Goodwill Has Iowa, Malone Connections

Revisiting my connections in parallel to Goodwill.

Sarah's Notebook

I’m always on the look out for things that are connections to Iowa and the Laura homesite towns. I just accidentally came across another such connection.  Edgar James Helms was born in a lumber camp outside of Malone, New York (where Farmer Boy is set). Both his parents worked for the camp, his father was camp superintendent and his mother worked as a cook. In 1865 the family homesteaded near Nashua, Iowa (famous as home to the Little Brown Church in the Vale). Helms grew up worked at a local paper and then came to Mt. Vernon, Iowa (where at that very time the Uthoff family had a farm) to attend Cornell College. After graduating, he married and moved east to attend Boston University Theological School. It was there as he began missionary work that he created Goodwill. I just find it fascinating that this one man lived so many places…

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New Pioneer Girl Book Releasing

Pioneer Girl

Do you have a big project that you’ve always wanted to do, always MEANT to do, but you haven’t yet? Do you ask lots of people about their advice on it and talk about it frequently? Then you know just how Laura Ingalls Wilder felt during the 1920s. She wanted to write and to tell her family’s story which she felt was too good to be lost. She’d written articles before, been paid for them, and they had appeared in print, mostly in regional publications, but she knew she could write and tell her story. So she sat down and wrote down a first draft of a memoir about her life growing up. It was always intended to be published at some point. Little asides to her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, clearly indicated Laura expected other people to read it so she was expecting readers.  Cover of "Pioneer Girl"

Three Copies In A Story

Sadly, one thing Laura really had yet to learn was the process of editing, still it was a version Laura wasn’t finished with that Rose had sent around to see if anybody would publish it. Laura had handwritten the first version and Rose did up two different typed versions of varying lengths, one for each agent she had during the time she was trying to get it published. Nobody wanted to publish it and frankly, I can’t blame them. It screams out for major editing. I’m glad, too, because had it been published as a non-fiction novelette, it’s doubtful it would have been used as a basis to write children’s books.

The Long Road to Publication

There was one more attempt to get it published, rewriting part of it as a book aimed at children called When Grandma Was A Little Girl. It was only after it failed, too, that Laura and Rose started to view Pioneer Girl as an outline of high points that could be worked into a fictional account of Laura‘s life. We know the story, how they parted the publishers for Little House in the Big Woods to pass. But that wasn’t the last to be heard of Pioneer Girl. In the early 1980s, Rose‘s heir, Roger Lea MacBride worked with Bill Anderson to create an edited version of Pioneer Girl. MacBride even announced it in the forward to one of the books he created about Laura. I detail my wait for it.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography

There were a couple of other attempts of publication over the years and they all came to naught. Then in 2007 the South Dakota Historical Society Press rolled out a new series of biographies of people who lived in and had strong ties to South Dakota. First in the series was Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography by Pamela Smith Hill. It was more a long term literary analysis than a true biography. It sold well. (Personally I recommend the section on Rose which shed new possibilities on her for me.) It leans heavily on Pioneer Girl.

Enter South Dakota State Historical Society Press

The South Dakota State Historical Society Press (SDSHSP) is a specialty type, academic publisher. They publish the magazines and journals of the state historical society and historical books having to do with South Dakota. They also have added some fiction with a strong South Dakota element, like The Discontented Gopher by Frank L. Baum.

As I understand it, the idea for publishing Pioneer Girl rose again as Pamela Smith Hill talked with the head of the publishing unit, Nancy Tystad Koupal. Hill‘s previous book had caused her to become very familiar with Pioneer Girl and she suggested since it had never been published yet, that they work with the Little House Trust and publish it. Even better, publish it with annotations. Both parts of the project took a lot of work and time – more than the SDSHSP originally thought. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, that original deadline made a lovely whooshing noise passing by, but they persisted.

Pioneer Gold

In November 17, 2014, Pioneer Girl was published and was immediately a smash. Efforts to promote the book pre-publication caught the attention of news/blog people as the buzz promised secrets of an adult nature that hadn’t been in the “Little House” books and it was suddenly everywhere. Then the SDSHSP underestimated the amount of books they’d sell. After all, hints about dark secrets aside, it was really a scholarly book. They ordered what was a generous order for the books they normally published. Looking at pre-orders they doubled the order, but it still wasn’t enough. Pre-orders directly from the press and the homesites were promptly delivered. Pre-orders through Amazon were NOT. It seemed that you had to pre-order a copy any place you could buy a copy and Amazon orders weren’t fulfilled. Planned Christmas present hopes were dashed. It was February before Amazon gave up and canceled my pre-order. (Yes, that’s what I get for not going through the press or a homesite.) What’s the surest way to make sure people want something? That’s right, tell them that they can’t have it, or better yet that so many other people want it they can’t have it. Sales surged.

