What up, it's dramas from the Life as a Gringo podcast.
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Ready, set, Roto. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show, including your stories. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. The Little House series of books have captured the hearts and imagination of children and young adults worldwide. Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, these classics have sold over 60 million copies in more than 100 countries. Here to tell the story are Dr. Deidre Burzer and Pamela Smith Hill. Dr. Burzer is a lecturer in history at Hillsdale College and is editor-in-chief of the South Dakota Historical Society Press, publisher of Pioneer Girl. Laura's memoir that her Little House book series would be based upon. Pamela Smith Hill is the editor of that memoir.
Here's Deidre Burzer with the story. Once upon a time, 60 years ago, a little girl lived in the big woods of Wisconsin in a little gray house made of logs. So far as the little girl could see, there was only the one little house where she lived with her father and mother, her sister Mary and baby sister Carrie.
A wagon track ran before the house, turning and twisting out of sight in the woods where the wild animals lived. But the little girl did not know where it went, nor what might be at the end of it. The little girl was named Laura, and she called her father Pa and her mother Ma. This little girl was Laura Ingalls Wilder.
She was born in 1867 in Wisconsin near Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River. She grew up with the country, traversing the interior west multiple times in a covered wagon and then by train and eventually in her own automobile. With her husband Almanzo Wilder, she was a farmer specializing in poultry on their farm in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri, where they ended up when disaster after disaster drove them out of Dakota Territory in 1894. In addition to being a devoted wife to Almanzo Wilder, she was the mother to Rose Wilder Lane, but she was also a writer.
Laura began writing columns for Missouri's agricultural newspapers in 1911 and continued for more than a decade. Her father's death in 1902 and then her mother's death in 1924 and her sister Mary's death in 1928 each prompted her to go back in her mind and reassess her memories. And especially the death of Mary made her realize that her own time might be limited more than she thought. And so that prompted her to start writing and she wanted to capture her father's wonderful stories and her own rather incredible childhood. She started to realize in the late 1920s that she had seen it all.
Frontiersmen, Indians, cowboys, pioneers, homesteaders, railroad builders, the settlement of the west. Her life had encompassed the settlement of the west and she wanted to tell that story. So in 1930 she purchased a big pile of big chief tablets that were lined and she sharpened her pencils and she started writing. And she titled this manuscript Pioneer Girl. She intended it for an adult audience and she also intended it as kind of a family memoir for her daughter Rose. So there are sections in there where it says, not for publication, just for you, just for you Rose.
And we still have all of these notebooks today and they have been studied very closely. So this was the beginning, the genesis of what became the Little House Books. By then, by 1930, Laura Ingalls Wilder published several articles in national magazines, such as Country Gentlemen and Saturday Evening Post. Rose had a literary agent in New York. Rose was a very well known writer and she was widely published. She had lots of fiction to her name. But as the depression worsened, many magazines that had previously been paying Rose quite well for her fiction were no longer buying anything. They were turning to the manuscripts that they had collecting in their safes and printing those because those had already been paid for.
And so they did not find a home for Pioneer Girl. But Rose kept trying and so she decided to pull out some of the stories from her mother's manuscript and package those as a story for children. And she did that.
And she called it When Grandma Was a Little Girl. That found a little bit of success and found a publisher willing to go for it if Laura was willing to take aspects of that story and fill it in. So Harper Brothers wanted these stories, but they wanted a lot around them.
They wanted to know how did pioneers do things? And Laura agreed that she would write that. And the result of that is Big House, I'm sorry, Little House in the Big Woods. Little House in the Big Woods. And that was published in 1932. Laura and her daughter Rose, who was quite a strong editor and did work her editing magic on her mother's manuscripts, probably never thought when they started on this endeavor with Little House in the Big Woods, that this would end up being a full series of eight novels.
But it was. Laura almost immediately upon publication of Little House in the Big Woods started getting fan mail. And they wanted to know what happened to Laura and Mary. In the meantime, while the publication process was happening, Laura turned her attention to writing a book kind of similar to Little House in the Big Woods about her husband Almanzo's childhood, and that was called Farmer Boy. So what we see with these books is Laura Ingalls Wilder's literary genius.
They shine through. She gave us unforgettable characters. Sometimes she changes names, but often she uses the same names. However, the entire storyline is not autobiographical. It's based in what really happened in Laura's life, but there are some embellishments and of course, dialogue and all kinds of things that are necessary in a novel to keep the action moving. And you're listening to Deidre Burzer tell the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder and how she came to be one of the most prolific writers and seller of books and stories.
