More thoughts about Laura

I guess because I spent so much time reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder for her reading challenge this past month. my mind is still buzzing with various thoughts about her life. I thought I’d share some of them here.

Ma. I identified with Ma a lot this time. Being the chief homemaker, I can’t imagine doing all she did in the conditions she did with such a good attitude. There may have been times alone with Pa that she tried to talk him out of a course of action, but overall the books seem to present her as a sweetly submissive wife and creative mother. Maybe she liked wandering and liked being away from civilization as much as he did, but I get the impression that was primarily his bent. I really respected that she did try to keep things as civilized as possible and taught the girls good manners and didn’t let them go “wild.” And I dearly love that the final touch, one of the things that made each new place “home” was setting her china shepherdess on the mantle.

Garth Williams was not the first Little House illustrator, but his illustrations are the ones probably most of us are familiar with. I loved reading that he traveled to every place that the Ingallses had lived, did extensive research, and even met with Laura — and that she liked his work.

Rose. I read a biography of Rose some years back and was very surprised that she was so different from her mother. I read that she had a much harder time with the family’s early poverty than her mother had had with hers. The Ingallses seemed to be the type of family where the kids would grow up and say “We were poor but we didn’t know it then.” It seemed adventurous. I wondered what made the difference in Rose’s perspective, if it was just her personality or what. I do think she was very sensitive. But she was also an only child: she didn’t have the built-in companionship of a playmate and peer to experience what she was experiencing. Plus, when the Ingallses were homesteading and such, other families were, too. I didn’t read this in the books yet this time around, but do remember when Laura and Mary went to school, they were teased because their dresses were shorter than everyone else’s. I don’t know if Laura was ashamed of that so much or if she was just annoyed, especially at Nellie Oleson. But it seemed to really bother Rose that her clothes were different from her school peers. She did develop spunk in other ways, though. There is speculation about how well she got along with her parents, particularly her mother, but I never saw anything in Laura’s writing so far that indicated any underlying animosity there. She visited Rose in San Francisco partly to see the Intentional Exposition (one of the books I got to read for next time is West From Home, Laura’s letters back to Almanzo about that trip) and she mentions her frequently in her columns. She was particularly pleased that adult Rose, by then a famous writer, said of her mother’s pie that she’d rather be able to make a pie like that than write a poem. Maybe there is more about their relationship in Rose’s writings. Maybe some day I’ll get to those, too.

The TV show. I did enjoy the Little House on the Prairie TV show. I think it was on during my later college and early married years. Though I dislike that it varied so much from the books, it did still contain a lot from them, and it was good wholesome entertainment for the most part. In some ways I enjoyed it more if I kept it separate in my mind from the books. But it did inspire new reading of the books and interest in Laura. From what I have read many of the Laura historical sites contain memorabilia from the show as well as Laura’s life. I got the DVDs of the first season of the show some time back through some special deal and meant to watch an episode or two for the challenge but never did.

Little House crafts. I didn’t do any Little House related crafts during this challenge, but I meant to share on my wrap-up post yesterday that some years ago I did do a sampler specifically inspired by reading the books. I guess young girls in those days did samplers to learn their stitches, and at the time I did this there was an abundance of sampler patterns.

Sampler

Truthfully, now it is not my favorite piece, but it still brings back fond memories of that time. I really liked the Early American style of decorating then and also bought what is supposed to be an antique raisin rack (used to dry grapes til they became raisins) decoupaged with a Burpee seed label (I didn’t decoupage it — I bought it that way).

Raisin rack

I keep them together in our family room.

Sampler and raisin rack

I hope you’ve enjoyed thinking a little more about Laura with me, and I do promise I will move on to other topics soon. 🙂

4 thoughts on “More thoughts about Laura

  1. I loved the books and the TV show as well. I prefer to separate them in my mind, otherwise I catch myself being annoyed at little inconstancies. Overall they are both fabulous. I now want to re-watch/re-read them.

  2. I loved the Little House books as a child, and my children (a girl and a boy) loved them when they were little. I think Laura Ingalls Wilder connected with children because of her simple, yet detailed descriptions of the processes needed to get work done. You could almost smell the kitchen odors. You could almost follow the instructions and yoke small oxen. It was real. My kids loved it, just as I did. Now that I’m older, I find the work ethic, the sheer joy in accomplishing “every-day” tasks, something that is sadly missing in both younger and older people. There’s still satisfaction in making a pie, carving something pretty, and stitching up something with which to adorn a wall. (I love your sampler, by the way. Beautiful!) I’m glad you took the time to remind us of these fine books.

  3. I like it that you are sharing so much! I’m learning! You’ve said a few things about this series and Laura this past month that I never realized before. (This wasn’t my favorite series growing up, quite apparently, but I’m really loving them now and appreciate the opportunity to grow more familiar with them through the information you’ve shared.)

  4. Certainly, reading the books as an adult brings a new perspective. I don’t think I ever considered Ma much when I read the book as a child-I was much more interested in the girls, or even in Pa. But Caroline certainly does seem a brave and resourceful woman, despite her less “daring” nature.

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