Sales CONTINUED to surge. Much to the surprise of everybody Pioneer Girl continued to sell. On February 15, 2015 it hit the number 2 spot on the New York Times Best-Sellers List. And it stayed there. Secondary prices soared as people longed to brag they had a copy. (Note: Never buy something with high secondary sales prices when it’s still in print, you’ll get your copy, don’t worry.)

Eventually everything calmed down, but sales continue. By the podcast I did with Nancy Tystad Koupal March 2017, the SDSHSP had sold more copies of Pioneer Girl than they had all the copies of every other single book they had published since their  founding in 2017 added together. I just checked with Dedra McDonald Birzer who currently heads the press and they are currently it their 15th printing with almost 190,000 copies sold and sales continue. Both the press and the homesite giftshops I’ve talked to report it’s still selling well. Part of the money has been put aside as an endowment that will help the press keep operating far into the future.

Getting Perspectives

Cover of Pioneer Girl PerspectivesThe SDSHSP followed up on this great success. They announced they were coming out with a trilogy of follow-up books. The first one is called Pioneer Girl Perspectives and is collection essays written by Laura historians, literary people, and some people connected with Laura – including one essay written by Laura herself. On April 27, 2017 the South Dakota State Historical Society took its annual conference (which is really well done and I’m happy to see it still going) and themed it around Laura Ingalls Wilder. The book rolled out at the conference and you had a chance to get everybody then alive whose work appears in it to sign it. The speakers at the conference also appeared in the book.

Revised Texts

The second book in the Pioneer Girl follow up trilogy will be called Pioneer Girl: The Revised TextsThis volume will role out on October 15, 2021. I haven’t seen a copy yet, but this is what SDHSP says what it will include:

The three revised texts of Pioneer Girl, set side by side, showcase the intertwined processes of writing and editing and the contributions of writer and editor. In background essays and annotations, Koupal and her team of editors provide historical context and explore the ways in which Wilder or Lane changed and reused the material.

Wilder and Lane’s partnership has been the subject of longstanding speculation, but Pioneer Girl: The Revised Texts is the first work to explore the women’s relationship by examining the evolution of surviving manuscripts. Showcasing differences in the texts and offering numerous additional documents and handwritten emendations, the editors create a rich resource for scholars to use in assessing the editorial and writing principles, choices, and reasoning that Lane employed to shape the manuscripts for publication. Readers can follow along as Wilder grows into a novelist that “no depression could stop.”

The cover features a painting by water colorist Judy Thompson. Thompson has done or will do the cover art for this series. She is taking the Ingalls family through the year presenting each cover in a different season. Thompson does her watercolor and then the SDHSP makes comments. When I saw her present at the De Smet Event 2017 she brought her first attempt for Pioneer Girl for us to see and it really is the best of any of her work I’ve seen so far. I’m sorry the press went another way. For this volume,  Pioneer GirlThe Revised Texts, her work, titled “Dakota Twilight,” “captures the beauty and soft colors of the prairie at twilight as Grace, Mary, Carrie, and Laura Ingalls return from a walk along the Big Slough.” The original for Pioneer Girl Perspectives was recently on display at the Homestead National Historic Park.

Order It

The Revised Texts is now available for pre-order. Be sure to buy either from the press or one of the homesites. You can order online, but I got caught in a circle of doom so I called with my order and that quickly went through.

Links from Text You Might Especially Want to Know About

This link tells you about the SDSHS conference takes you to the first of a series of posts about if you want to learn more.

My podcast episode from 2017 with Nancy Tystad Koupal.

You can order it.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at  her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Pepin Laura Days 2

Revisiting Laura Days in Pepin from 2008.