Well, in the 20th century, when we come back more of this remarkable story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history from war to innovation, culture and faith are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.
Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. So you're in the garage working on your car and you need the valves you bought last week. You look in the cabinets and on the shelves, but the parts are never in the right place. eBay Motors has the car parts you need over 122 million of them all in one place and all at the right prices. Find parts for everything from your classic coupe to your brand new truck at ebaymotors.com.
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Download the Roto app or check out Roto.com now. And we continue with our American stories and Laura Ingalls Wilder's story. When we last left off, Laura had written an unsuccessful memoir titled Pioneer Girl. Harper Brothers saw the potential in Laura's storytelling and asked her to fill in the gaps and expand on what she'd already written.
The result was the first in her series of eight Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods, published in 1932. She followed that up with Farmer Boy, a story about her husband's pioneering life when he was a young boy. Let's return to Deidre, lecturer in history at Hillsdale College. We'll also be hearing from Pamela Smith-Hill, editor of Pioneer Girl.
Here's Deidre. In each book, the reader gets to see the world through the eyes of Laura at that age. This is part of Wilder's writing genius. These books were so enormous and still are from the very beginning, international bestsellers printed in numerous languages, anthologized in books used in literature classes almost right away. Very few school children since the mid-1930s would not have encountered Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her perspective gives all of us a sense of the pioneer story of the last half of the 19th century. Those unforgettable characters and plots have been central cultural references for Americans for almost 90 years.
Her books were even translated into Japanese right after World War II as part of the American occupation of Japan, so that Japanese readers could catch a glimpse of the American character that emerged from the frontier experience. So we start in the big woods of Wisconsin with Laura as a little girl, and we see the world from her point of view. This first book is a seasonal one.
It starts with the fall harvest and it goes through summer. And one of the highlights of the book is the way that Pa emerges as a storyteller. And Pa has wonderful stories. And remember, this is why Laura wanted to write, at least one of the reasons, because she wanted to capture those stories and save them for future generations. So through Little House in the Big Woods, we as readers get to see many ordinary events in the lives of pioneers, but Wilder presents these in this wondrous fashion. We take on the eyes of a little girl, Laura, who sees everything with wonder and amazement and joy. Laura Ingalls Wilder next turns to what will be Little House on the Prairie. She calls it her Indian book.
It was published in 1935, and this is the book that causes the most controversy today. So we get to see in Little House on the Prairie how Pa builds a cabin. Here, for example, is a single sentence from Pioneer Girl. Pa built a house of logs from the trees in the nearby creek bottom, and when we moved into it, there was a hole in the wall where the window was to be, and a quilt hung over the doorway to keep the weather out. In Little House on the Prairie, Wilder's third novel in the Little House series, she devoted an entire chapter to the construction of that house Pa built of logs, and yet another chapter to moving into that house, plus a chapter on toothed outdoors and chapters on the construction of the fireplace and building the roof and floor for this house.
From one sentence in Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote five chapters, five chapters from one sentence about that Little House on the Prairie in her third novel. So the book highlights as its central conflict the Ingalls' relationship with their Osage Indian neighbors, and this is why Wilder called this her Indian book. The Osage understood that the Ingalls were basically renting from them, although this was not an official formal arrangement, and so they came to get food and tobacco.
It's kind of their rent. It is the payment that the Ingalls needed to make to the Osage for squatting on their land, and so Wilder is able to write into this narrative the entire spectrum of white settler responses to Indians. Pa, as fits his character, wants to get to know them. He wants to befriend them.
He wants to learn about their culture. Often, though, they come to visit when Pa is out hunting, and so Ma cooks for them. They are able to communicate with her about what they want. They want her to cook for them.
They take food. She has to figure out a place to hide the seeds and the plow for the spring so that those don't become part of the rent, but that's a very high anxiety for Ma when she's home alone with the girls and Pa's not there and the Indians come. The Ingalls' family go from Kansas to Minnesota, and this novel is called On the Banks of Plum Creek.
This novel, I think if you've read it before, it's always very difficult to reread because if you know what's going to happen, you have this sense of foreboding dread almost all the way through. In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura is nearly drowned when she tries to cross the flooded creek. Let's take a look at the scene. Initially, the creek seems to laugh and call to Laura, beckoning her to come and play. So she claps her hands on the plank and rolls onto it. In that very instant, she knew the creek was not playing.
