Laura Ingalls Wilder passed away 50 years ago last year. It’s been even longer since the phrase “The end of the Little House series” first appeared on the last page of the last book she wrote. But her community of fans has never been more robust. They span generations. Even today, in the empty era of Britney and Paris, Laura Ingalls is still a heroine. Children who discover her through TV reruns or sliced-and-diced picture books still find their way to her timeless book series. The world of Little House is just that: timeless.
These fans mirror each other. They know that the feathers on Laura’s
poke bonnet cream-colored hat were ostrich. [Whoops! And these fans make mistakes, apparently. The correction and reminder are much appreciated.] They know what Ma’s favorite hymn was. They imagine the taste of oyster soup on New Year’s Day and of sizzling ham and apples’n’onions in a nineteenth-century kitchen in New York State.
They go where Laura went. They collect pebbles at Lake Pepin, as five-year-old Laura did. They visit Almanzo’s boyhood home in New York and search immediately for the black splotch on the parlor wall. They wade in Plum Creek in Minnesota and watch the sunset in South Dakota. They imagine what it was like to be Laura, if only for a moment.
Most of all, they know Laura. Thanks to independent research and the almighty Google, these fans probably know more of the truth than the Little House series revealed. But they also know that the magic of Little House is so much more than that. After all the reading, all the travels, all the commisseration with fellow fans, they continue to come back to the simple, comforting fact that Laura Ingalls wasn’t just a book or TV character. She was real.
This blog is for them.