Sarah's Notebook

It continued to rain and I ducked into the Train Depot Museum. Nothing new there, but if you haven’t visited before they have a couple of good Laura letters on display. They are also located next to the larger set of real public bathrooms located in the park. So use the Depot as a marker to find them on your first visit. The kids hands on crafts and activities are based out of the picnic shelter at the top of the hill behind the Depot.

Kids Crafts at Pepin Kids Crafts at Pepin

They had corncob dolls, paper hats, strings of paper dolls, etc. I got some popcorn and a hot dog (one of the snappy kind in real cases, at both stands FYI) for lunch. Then I passed by the blue barrel kids train and the Laura’s Vittle House (which fundraises for the event – ear corn, 1/2 chickens, and snappy hot dogs).

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Top 10 Posts During August 2021

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Sarah as Ma in De Smet Pageant Photo Board

Here are the blog posts and pages that have had the most views last month. Take a look maybe there is something there that will interest you, too.

Presents for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Fan in Your Life

Laura Ingalls Wilder Coloring Book by Artist Cheryl Harness

$100 in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Lapdesk

Little House at Fort Wilderness

Laura Links

Guiding Light – Cancellation and Michelle and Danny

Pa’s Bell at Walnut Grove

In the Kitchen With Laura Cambric Tea

Red Chief Tablets

From Prairie to Page Emmy

James Wilder’s First Wife

Book: T Model Tommy

In the Kitchen With Laura Project February 2014 (Parts of a woodstove)

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at  her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Little House at Fort Wilderness

If there is one thing that a Laura or “Little House” fan knows is that anytime there is anything vaguely to do with being a pioneer or anyway old fashioned, people like to say it’s “like Laura.” Now if you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I love Walt Disney. One of my favorite big Disney people is Shannon Albert of WDW Prep School. Shannon makes videos about her trips to Disney the way I make them for Laura homesite trips.

Heather and Shannon from WDW Prep School Camping Out at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness.

So I was really surprised when I was watching videos for her channel. She was on a trip where she rented an RV and a camping place at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. (It’s the cheapest way to stay on site and get the benefits.) It’s really a cool set up they have and I enjoyed the full tour of how camping in an RV works. However, the big surprise was the day they spent in resort. Since they were camping, they pulled out a couple of sunbonnets and announced they were playing Little House on the Prairie.

They decide to spend a morning in the resort/campground. That’s always a great idea at any Disney resort. If you stay there be sure to plan resort time. They decide since they are camping in “the Wilderness” that they’ll wear sunbonnets and make butter. Heather says she feels like she’s Laura at 0:28. Then they end up going into EPCOT. This was during the partial lockdown during 2020.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,   listen to her podcast,    look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,   Twitter ,   LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Promise her anything…

Revisiting an old post.

Sarah's Notebook

My mother says she will never attend another high school production of Bye, Bye Birdie because they never get the pop culture jokes anymore. To be fair, teenagers don’t remember when Ed Sullivan was a Sunday night institution (OK neither do I) or when Elvis was even alive (that I remember). I was excited to see the return of one of those pop culture references.

The lead quotes the ad slogan from Arpege perfume. “Promise her anything…. but give her Arpege.”

The Vermont Country Store is now once again selling it. It was first introduced in 1927. The catalog describes it as “a soft, sultry, scent with notes of bergamot, rose, jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood.” However, at $99 for 3.3 ounces I won’t be trying it soon. If you’re interested you can call them at 1-802-776-5700.

UPDATED August 21 2021: I went ahead and found the current listing on their…

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From Prairie to Page Emmy

The Documentary

For the past several years, Laura fans have been following the story of American Masters creating a documentary about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We heard about them interviewing people (many of whom weren’t included in the documentary so here’s hoping the American Masters archive they talked about when I talked to them at Mansfield comes true). They visited the homesites. They put together a story. Now it was a very introductory story. Much like a movie version of an Easter Egg hunt, there was a lot of Laura stuff that was dropped in there as quick cuts. The way the story was framed and some of what was included probably isn’t what a lot of people hoped and wasn’t given the same treatment as other people from a similar time period in other American Masters documentaries.

BUT it also got Laura’s true life story out to a bunch of people who had no idea. There are people who thought the NBC TV show was an absolute mirror of what the Ingalls life was like (it wasn’t). There are people who had no idea the Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote the books based the books on her real family (she did). There are people who had no idea all the things Laura went through. There are definitely people who didn’t understand what the fuss was about that caused her name to be wrenched off the ALA Wilder Medal (awarded to her in part as an apology for the way ALA treated her thinking they were better than her back then – whoops). Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page set out to get all those people on the same page. This is who Laura Ingalls Wilder sort of is and you can learn more.

