Little House Fans Head North

Wilder House with Flag
Wilder House with Flag

Recently the Almanzo Wilder Homestead News newsletter’s top story was the fact that Mountain Lake PBS (the affiliate for up state New York) had done a news magazine story on the Wilder farm as it stands today. It includes footage inside the house where you’re not normally allowed to take photos. The guide points to where the blacking brush Almanzo threw at Eliza Jane hit (they show a blacking brush, but I think it might have been a bigger brush if he could throw it very well).

The story focuses on tour guides Katelyn Pierce and Jim Lusk.

Malone is a great place to visit, but it’s a long drive down a two lane road from everywhere. Enjoy this short visit and plan one in real life too.

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Sloo and Slough aka Emily of Deep Valley

My beautiful picture A version of this was originally published on Beyond Little House.

Pronounce It Sloo or Sl-wow

When I was in De Smet, South Dakota one summer, although this happens almost every time I go, I was talking about the Big Slough and how you pronounce it. You get people who pronounce slough rhymes with moo and slough rhymes with cow. As always a quote from Emily of Deep Valley popped into my head. Emily of Deep Valley is by Maud Hart Lovelace.

Maud Hart Lovelace and Betsy-Tacy

Lovelace is most famous for her Betsy-Tacy books that were loosely based on her life growing up in Mankato, Minnesota. Her childhood home and the home belonging to her inspiration for Tacy have been purchased by the society and restored in appearance to when Maud/Betsy would have lived there. There is talk about getting Tib’s house (the other lead character in the books) as well which is on the next street. Places out of these books really exist, much as they do for Laura and other places from the books have been created by fans. The fan organization, the Betsy-Tacy Society is extremely well organized and puts on a very professional conference. Most fans love the main cycle of Betsy-Tacy books best (they are now all back in print so you can read them for yourself), but the one with a special place in my heart is Emily of Deep Valley, a sort of sequel to the side. Emily doesn’t appear in the other Besty-Tacy books, she’s several years younger than Betsy, but the Betsy-Tacy-Tib characters do make a rather large cameo appearance in Emily. I loved it because it’s such a beautiful picture of large town life at the time when high schools were becoming common. It’s a lovely little epoch until the Great War brings it all down, but in their Edwardian time bubble they can’t know that. I also admire Emily’s spirit and her plans which, due to her grandfather’s needs and old-fashioned perceptions, can’t include college. It was Emily I loved.

The Big Slough Or You Say Tomato

But to get back to De Smet and the Big Slough, other fans I talked to said they had the same thing happen to them. Hearing people refer to slough, as sl-wow instead of sloo also reminded them of Emily. It’s so nice to be with people who understand you. I hope you can make your own trip to De Smet and experience it for yourself.

Oh, and the other thing a slough reference makes pop into my head is Cherry Jones reading Farmer Boy. Jones, clearly not a farm girl, says hay mow (rhymed with row) instead of hay mow (rhymes with now). Every time I listen to it, I spend the whole time I listen to Farmer Boy automatically correcting her. Now you can too. ;-)

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Emily of Deep Valley. New York: Harper Trophy, 2000. ISBN 0064408582

“The Deep Valley slough, pronounced sloo, was the marshy inlet of a river. When Emily had first read Pilgrim’s Progress, after finding it mentioned in Louisa M. Alcott’s Little Women, she had pronounced the Slough of Despond sloo, too. She had called it sloo until Miss Fowler had told her in English class that Bunyan’s Slough rhymed with “how.” Miss Fowler had made the correction in a casual unembarrassing way, putting her emphasis on the fact that Emily alone, out of the class, had read Pilgrim’s Progress.” pp.15-16.

Summary of Emily of Deep Valley

To flesh out the book a little more Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather and it never even occurs to him that he might send her. Emily resigns herself to facing a “lost winter,” but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. With a new program of study (both on her own and with a woman’s club in town), a growing interest in the Syrian immigrant community she can help, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed. This is one of three non-Betsy-Tacy novels set in the same community of Deep Valley, a stand in for her home town of Mankato, Minnesota. I love this book because it really depicts the time period so well.

