quietly tilt their heads this way and that. this house was happy and full of jollity. while her hands knead the gritty flour. peek out the windows at the hills they just drove through. like all the other little houses she lived in. They look away to see .
and picked the very spot for this house. and now they rest on a different hill. They lived in it for fifty and sixty years. and waited twenty years before they could get it built. speed the parting guest. But Almanzo does not pop over the hill. Laura Ingalls Wilder _____________ But the visitors now at Laura’s house must soon leave and get on with their trips. and had neighbors over for supper and many times their friends would just drop in for cake and company. This is Laura's home.168 Almanzo coming back from cutting the oak and hickory trees off his apple farm. and make them happy inside. and Laura's lonely little house is not happy. too. Please grant us your request. They are not boisterous and happy. And Laura does not come and sit down in the grass. her chimney. _____________ Just come and visit Rocky Ridge. . She and Almanzo cut the trees off this hill with a two man saw. Laura is not there. They yearn for Laura to come sit with them. her window. as her books did. The place was full of gaiety. It was Laura and Almanzo who made the house happy. The people sitting in the grass are visitors. and tell them happy stories. We'll give you all a jolly time-Welcome the coming.
and there are no hitching posts to be seen anywhere. past where Rose fought with her school teachers and down to the bottom. and .169 Go out through the gates and on to old highway 60. Now it's an old road that only goes to Macomb. The depot is gone. just mostly flatcars full of trailers. runs the railroad that printed the pictures of the Land of the Big Red Apple. heads west from the square. Commercial Street. and up again into Mansfield. a small steel mill is on the left with big ugly buildings and lots of cars and trucks parked around. towering oak trees lean over a gazebo sitting in the plush grass. major highway across the continent that was built right through Rocky Ridge Farm. Once this was a brand new. a street turns right. keeping the horseless carriages going. No passenger trains ever run on this railroad. The main road. And the sidewalks around the square are not wooden boards. Where Hoover's Livery Stable shod horses now sits a gas station and mechanic's shop. on the hill opposite Rocky Ridge. Going west. The same buildings stand around three sides of the square. but this bank was here when Almanzo was getting a loan for his new little farm. and in the little park in the middle. Just before the big curve that let Laura look at Mansfield for the first time. on a little ridge. so it looks new and up to date. Missouri. Behind it all. On the square sits the bank. It has a nice new front and a digital sign that tells the temperature. Then go to the top of that hill. but concrete.
a short distance from the rocky road that they first rode into Mansfield. And they can look far to the west. Laura and Almanzo look out at the gentle little hills on all sides. with roses playfully crawling up its tall sides. In the autumn.170 climbs a little hill. The grass. wide prairie. as it reposes restfully between the sleepy trees. and the house looks splendid set above the still green fescue. Rose Wilder Lane. But out of town. . from whence they came. the gaudy green gooseberry by the porch. Winter comes. out in the country a ways. to the wild. On the hill lies a grassy knoll with tombstones and markers. including those of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo James Wilder. five big leafed green oak trees in a clump where the pony stands. and their only daughter. too. Then in the summer the gray oak walls are surrounded by green: green grass on the ground. Here. The falling leaves trickle down the weathered wood. and the rainy gray fall skies add dark hues to the feathered tones that could never be painted on. sits a two story gray oak house. perched on top of another one of the little hills. The trees are bare and skinny. In the spring the gray house rises up between the blooming plum trees out back and the oak trees leaning over its roof. and the big bull nut hickories that wave their green branches seventy feet in the air. the house is a solemn gray.
who will live and die together. The house belongs there. perched cozily in front of eight tall windows looking out at the twilight pictures in the snow. As it falls.171 even. most settles peacefully on the hillside. the wood stove is toasty at the far end of the great room. the woods that have been cleaned so well by the goats that not a stray bush impinges on the tall trees. but just barely. who never complain. the weathered oak like the bark of the leaning trees. some of the white mush catches carelessly on the limbs. no matter what. The gray boards don't bother the white. They are the lights of the gray house. fluffy hills. in the woods the snow falls softly. The doors are not locked. two with merry brown eyes and chestnut locks. right at the break of the hill. In this gray oak house that Ma and Pa built. But the lights of the windows stand out and glow and shimmer through the trees in the white winter evening. and three daughters. so softly. they fit in so well even the woodpecker thinks its part of the wintry forest and sometimes bangs noisily on the walls. shining under the white fluffy overhang and through the dappling snowflakes. one with bright blue eyes and blond hair. But down in the woods. The day is over at five o'clock. and lights dance through the woods. and a neighbor may walk right on in. if he wants . At the near end. supper is being set out on the big table. has given up its green. You can hear it fall. Behind those warm lights are a Ma and a Pa. snow on the roof matching the snow on the hills.
172 to. and even God pauses for the moment. this little house in the hickory woods once again frolics with jollity. . puffy biscuits and homemade butter and apple butter get passed from one end of the table to the other. dishes clink and girls giggle. The snowy wind hushes a little. And meat and potatoes and big. Outside the swirly snowflakes tickle the persimmon trees. and inside. The air is peaceful and warm as the family scrapes the old pine chairs up around the happy table. Just a moment. Everyone is hushed as Pa clears his throat to offer thanks to God for the bountiful meal. After the blessing.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.