Most excitingly, as the producers said, it brought about enough publicity that even coming off the shutdown attendance is surging at many Laura sites and everyone I’ve talked to his selling a lot off their gift shops.

I’d Like to Thank the Academy….

American Masters celebrates Emmy®-nominated season

However, the point of this post is that the entire season of American Masters was nominated for an Emmy. We wish them all the luck. Use talking about it as an excuse to make sure people heard of the one about Laura. Read more at the link above.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at  her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Top 10 Posts During July 2021

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Sarah at the Cupboard Laura is at during the Mansfield library opening

Here are the blog posts and pages that have had the most views last month. Take a look maybe there is something there that will interest you, too.

In the Kitchen With Laura Cambric Tea

In the Kitchen With Laura Green Tomato Pie

Guiding Light – Cancellation and Michelle and Danny

James Wilder’s First Wife

Laura Ingalls Wilder Counting Book

Pa’s Bell at Walnut Grove

News on the Masters Hotel in Walnut Grove

Top 10 Posts During June 2021

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at  her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

In the Kitchen With Laura Green Tomato Pie

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Sarah Baking Green Tomato Pie

In the chapter “Fall of the Year” in The Long Winter Ma makes green pumpkin pie that Pa mistakes for apple. While I was in college and working at Ushers Ferry Historic Village, I started a pie auction fundraiser and we wanted it to be part entertainment so we didn’t want to see a dozen apple pies. We all came up with different pies we could make.  My grandmother made apple with an oatmeal crust (the character that “made” it was connected to Quaker Oats). Mine was green tomato pie. (Shame faced here I was super busy and didn’t look it up and got it in my head it was green TOMATO pie, although really they should be pretty close.) I found a recipe  to start with and made some changes and have convince people it really was apple pie, well store bought apple pie not homemade, but still!

Green Tomato Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Tomatoes or enough to make about 4 cups that look apple-ish, the more the inside of the tomatoes has turned red the more tomatoes you’ll need
  • 2 Pie Crusts
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour
  • 2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, Sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

  1. Wash green tomatoes.
  2. Cut tomatoes to look like apple wedges. Put aside any tomatoes that look too seedy, too ready or in any way non-apple like.
  3. You want to pick out about 4 cups that do look apple like.
  4. Put the crust in the bottom of the pie pan.
  5. Place tomato slices in bottom crust with the most apple looking sides up
  6. Put flour and straight cinnamon together and stir.
  7. Spread the mixture around covering the tomatoes.
  8. Pour cider vinegar in and gently stir it up.
  9. Put pieces of butter on top of the tomatoes, scattered over the surface.
  10. Put the top crust on and pinch edges together to bottom crust.
  11. Cut slices in the top crust to allow venting.
  12. Scatter cinnamon-sugar over the top crust.
  13. Bake at 400 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. Look for the liquid to boil through the slots in the crust.
  14. Let set, but preferably serve while still warm.
  15. The fresher it is the more it will taste like apple pie.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at  her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

The Folksy Charm of Owls

Owl

These days it’s very popular to dismiss the dark depictions of wild animals in old fairytales, adventure stories, and farmer and rancher accounts as being an unfair depiction. Which is probably true, people always exaggerate what they fear. However, the happy little forest creatures depicted in cartoons and popular culture are often equally inaccurate, if in the opposite direction. Many people act like animals, both wild and domestic, are cute, cuddly, friendly, stuffed toys. That they will somehow sense your good will, want to be friends, and welcome a pat or a hug. Often they do NOT.

The best policy with ANY animal you don’t know is to treat it with a healthy respect because deep seated instincts will often tell it to literally bite the hand that feeds it, pats it, wants to treat its wound, or just be friendly. Any living creature needs to be treated with a healthy dose of respect as something with its own will and its own instincts, not as a cuddly stuffed toy, as Arthur and Flaco (ironically enough two talking animals with human characters) learn to their peril in the following Sheldon comic. With any domestic animal, especially on someone else’s property or on display anywhere that is NOT a petting zoo, ask for permission before you touch, or with large animals even approach, someone else’s pet.

http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/100825.html

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at  her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.