Prairie living with Almonzo Wilder
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I’ve figured out why “Little House on the Prairie” was one of my favorite TV shows as a child.
And it has nothing to do with Almonzo Wilder.
Although I did have a serious crush. He was just so cute, sensitive, rugged and ready to have babies.
Who wasn’t back then?
In my elementary school years, I bore an uncanny resemblance to a young Melissa Gilbert. She portrayed Laura Ingalls, the author of the book series of which the TV show was based. We had the same middle name, Elizabeth. My softball teammates even called me Laura Ingalls’ nickname, Half Pint, especially when I rocked the braided pig tails and crowded pre-braces smile. I owe my parents big time for the orthodontics.
Something tells me fixing crooked teeth wasn’t really a priority on the prairie.
Between fireworks, Wimbledon tennis and rafting, I caught some of the Hallmark Channel’s “Little House on the Prairie” marathon over the July 4 weekend. I was instantly taken back to the 1970s and ’80s when I, like Laura, was always smaller than the other kids. I also had to trick boys into liking me.
Not much has changed.
Back then I rarely missed a LHOTP episode. Like Laura, I always learned my lessons the hard way. Violence isn’t really my thing – a girl once spit in my hair in high school and I cowered away – but I did long to see Laura take down Nellie Oleson in a good, old-fashioned frontier fight.
Except Nellie was the mean one so she probably would’ve won.
I loved Michael Landin as Pa. Who didn’t want his fatherly advice when life on the prairie seemed to be at its worst? I imagine his deep, dark tan and flowing head of hair were the envy of all the other prairie dads.
He also did suspenders and high-waisted wool pants some serious justice.
Even better was Ma, or Caroline Ingalls, voted No. 35 on ugo.com’s “50 Hottest Moms on TV” list. Caroline Ingalls could do it all – give birth in a seriously small house on a freezing cold prairie, bite her tongue when the wagon wheels would break and Charles Ingalls took forever to fix them – you know, the prairie-mom usual. She was a working mom before working moms were touted as such. Except she didn’t get paid. And if she did, it would’ve been less than the men in Walnut Grove.
I’m so glad life has changed.
After a few episodes I realized if I were to take one of those career tests in the 1880s, my guidance counselor might say I was born to be a homesteader. I secretly like the idea of moving from place to place trying to improve my chances of success, just like the Ingalls family. I’m not sure how great I’d be at surviving the living-off-the-land part of that scenario.
Especially since I really love indoor plumbing.
There is a part of me – deep inside that doesn’t rely too heavily on designer shoes – that yearns for a place like that little ol’ house on the prairie. A garden with fresh vegetables, homemade fried chicken and biscuits for dinner, and zero traffic. Of course I’d seriously need to learn to dig big holes, plant and harvest. I’d be the one cooking every one of those dinners with lard and an iron skillet. And I’d be enjoying the lack of traffic because I wouldn’t be trusted behind the reins of horses pulling a covered wagon. The malaria and small pox outbreaks wouldn’t be so romantic.
Or the dental work process, circa 1880s.
With only a general store, church, doctor’s office, blacksmith shop, sawmill and one-room schoolhouse in town, I wouldn’t spend as much on socializing.
That’s where Almonzo Wilder comes into the picture.
April E. Clark wishes she had entered a Laura Ingalls look-alike contest as a kid. She might have had her Hollywood big break as a Laura Ingalls stunt double. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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