Sarah S. Uthoff 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.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Wilder Farm From The Air

I wanted to make sure everyone got to see this video footage of the Wilder farm in Malone/Burke, New York. It really stumped me at first because while it’s too smooth to be a hand carried camera it was too bumpy to be either a camera on rails, a boom, or a professional steady cam camera man. (Especially note the strange hesitations before they fly through the building. When I posted this confusion on Facebook I was took it was shot with a miniature camera attached to a remote control helicopter type vehicle.  In other words, they used something like this. That made me immediately want one. How fun would that be!

Recreated Wilder Barns
Recreated Wilder Barns

There aren’t any spoken words or soundtrack so this might help you figure out what you’re seeing. Strangely it avoids the house at first and the new one-room school, but it gives you a nice overview of the reconstructed barns. Then we enter through one of the doors of the big barn and follow back through it to the walled in barnyard behind it. The big barn open at left should be the first one they flew through. Cut back above the barns and we get a good look at this walled in barnyard. Then we reverse our path through the barn and come out and get a quick glimpse of the house. Then cut to entrance through the door that’s on the far left of the barns into the carriage and sleigh storage area. Attention finally turns to the house. After that we get a beautiful shot of the barns from the field right behind the barnyard and that’s it. The Music is from Sleeping Giant Records and is a folk song recorded in 2001.

Sarah S. Uthoff 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.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

De Smet Adds To Illustration Collection

The Garth Williams estate has been selling off his original artwork from the Little House series one book’s worth at a time. The sales are being handled by Heritage Auctions of New York City and are broadcast over the Internet. The most recent said was October 22, 2011 featured the illustrations from Farmer Boy. The Nov. 9, 2011 issue of the De Smet News reported the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society of De Smet was able to purchase three additional pieces for their collection. They have been working on raising money in a special fund to buy these pieces. Bernice Mundhenke is the campaign chair and has been working with manager Cheryl Palmlund of the society. Mundenke says donations have come in both local people and Laura fans around the country. As of early November they had $30,000 in this fund. Their goal is to get at least one original illustration from each book from the series of auctions.  The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, MN is taking the opposite approach and is trying to raise money to purchase as many of the original illustrations from On the Banks of Plum Creek as possible. The sales are also open to fans if you have a few thousand dollars to spare. Illustrations from On the Banks of Plum Creek will be up for auction in February 2012 and those from By the Shores of Silver Lake will be auctioned in May 2012.

The Society says you can find their three illustrations on page 7 (School Days), page 115 (Bushel Baskets for Potatoes), and page 148 (Somebody’s Prowling Around this House) – no edition given. They expect to have $3,000 invested in these three images including shipping.

Read more about the De Smet project:
http://www.discoverlaura.org/illustration.html

On the way to Little House on the Prairie the Roadshow

I finally made it. I saw the musical at the Guthrie last year and I’ve been trying to get to see the roadshow all year. A bustrip fell through when it opened in Minnesota. I just couldn’t make the schedule work out for Wisconsin, but FINALLY I got tickets for Sioux Falls and two friends to go with me and we headed out. WAGONS HO!

OK, so it was Seebring ho! Same principle. AAA said it was about 5 1/2 hours to Sioux Falls, but they were off. At least it took us longer than that. One of my friends insisted on driving the whole way, so I’m sure it was an especially long day for him. We ate lunch at Trumbles in Albert Lea. Good place to stop if you’re passing through on your way to say Mankato (wink).

 It was a new route for my friends, so I made sure we stopped at the giant Jolly Green Giant at Blue Earth and the giant cement tipi just outside of Sioux Falls. Did you know they have a museum downtown about the Green Giant Company? I didn’t either. Didn’t stop this time, but it’s on my list now. Luck seemed to be with us when the gift shop at the Jolly Green Giant’s feet (it isn’t always), but then we drove into a torrent of a storm. The temperature dropped 20 degrees from one side of the front to the other, but luckily no hail as the weather radio predicted, just lots of hard rain. Finally it calmed down to  a steady rain. Not good when we were planning on walking to the theater.

