Jack Was Not a Pit Bull

September 4, 2008

Thanks, B and Sarah Sue, for clearing that up. Now I’m feeling icky for even putting this out into the Google world. So in the spirit of equal play:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dog, Jack, was not a pit bull.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dog, Jack, was not a pit bull.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dog, Jack, was not a pit bull.

Furthermore, the eternally thorough Nancy Cleaveland had already addressed this very thing back in February of this year.


Jack the Pit Bull?

September 3, 2008

I ran across the following phrase today:

“Laura Ingalls Wilder owned a pit bull.”

My finger was poised over the delete key, ready to send this automatically-generated spammy Google alert to its rightful place in the recycle bin. Then I stopped. I thought about it. Couldn’t “pit bull” = “pit bulldog”? A brindle bulldog! By God, maybe it was a pit bull that went to the Happy Hunting Grounds.

I’m not so up on my dog-opedia, so I don’t know anything about Jack or what exactly a “brindle” bulldog is. I’m sure someone out there does, though. I’ll poke around and let you know what I find, because now I’ve got that curious itch.

Last of This Week, First of the Next

August 25, 2008

As serious Little House fans, we all know that Laura Ingalls Wilder wasn’t particularly beholden to the absolute truth. And for the most part, this doesn’t bother me. I can forgive her plot discrepancies. I can accept her lapses of memory, even her deliberate distortions of fact. I don’t much care that she folded Stella Gilbert and Genny Masters into the amalgam of Nellie Oleson. And fudging Almanzo’s age? No big deal.

One fact that I didn’t think I’d have to give up was the day of the week on which she and Almanzo were married. He stopped for her on Tuesday, unexpectedly, and they planned to get married as soon as possible in order to avoid a big wedding by his family. They got married nine days later, on Thursday.

Or so Laura wrote.

As I came to find out, this was another fact Laura got wrong. In fact, it’s almost embarrassingly easy to dispute.

I was OK with all the other liberties Laura had taken as a writer, inadvertent or not. But finding out that she’d actually gotten married on a Tuesday, not the Thursday she’d written about in These Happy Golden Years?

I gotta admit that one hurt a little bit.

Happy Anniversary, Laura and Almanzo! “And the twenty-fifth of August had come again, and this winter and summer were the one hundred twenty-third year.”

“… and I know how to make them lay.”

July 27, 2008

So I’m thinking about getting some chickens.

What Laura Quotes Do You Like?

July 10, 2008

I’m about to embark on a creative project where I’ll be pulling together the best of what Laura Ingalls Wilder has to say. And by “Laura” I’m speaking broadly — I’m considering the Little House books, the lovely Ruralist columns, her speeches, or even something Rose said about her mother.

I know I’ll enjoy the project and am looking forward to it. To get my wheels turning, I thought I’d turn it out to my blog readers, the foremost Laura fans I know:

What are your favorite Laura quotes, truisms, or platitudes? I know I’ll come up with much more as I dig, but at the moment, mine is Ma’s “Wisdom’s Ways.” (Didn’t someone here recently say they liked that too?)

Lau… Inga… Wil…

May 15, 2008

Today I got Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist in the mail. For those who don’t know, it’s a compendium of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings from the Missouri Ruralist from 1911 to 1924. It was published late last year.

At first I hadn’t intended to buy the book, since I already owned Little House in the Ozarks, given to me as a college graduation gift. I did value it; after I lost it through various moves, I replaced it with an eBayed copy. But I’m not a collecting purist so even when Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist came out, I figured I’d still make do with Ozarks.

But something was wrong. Every time I went to consult Little House in the Ozarks for this column or that (even for this blog), or to track down when Laura wrote about a certain subject, one particular piece of punctuation would gnaw at me. I’d shut the book and remember it dancing through my head. Even when I tried to recall the content of the column I’d read, I’d recall just as clearly that piece of punctuation.

The darn ellipsis.

Although it’s often used incorrectly (even by moi), officially — in books from publishing houses that pay for copy editing, or some of the better periodicals — an ellipsis indicates replacing something that’s missing. Not only was the total number of columns curtailed, the columns that were printed were often incomplete. What each ellipsis was telling me — taunting me with — over and over again, was “this isn’t all of it.” I was missing out. The ellipses were mocking my incomplete reading experience.

Apparently the same thing occurred to or was pointed out to Stephen Hines, because now we have a complete set in Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist.

Or so he says.

And now I own it. I’m going to start reading a column a night, I think, if I can manage it.

I’ll be looking for the ellipses.

Laura’s Bible: Psalm 121

April 27, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder fans who have been to a homesite gift shop have seen for sale a list of Bible verses Laura referenced for specific times in her life. Mine came from the gift shop of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet.

I thought of Laura’s verses today while sitting, fittingly, in church. Though I wasn’t so much sitting as I was following my three-year-old around the pews. No matter, I was still paying attention. And something in the pastor’s words reminded me of Laura’s verses. So when I got home, I dug them out.

There they were, in Laura’s unmistakable, grandmotherly handwriting.

Not being a terribly religious sort, I’ve sort of grown into the idea that spiritual beliefs are a good thing. I like the idea of an order to the world and to my heart. I’m also not much of a Biblical scholar, but the older I get the more I am aware of just how much I don’t understand. More than that, I’m aware of not making the effort to try to understand.

To someone like me, the Bible is intimidating. But I’m plucky. I like challenges. I think I might take a verse she recommends periodically and explore it, to see what spiritual insight I can gain from one of my heroes.

I’ve spent the past few days googling and plugging in dates and emailing, planning some rather extensive travel in the month of June. So let’s start with this one:

“When you travel,” Laura writes, “carry with you 121 Psalm.”

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
Which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved;
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, He that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep
The Lord is thy keeper:
The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The lord shall perserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.

Did Laura pull this out to read on the train to San Francisco? Did she carry it when she returned to De Smet in 1902 to see Pa before he died? What about merely hopping over to Springfield? Driving around Missouri with the Seals?

Most importantly: did she have it with her when she stepped into that airplane?

One can imagine that travel to someone from Laura’s time was no idle matter. Traveling simply to the next state could take days. The fact that she, who treasured her family, hardly ever went back to visit her mother and sisters once she moved to Missouri speaks volumes. Even when she visited her daughter in San Francisco, Rose paid her the money she’d lose simply by being away from the farm. It makes sense that an undercurrent of concern would taint embarking on any trip, no matter how joyful the occasion.

The lord shall perserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.

I kind of like the sound of that.