Saturday, May 31, 2014

Words of Wisdom from Laura

photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons
"To laugh and forget is one of the saving graces." --Laura Ingalls Wilder

A Collection of Laura's essays...
I rediscovered a gem of a book on my shelf: Little House in the Ozarks, A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, Rediscovered Writings (edited by Stephen W. Hines). From the flyleaf: "Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) began writing, at age 65, a series of eight children's books about her life in the pioneer west--the Little House books--which we all know and love. Yet, twenty years before she even started these books, Wilder wrote articles for regional newspapers and magazines. Little House in the Ozarks is a collection of these articles..."

Rocky Ridge Farm
I'm not sure exactly where I stumbled upon this book, but most probably I bought it on one of two very special trips--either the time we visited Laura's Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri in 2001, or the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in DeSmet, South Dakota, which we toured in 2003. Both memorable events.

A sample of essay titles in the book reveals a wide range of topics that interested Laura, including:

When is a Settler an Old Settler
How to Furnish a Home
We Revel in Water!
The Great Woods Have Been Destroyed
I Don't Know What the World is Coming To
Are Your Children Confident?
Fairies Still Appear to Those with Seeing Eyes
Life is an Adventure
What Became of the Time We Saved?
Daily Tasks Are Not Small Things
What Women Can Add to Politics
The War, the Terrible
Pies and Poetry
Laura and Mary Quarrel at Thanksgiving
The Things that Matter

The one essay, however, that made me chuckle is titled: If Only We Understood, December 1917. An excerpt:

"Mrs Brown was queer. The neighbors all thought so and, what was worse, they said so.

"Mrs Fuller happened in several times, quite early in the morning, and although the work was not done up, Mrs. Brown was sitting leisurely in her room or else she would be writing at her desk. Then Mrs. Powers went through the house one afternoon, and the dishes were stacked back unwashed, the bed still airing, and everything at 'sixes and sevens,' except the room where Mrs. Brown seemed to be idling away her time. Mrs. Powers said Mrs. Brown was 'just plain lazy,' and she didn't care who heard her say it.

"Ida Brown added interesting information when she told her schoolmates, after school, that she must hurry home and do  up the work. It was a shame, the neighbors said, that Mrs. Brown should idle away her time all day and leave the work for Ida to do after school.

"Later it was learned that Mrs. Brown had been writing for the papers to earn money to buy Ida's new winter outfit. Ida had been glad to help by doing the work after school so that her mother might have the day for study and writing, but they had not thought it necessary to explain to the neighbors..."

In this essay, Laura went on to make the point that 'the things that people do would look different to us if we only understood the reasons for their actions," and that we should be understanding. "A genial attitude toward the world and the people in it," she says, "is a better way."

Point well taken, but I can't get past the fact that almost 100 years ago writers were a curiosity to some. What, your house isn't orderly? What, you just sit idly and appear to be doing nothing?

Is there anything new under the sun??

Just thought I'd share a different side of Laura. She was one very interesting lady with a lot to say!


  1. I enjoyed this post. I loved the Little House books when I was growing up. (I was surprised to learn later that her daughter was very involved in the writing of those books.) The Laura you mention here sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing.

  2. Elizabeth, I've found after skimming through this book again that Laura's wisdom reminds me a lot of my grandmother :-) Thanks for stopping in. Glad you enjoyed a peek at another side of a beloved writer...

  3. Oh, poor Mrs. Brown being the target of gossip :)

  4. Not much changes, does it, Jess? Ha!

  5. Embarrassed to say I didn't know this was out there. Sounds like one I need to look for!

  6. I think you'd enjoy this one, Barbara. Hope you can get your hands on a copy :-)

  7. My favorite line from your excerpt is "they had not thought it necessary to explain to the neighbors." If it happened today, the poor woman would likely find herself vilified on Face Book!

  8. Great response, Peggy :-) Enjoyed the quip about Facebook!