Good news it was easy to find our hotel. The Country Inn and Suites which the Washington Pavillion assured me that many of the people who perform there stay at. It really was a pretty hotel and as I normally only hit Sioux Falls when I’m taking I-90 instead of Highway 14 which means I’m in a hurry, I had no idea they do guided trolley rides and have a very nice river walk which the hotel sat right on. Who knew?

We picked the wrong restaurant for supper. It took forever to get our food and we didn’t get out of there until a little after 6:30. The show started at 7 pm and while we had directions and a map none of us had ever been there before. Adrenilne time.

It wasn’t that far a walk and we found the 1906 Sioux Falls high school that has been made over into an arts center. The large auditorium with the stage was only part of it. There was a large diverse crowd milling about with a good smattering of girls in prairie dresses. De Smet had a large display up for Destination Laura and I knew the cast had been at the Ingalls Homestead for a press conference that morning.

Sign on the door, “Insights into Production a discusion with the cast 6:15”. After I called on Friday and they swore they weren’t doing anything like that. GRRRR! It couldn’t have been too long though because by 6:50 the stage was totally empty. Still GRRRRR!

The tickets were at the Will Call window just like they were supposed to be. Success. AND they really were very good seats. I’ve had better (up in PEI for Anne of Green Gables the musical – a production the producers of this one really should watch before they do anything else with it), but these were very, very good and there was even one with a place for my friend to stretch out his leg after all that driving.

On the way in I passed Dean Butler in the hall, looking very producer like, and as we both were hurrying to our seats so I let it go and didn’t say anything to him. I only said to my friend,” that’s Dean Butler.” He was in town for a screening of the Farmer Boy documentary and a preview of the Laura one. If I had known sooner we’d have scheduled for the 2nd instead and gone to that screening too. Oh well, more about the actual play tomorrow.

Sloo and Slough

When I was in De Smet this summer, we were talking about the Big Slough and as always a quote from Emily of Deep Valley popped into my head. Other people in the conference planning group said they had the same thing happen to them. It’s so nice to be with people who understand you. I hope all our readers get that chance at the conference this summer.

Oh, and the other thing the quote makes pop into my head is Cherry Jones reading Farmer Boy. Jones, clearly not a farm girl, says hay mow (rhymed with row) instead of hay mow (rhymes with now). Every time I listen to it, I spend the whole time automatically correcting her. Now you can too. 😉

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Emily of Deep Valley. New York: Harper Trophy, 2000. ISBN 0064408582

“The Deep Valley slough, pronounced sloo, was the marshy inlet of a river. When Emily had first read Pilgrim’s Progress, after finding it mentioned in Louisa M. Alcott’s Little Women, she had pronounced the Slough of Despond sloo, too. She had called it sloo until Miss Fowler had told her in English class that Bunyan’s Slough rhymed with “how.” Miss Fowler had made the correction in a casual unembarrassing way, putting her emphasis on the fact that Emily alone, out of the class, had read Pilgrim’s Progress.” pp.15-16.

Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather. Emily resigns herself to facing a “lost winter,” but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian immigrant community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed. This is one of three non-Betsy-Tacy novels she set in the same community of Deep Valley, a stand in for her home town of Mankato, Minnesota. Betsy and Tacy do make a brief cameo appearance. I love this book because it really depicts the time period so well.

I am be

One thing that I’m still trying to find out about is a Wilder habit of speech. It’s displayed by all the James Wilder family in both Farmer Boy and later by both Royal and Almanzo in the De Smet books. They substitute “be” for “am.” For example, “You’re older than I be” instead of “You’re older than I am.” I think for its use to be as consistent as it is, this must have been a grammatical habit that Manly kept for the rest of his life.

I have pursued an answer along two lines. First, I talked to people who do 19th century accents as part of living history. However, so far I haven’t found one who recognized the construction as a 19th century trait. Striking out there I figured maybe it was regionalism. For example, people of long term rural stock in Iowa tend to pronounce creek as crick and wash as warsh. However, when I asked around Malone and other people I know from New York that struck out as well. So where did this structure come from? I don’t know. I’m still looking. Any other thoughts?