It was strong and terrible. It seized her whole body and pulled it under the plank. Only her head was out and one arm desperately across the narrow plank. The water was pulling her and it was pushing too. It was trying to drag her head under the plank. Her chin held onto the edge and her arm clutched while the water pulled hard at the rest of her.
It was not laughing now. No one knew where she was. No one could hear her if she screamed for help. The water roared loud and tugged at her stronger and stronger. Laura kicked but the water was stronger than her legs. She got both arms across the plank and pulled, but the water pulled harder. It pulled the back of her head down and it jerked as if it would jerk her in two. It was cold.
The coldness soaked into her. This was not like wolves or cattle. The creek was not alive.
It was only strong and terrible and never stopping. It would pull her down and whirl her away, rolling and tossing her like a willow branch. It would not care.
Notice the line here. It would not care. The natural world is ambivalent.
It doesn't care about Laura or any human endeavor. Nature isn't simply warm and sunny and beautiful in Wilder's books. It can be dangerous, cruel and even deadly. How does the scene end? Laura escapes and Ma hopes the incident will teach Laura a lesson. She says, well Laura, you have been very naughty and I think you knew it all the time, but I can't punish you.
I can't even scold you. You came near being drowned. Now, if the scene had ended here with the expected moral lesson, obey your parents, it would have been more conventional, but this isn't where the scene ends. Laura did not say anything. The creek would go down. It would be a gentle, pleasant place to play in again, but nobody could make it do that.
Nobody could make it do anything. Laura knew now that there were things stronger than anybody, but the creek had not got her. It had not made her scream, and it could not make her cry. Laura is a very tough and unyielding little girl. She has grit in a world that is sometimes dark and ambivalent. And that storytelling you were just hearing from Pamela Smith-Hill from the book itself is remarkable.
When we come back, the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder here on Our American Stories. So you're in the garage working on your car and you need the valves you bought last week. You look in the cabinets and on the shelves, but the parts are never in the right place. eBay Motors has the car parts you need, over 122 million of them all in one place and all at the right prices. Find parts for everything from your classic coupe to your brand-new truck at ebaymotors.com.
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Learn more about their clean standards and shop clean at Sephora Beauty at sephora.com. Ready to play some tennis? Let's do it. Are you going to put your phone away? No. Roto makes it so easy to buy a car, I can do both at once. It's really that easy?
Yeah. With the Roto app, I can shop thousands of cars from local dealers, buy the one I want right from my phone, and have it delivered to my house for free. I'm going to try it.
Not a good idea, Jim. Downloading the app now. And I dropped my phone. Download the Roto app or check out Roto.com when you're not playing a sport.
The easiest way to buy or sell a car right from your phone. And we continue with our American Stories and with Laura Ingalls Wilder Story. And it's being told by Dr. Deidre Burzer.
Dr. Burzer is a lecturer in history at Hillsdale College and is editor in chief of the New York Times. Dr. Deidre, thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you so much for having us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. Being told by Dr. Deidre Burzer. Dr. Burzer is a lecturer in history at Hillsdale College and is editor in chief of the South Dakota Historical Society Press, publisher of Pioneer Girl. Laura's memoir that her Little House book series would be based upon. And also Pamela Smith Hill, editor of Pioneer Girl.
Here's Deidre. The Ingalls pin all of their hopes on a glorious wheat crop. And just before harvest, I mean, just before, like a day before, the entire crop is wiped out by a grasshopper plague. And this is the central conflict of the book and of the Ingalls years in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. This grasshopper plague really happened.
It's a real thing. The grasshoppers are really the Rocky Mountain locusts. Laura writes about them as the grasshoppers though. And starting in 1873, they are brought on by a severe drought. So in a summer with no rain across the Great Plains, the prolonged heat and aridity accelerated the locust growth and also concentrated sugars in plants. Because of the drought, there was not much wild vegetation and so the locusts focused on eating crops and they ate everything in sight. They also laid a lot of eggs.
So in 1875, the eggs hatched and there were billions of mature locusts. Let's take a look at the following passage from Pioneer Girl, which appears later in the narrative, when the first wave of grasshoppers sweeps through the Ingalls family's farm on Plum Creek. The weather was just right and the crops grew and grew. At dinner one day, Paul was telling us that the weed in our field was so tall it would just stand under his arms with long beautiful heads and filling nicely.
