While searching for an image a few weeks ago, I accidentally pulled up the archive of This American Life out of WBEZ Chicago and their description of their August 20, 1999 episode (#137). The show has a theme each week and then presents four profile-type news stories that relate to the theme. The theme for this particular episode was “The Book That Changed Your Life.” In Act 4 “Little Sod Houses for You and Me,” Writer Meghan Daum goes to De Smet, South Dakota and finds it to be remarkably similar to what Meghan had pictured before she went: the people seem like they are genuinely trying to hold on to the values Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about in her books. (15 minutes)
This time capsule from 1999 features interviews with Tim and Joan Sullivan and Marian Cramer among others. While some things have changed, (in 1999 the pageant was still mimed to a tape recording) it gives a good feeling for what a visit to De Smet is like.
You may stream the audio of the show here:
To find this story scroll down about a third of the way down the page or to Act 4 to the correct story. Or, for about a dollar, you may download from Audibles.com or iTunes.com. I ordered it as a CD which comes in what looks like a classic record sleeve and is very cool.
WARNING: The De Smet Pageant story is in Act 4 of the show. While I also enjoyed Act 1 about Moss Hart’s autobiography and Act 3 about collecting Lewis and Clark books, Act 2 is about “David Sedaris describes what happens when he finds a dirty book in the woods and shares it with his sisters.” I got about minute in and decided I didn’t really care to hear any more of this story. The story is also published in the author’s book Naked.
UPDATED March 22 2017: I added the photo of their logo, my signature block, doublechecked the links and made a couple of minor edits to the text.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving 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. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.