Little House on the Prairie

24 July 2008

I think that I have reached an age where I can finally admit the awful truth. Gulp, here goes. When I was a kid, I really enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie. There, I said it.

Of course I could never have admitted that at the time, for fear of all the other kids in school calling me a big poof. But if there was a chance that I could sneak a viewing on a late Sunday morning I would. Now I know that these stories should have been a little sickly sweet for an early teen male who should have had testosterone pumping from every pore, but I like to show my feminine side too (ladies like that, so I hear). Oh the simple life in Walnut Grove, skipping home along the lane from school. OK, maybe I’ve gone too a little too far. (Deep, throat clearing noises)

I watched the show as regularly as I could, but then something terrible happened. Mary Ingalls (the pretty, older daughter) went blind while I was away on a family holiday and I missed it. Somehow the show wasn’t the same after that, or perhaps Logan’s Run or The Incredible Hulk or Battlestar Galactica grabbed my attention, I can’t remember exactly.

Years later when I was at art school and having my own rented flat, when Little House on the Prairie came around on another re-run, I watched it again. A guilty pleasure, but then something terrible happened.  Mary Ingalls (the pretty, older daughter) went blind while I was away on holiday and I missed it. And to this day I have never found out why or how this calamity happened. As I missed it both times, it might have even been my fault. How can I ever forgive myself.

Why all this talk about Little House on the Prairie? Because today as we sped along Interstate 90 on the last short stretch east of Sioux Falls, we could have detoured north a little to De Smet, South Dakota, the real setting for Laura Ingalls WilderLittle House on the Prairie books. If we had stopped, maybe I would have discovered the reason for poor Mary’s blindness, but we didn’t.

Then knock me over with a covered wagon, we could also have moseyed north to Walnut Grove, Minnesota and paid a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum too to shed even more light on the matter. Maybe some other time. Until then there is always re-runs, DVDs and Wikipedia.

By Andy Clarke

Your messages

I devoured the books when I was a young girl, made it exactly as far as that calamity when Mary Ingalls (the pretty, older daughter) went blind, cried my little heart out, and never touched them again. To this day, when my eye strays occasionally toward the re-runs they show on Hallmark, I can’t help but nurse a deep resentment that it was just Laura’s karma striking Mary down for getting to wear the pretty blue ribbons in her golden hair…

Hey Andy, Sue (and Alex), I’ve really enjoyed following your progress across my country. Please let me know if you’re going to be anyway near Southern or Central Virginia (specifically Norfolk). I’d love to meet you guys for drinks and conversation.

Continued safe travels.

(Andy says: Sorry mate, we’re finishing this trip in New York City in a few days, then flying back to Blighty. I hope to catch up with you on a future trip.)

  • Steve Jebson
  • July 25th 2008

As it’s a bit of a confesion day, I’ll have to put my hand up and state that my three younger sisters still love to recount the fact that not only did I watch the show eagerly, but that i would more often than not shed a tear! (Now where’s the “anonymise my post” tick box?)

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