He said the grain was all soft and milky yet but was so well grown he felt sure we would have a wonderful crop. Just then we heard someone call and Mrs. Nelson was in the doorway. She was all out of breath and running, wringing her hands and almost crying, the grasshoppers are coming, the grasshoppers are coming, she shrieked, come and look. We all ran to the door and looked around.
Now and then a grasshopper dropped on the ground but we couldn't see anything to be excited about. Look at the sun, yes look at the sun, cried Mrs. Nelson pointing to the sky. We raised our faces and looked into the sun. It had been shining brightly but now there was a light colored fleecy cloud over its face so it did not hurt our eyes. And then we saw that the cloud was grasshoppers, their wings a shiny white making a scream between us and the sun. They were dropping to the ground like hail in a hailstorm, faster and faster.
So these are the real numbers. It was 110 miles wide and 1,800 miles long. A fourth to a half mile in depth. So this is 3.5 trillion insects. The swarm covered the size of all of these states combined.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont combined. That's the size of this swarm of locusts. The Ingalls dreams died that day. The next novel is On the Shores of Silver Lake and it does start in Walnut Grove and it does start with tragedy. Laura is 71 when she publishes this book in 1939 and she starts with a matter of fact tone but that tragedy. Mary has gone blind. An illness has taken away her sight. Wilder as the novelist calls this scarlet fever.
It probably wasn't but that was sort of the easy disease to think that everything was in that time. Mary though loses her sight. Jack the dog dies of old age and Laura knows that she has to grow up. Pa tells Laura that she must be Mary's eyes and that she must draw pictures with her words for Mary and this is really essential. This is a real thing that happens in Laura's life and it's essential to her development as a writer because of that work on being descriptive. Also, Mary had always planned to be a schoolteacher. Caroline had been a schoolteacher before she married Pa and Mary was going to pick that up. Now, Mary cannot. Be a schoolteacher and Laura must pick that up. Laura is not so sure that that's something she wants to do.
In fact, she's pretty sure it's not something she wants to do but she is determined to be a teacher if it can help send Mary to a college for the blind. Often the books end with music and this comes from Pa because not only is he a storyteller, he's a musician and his ability to play the fiddle and lead his family in singing is central to the Ingalls experience. And in fact, Pa's fiddle is in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Museum in Mansfield, Missouri and I think many, many people weep when they see it because it means so much to them from the books. Little Town on the Prairie was published in 1941. Originally, when Laura Ingalls Wilder planned out how the series would end, the last two books were going to be one book and then she ended up splitting them into two. So Little Town on the Prairie is the next to last book and the last one is These Happy Golden Years. In fact, the last thing is an illustration of Laura's teaching certificate.
And so then These Happy Golden Years, which is published in 1943, starts off with the story of that teaching. And this is something that that Laura in real life did. And this is not the best situation in this teaching job. But again, Laura wants to make money to help keep Mary in school at the College for the Blind in Iowa. And she was offered $40 for an eight week term of school. And she goes to this area. So in the book, it's called Brewster.
The real place was called Bouchie. And she boards with the school board head who hired her, Mr. Brewster. And his wife is very mentally unstable. She does not want to be there out on the Dakota Prairie. She wants to go back east.
She's hostile about everything. In this scene, Laura is teaching school for the first time and boarding with Mr. and Mrs. Brewster in an isolated claim shanty 12 miles from home. Laura is just 15. Laura sat straight up. Moonlight was streaming over her bed from the window. Mrs. Brewster screamed again a wild sound without words that made Laura's scalp crinkle.
Take the knife back to the kitchen, Mr. Brewster said. Laura peeped through the crack between the curtains. The moonlight shone through the calico and thinned the darkness so that Laura saw Mrs. Brewster standing there. Her long white flannel nightgown trailed on the floor and her black hair was loose over her shoulders. In her upraised hand, she held the butcher knife. And you were listening to Pamela Smith Hill, who by the way is editor of Pioneer Girl, reading from Laura Ingalls Wilder.
And we love it when we can do this. Bring great literature alive. And my goodness, what happened and what happens to farmers still to this day, it's just shocking.
But the story of these grasshoppers, again, little cute, sweet grasshoppers, until they amass in swarms 3.5 trillion large, 110 miles wide, 1800 miles long. And there it goes, not only this one family's dream, but thousands of families just ripped apart. And this is the allure of these children's books, not talking down to kids, not piping in fantasies and dreams, but real life, kids are ready for it.
