“Little House on the Prairie”: My obsession is you

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As the pop culture-y type of person that I am, I tend to relate different moments in my life to what I watched on television at the time.

But none defined my childhood – and early adulthood – as much as “Little House on the Prairie.”

I could totally relate to Laura Ingalls. No, I wasn’t a tomboy. But Laura was so gloriously awkward and not part of the cool crowd that I couldn’t help but love her unconditionally.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen certain episodes – and I am not ashamed to admit that I can recite dialogue from some of them. (My brother can, too, but he may not be as forthcoming.) It’s safe to say that “Who’s going to do the cooking?” is among my favorites.

As an adult, I still find myself tuning in to “Little House” on occasion (doesn’t Hallmark Channel own better copies than those?), and I’ve read memoirs by Melissa Gilbert (“Prairie Tale”) and Alison Arngrim (“Confessions of a Prairie Bitch”). Heck, I’ve even read “I Promised My Dad” by Michael Landon’s daughter, Cheryl Landon Wilson, and I plan on delving into Melissa Sue Anderson’s “The Way I See It” (oh, the irony!) soon.

Oh, and of course I ventured to Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall of 2009 to see “Little House on the Prairie: The Musical” starring Melissa Gilbert (as Ma!). “Little House” comes to New Jersey? I was soooo there!

While I did read the "Little House" books as a kid, I honestly don't remember them all that well. And I definitely didn't obsess over them the way I did "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself."

As a younger child, I also read the “Little House” series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And my mother made me a “Little House” costume for Halloween, bonnet included. I was devastated when I outgrew it. (If I ever find a photo I will post it.)

Yes, I’m a wee bit obsessed.

So I was thrilled to find someone else who shared a similar, albeit slightly different, “Little House” obsession. Author Wendy McClure’s fascination – which is oh-so-awesomely documented in “The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie'” – lies with the books and the real lives of Laura and her family. McClure dives head-first into “Laura’s World,” visiting all of the sites her favorite subject lived in and attempting to live her own life Ingalls style (butter churning, candy making and bread rising, to name a few).

The real Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder.

Hollywood's version of Laura and Zaldamo - oops, I mean Almanzo.

As much as I love the TV show, I loved learning about the real Laura. At times, I found myself jealous of McClure for walking where Laura walked and reliving history, in a way.

I also admire McClure’s writing style. As a writer, I know it’s not always easy to get your passion across for a subject, but she does a bang-up job. I could totally relate to the near-drool state she was in at the American Girl store. (Oh how I wish such a thing existed when I was young!) And I found myself wondering if she also shared my love of the Sunfire young adult historical romance novels, and whether she planned on reading the new book “Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West” as I did.

I also totally appreciate her pop-culture references. “WKRP in Cincinnati” was one of my family’s favorite TV shows, too, and the fact that she so casually drops words like “Otisburg” (“It’s a little bitty place!”) in the middle of a sentence – well, that just makes me laugh out loud.

I did wish “The Wilder Life” included photographs of the Laura sites McClure visited, but they are well-documented on her Flickr page. And any reference she makes to photos of the Ingallses/Wilders can be easily Googled. (Why does that sound so dirty?)

If you’re a “Little House” fan you should definitely check out “The Wilder Life.” And be sure to visit McClure’s Facebook and Twitter pages. If ONLY her joint book tour with Alison Arngrim was coming to the Garden State!

4 Comments

  1. dotty cashen said,

    November 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I just love when they both (nellie and Laura) try to get manly and they have a mud fight. That as so funny I watched it alot of times over and over.

  2. avagacser said,

    September 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Yes! I watched Little House every day after school on Channel 11, too!

    My favorite episodes are when Mary goes blind, meets Adam and the Ingallses, Garveys and Olesons move to Winoka and meet Albert. I believe those episodes are airing tomorrow night, too!

    Kyle Richards actually played Alicia, who was adopted by Mr. Edwards and his wife, Grace. She had two other brothers, Carl and John Jr., and their mom (Patricia Neal) became sick and died and it was Pa’s responsibility to find them a new home.

  3. Tammy said,

    September 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    I was comp obsessed with Little House when I was a kid! By the time I really started watching it ( i was prob 4-5, so 1980) it was repeats. I remember it came on everyday at 5pm on Channel 11. Which was WPIX/New Jersey…
    I became obsessed with everything historical too! I always toured old houses, farms, stores, etc….and compared it to Laura Ingalls, Lol. Bergen County NJ wasn’t anything like Little IMG_0043.JPGHouse, ever! But ~ i ended up learning alot about my area ( Montvale nj) and I credit Little House for that…
    I still watch it on. Hallmark, too….I hate to even admit this, but, my fav episode was always when Marys House burns down! All b/c of Albert!!
    Oh and isn’t “Carrie” Kyle from Real Housewives of Bev Hills????

  4. Regina said,

    July 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I just loved when Nelly and Laura tried to win “Manly”. It was a true competition. It was great to see that (the rolls were kind of changed) Manly won Laura. Great job!


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