They love it. When we come back, more of the remarkable life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder here on Our American Stories. So you're in the garage working on your car, and you need the valves you bought last week. You look in the cabinets and on the shelves. But the parts are never in the right place. eBay Motors has the car parts you need, over 122 million of them, all in one place, and all at the right prices. Find parts for everything from your classic coupe to your brand new truck at ebaymotors.com.
Let's ride. With ever longer ingredient lists on beauty products, it's hard to tell what you're really buying. That's why Sephora is committed to cutting through the clutter and confusion, helping to push the industry forward by showing what's really in their products. At Sephora, their clean standards mean products formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oils, and more. So when you see the Clean at Sephora seal, you know you're getting a clean you can count on.
Learn more about their clean standards and shop clean at Sephora beauty at sephora.com. Ready to play some tennis? Let's do it. Are you going to put your phone away? No. Roto makes it so easy to buy a car. I can do both at once. It's really that easy?
Yeah. With the Roto app, I can shop thousands of cars from local dealers, buy the one I want right from my phone, and have it delivered to my house for free. I'm going to try it.
Not a good idea, Jim. Downloading the app now. And I dropped my phone. Download the Roto app or check out Roto.com when you're not playing a sport.
The easiest way to buy or sell a car right from your phone. And we continue with our American stories and the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Let's pick up where we left off with Pamela Smith Hill, who just read an excerpt from These Happy Golden Years, Wilder's eighth book in her Little House series published in 1943. The novel was a Newbery Honor Book in 1944, as were the previous four Little House books. In this excerpt titled A Knife in the Dark, we learned what Laura, now a teacher, witnessed one night while boarding at the schoolmaster, Mr. Brewster's, home. Here again are Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars Pamela Smith Hill and Dr. Deidre Burza. Ultimately, Mr. Brewster convinces his wife to put the knife away, but Laura spends a sleepless night on the slippery couch behind the curtains just a few feet away from the Brewsters.
And in the end, Laura reaches this conclusion. She knew that she must not be afraid. Pa had always said she must never be afraid.
Very likely nothing would happen. She was not exactly afraid of Mrs. Brewster, for she knew that she was quick and strong as a little French horse. That is, when she was awake.
But she had never wanted so much to go home. Laura finishes the term, and she tells her family nothing about that butcher knife. Now, the scene may seem very tame by today's standards in young adult literature, but in the early 1940s, Wilder's depiction of Mrs. Brewster and the butcher knife was both daring and edgy. After she submitted the manuscript to her publisher, her literary agent wrote, Ms. Nordstrom is suggesting that Mrs. Brewster's butcher knife incident be cut out. Ursula Nordstrom was Wilder's editor at Harper and Brothers, her publisher. Ursula Nordstrom went on to become a well-known literary figure in her own right. She edited the work of E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web, and Maurice Sendak, who gave the world Where the Wild Things Are. Still, I think it's really important to note that children's and young adult literature in the 1930s and 1940s, when Wilder wrote the Little House books, was much more conservative and restrictive than it is today. Such topics as divorce, sexuality, alcoholism, child abuse, these issues became accepted topics in children's books much later through the groundbreaking work of S.E.
Hinton, Judy Blume, and Francesca Leah Block in the 1960s, 70s, and 1980s. Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, edited her mother's manuscripts, including the final drafts of Pioneer Girl, and she initially discouraged Wilder from including Mary's blindness in the Little House novels. Wilder, however, maintained that a type of tragedy makes the story truer to life, and showing the way we took it illustrates the spirit of the times and the frontier. In fact, as the fictional Laura Ingalls aged in the series, Wilder fought to keep more mature scenes and episodes in the book over her daughter's objections. Lane apparently believed that teenaged main characters were more likely to be in the books than the young readers in the 1930s and early 1940s. She even suggested that Wilder switch main characters from Laura to Carrie to avoid more adult themes and ideas in the final Little House books.
Wilder disagreed. I don't see how we can spare what you call adult stuff, for that makes the story. It was there, and Laura knew and understood it. We can't spoil it. We can't spoil the story by making it childish. Clearly, by literary standards of the 1930s and 1940s, Wilder didn't whitewash her fiction for young readers. She didn't sanitize her story for them. By writing tough, sometimes dark scenes that dealt with dysfunctional families, disease, and mythic struggles on the frontier, she was blazing a new trail in children's and young adult fiction in the 1930s and 1940s.
When Laura comes back for good, after this teaching term, she thinks everyone has forgotten her. Right there is all these slaying parties, and she can see that because she's in town, the family house in town, and she can see them going up and down the road, main street in front of her house, having great time. And before she knows it, Almanzo comes by and offers to take her slaying, and she says yes.
And this launches them into more of a courting kind of relationship. And Nellie, of course, shows up, as she always does, and tries to get in the middle of those drives. Sunday afternoon, as she watched the buggy coming across Big Slough, she saw to her surprise that someone was with Almanzo.
She wondered who it could be, and if perhaps he did not intend to go for a drive that day. When the horses stopped at the door, she saw that Nellie Olsen was with him. Without waiting for him to speak, Nellie cried, come on, Laura, come with us for a buggy ride.
As they drove away, Nellie began to talk. She admired the buggy. She exclaimed over the colts. She praised Almanzo's driving. She gushed about Laura's clothes. Oh, she said, Laura, your poke bonnet is just utterly too-too. She never stopped for an answer. She did so want to see Lakes Henry and Thompson.
She'd heard so much about them. She thought the weather was just utterly too-too, and the country was nice, of course, not anything like New York state, but that couldn't really be expected out west, could it? Why are you so quiet, Laura? She asked without stopping and went on with a giggle. My tongue wasn't made to lie still. My tongue's made to go flippity-flop. Laura's head ached. Her ears rang with a continuous babble, and she was furious. Almanzo seemed to be enjoying the drive.
At least he looked as though he were being amused. They drove to Lakes Henry and Thompson. They drove along the narrow tongue of land between them. Nellie thought the lakes were just utterly too-too. She liked lakes. She liked water. She liked trees and vines, and she just adored driving on Sunday afternoons.
She thought it was just utterly too-too. The sun was rather low as they came back, and since Laura's house was the nearest, they stopped there first. I'll be along next Sunday, Almanzo said, as he helped Laura out of the buggy. And before Laura could speak, Nellie chimed in, oh, yes, we will come by for you. She said, Laura, I'll be with you.
I'll be with you. Oh, yes, we will come by for you. Didn't you have a good time?
Wasn't it fun? Till Sunday, then. Don't forget, we'll be by. Goodbye, Laura. Goodbye. So Laura was not going to have anything more to do with this, and she did give an ultimatum to Almanzo. She would go for a drive with him, but she would not go with Nellie.
So basically, he had to choose, and that was not a choice at all. And so at the end of these happy golden years, Laura Ingalls Wilder brings everything to closure. She gives updates on what all the characters from earlier books are doing, and she gives a commentary on the little houses. So the Ingalls homestead shanty, as it started out, is now a finished off four-room house, and Almanzo has been building, since they got engaged, a house for himself and Laura on his tree claim. But the book ends with Laura settling in, in her own little gray home in the west, marveling at Almanzo's thoughtful touches, as he's built this place for her, and marveling that this is the place that is all their own, and she declares, it is a beautiful world. And that really is a sentiment that is invoked throughout all of the books, that it is a beautiful world, and that Laura Ingalls Wilder, as a writer, is able to impart that sentiment to her readers for almost 90 years now. These Happy Golden Years was a huge success that won multiple awards, it had great reviews, and it allowed Laura Ingalls Wilder to relive those days and to put closure on them. Carrie was the only one of the Ingalls still alive in 1943, Grace had died, and Carrie had very high praise for the book. Laura Ingalls Wilder's significance is amazing and huge today. And not only did it spin off a widely popular television show, Little House on the Prairie, which aired in the 1970s and 80s, featuring Michael Landon, who wrote many of the scripts, and a lot of the storylines veer very far from the novels, but they are still in the same spirit and impart the same values.
The novels continue to be widely read, and widely available and ubiquitous in American culture. And that is all a testament to the strength of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a storyteller, but also just in realizing the kinds of things that her life entailed, and that it's an important chapter in the growth of the country that she is able to tell for all of us. And great job as always by Greg and a special thanks to Dr. Deidre Burzer, who lectures in history at Hillsdale College. Also a special thanks to Pamela Smith Hill, who is the editor of Pioneer Girl. And my goodness, what storytelling and what great reasons to tell a story. Laura Ingalls Wilder in the end wanted to memorialize her life, her rural life, her frontier life. And in so many ways, that's what we do in our American stories. We memorialize the lives of Americans.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, her story here on our American stories. And I dropped my phone. Download the Roto app or check out Roto.com when you're not playing a sport.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-19 12:57:57 / 2023-02-19 13:14:09 / 16