Saturday, August 29, 2015

LHOP Adventure Day 7

Hard to believe we are almost done. Thinking back on my trip more than a year later, I can't believe I did it. The girl who rarely travels and who is petrified of flying got on a plane all by herself and traveled across the country to meet a bunch of women she had only known online. I ever learned to use a map. Wow!

Day 7 started with a quick breakfast at the hotel in Spring Valley. We knew we had a lot of driving ahead of us, so we got on the road early and headed to Burr Oak, Iowa. Laura fans will remember that after leaving Walnut Grove, the Ingalls family spent some time with Uncle Peter and his family in South Troy, Minnesota before making their way to Burr Oak, Iowa to help their friends manage the Master's Hotel.

Now a museum, this is where I am fairly certain I purchased not only some note cards, but t-shirts for my girls. 

After eating lunch at The Family Table in Decorah, we drove back to Wisconsin. To do that, we took a nice scenic route and crossed over the Mississippi. Oh, my gosh, how scary it was going up the bridge. I like bridges about as much as I like flying, so my knuckles were so tight around the steering wheel, I was afraid I might crush it. In the seat next to me, Dorothy kept asking, "Are you all right?" I couldn't look sideways or down because that bridge just kept going up, and up, and up. It was well worth the view once we were down on the other side. Check out the neat boats.

Finally back in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, we had supper at Ponderosa--didn't even know those still existed because we haven't had one around here in more than thirty years. 

It was tough to settle in that night because I knew all of us were flying home the next day. It would be hard to say goodbye to my wonderful friends, but I was also thrilled to know I would see my family again soon.

You can read our Day 6 adventures here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

LHOP Adventure Day 6

I'm coming close to the end of sharing my 2014 LHOP Adventure. My last post was on Day 5. It was great meeting the cast members and hanging out in Walnut Grove, but I have to admit it was a bit hectic there too, and we had to stay on a strict timeline to get everything accomplished.

We decided to go back to Red Rooster for breakfast, but before we left Walnut Grove, we made sure to take pictures with the entire cast. Then we made our way to Spring Valley.

For those familiar with the real life of Laura and Almanzo Wilder, Spring Valley, Minnesota is where Almanzo's parents moved their family in 1873. The Spring Valley Methodist Church was built in 1876, and James Wilder (Almanzo's father) contributed to its construction.

After Almanzo's stroke, he and Laura lived in Spring Valley for a year before moving to Florida.

The church is now a museum and holds numerous artifacts, including records that indicate Almanzo and Laura attended the church from 1890 to 1891.

We also visited the cemetery and Wilder barn, which the owner allows people to view from the street. The Wilder home has since been torn down. 

The night ended with supper at Pizza Palace, before we tucked ourselves into bed at the Spring Valley Inns and Suites (perhaps our nicest accommodations of the trip--besides Beth's house).

Friday, August 21, 2015

LHOP Adventure Day 5

I can't believe it has been six months since my last LHOP Adventure update. You will have to excuse my tardiness, because my new career as a real estate agent is booming and I haven't had time to blog much.

If you want to remember what happened on Day 4, you can check it out here.

We started the fifth day of our adventure by having breakfast at Nellie's "Little Cafe on the Prairie," where they only accept cash. I really didn't think my friends were serious when they told me to bring a lot of money. Who doesn't take credit cards? Well, now we know Nellie doesn't.

It had been raining, so some of the cast got a bit wet before sitting down to sign autographs. That morning, I waited in line for Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey), Radames Pera (John Sanderson Jr.), and Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle). All of them were so pleasant. 

Divas Beth and Lorrie get their autographs.

We did more sightseeing and had lunch in the park. I chatted with some local authors and collected their business cards. We also waited in line to get autographs from Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Dan McBride (Henry Riley--the guy who always ate at Nellie's Restaurant, but always complained about the food), and the Turnbaugh Twins who played Grace Ingalls. 

Nasty Nellie Oleson (but Alison is very nice).

We ate at Red Rooster for supper and then we hung out together until bedtime. Another day of traveling awaited us. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Protest: LHOP Inspired Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

The Protest

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Almanzo poked his head out of the doorway of the Feed and Seed when he heard Eliza Jane call his name. "Yeah, Sis."

Her skirt swished as she walked up to the platform. "I have a favor to ask of you. Laura Ingalls is taking a temporary teaching job in Curry. Would you mind driving her back and forth?"

"I dunno, Sis." His eyes wide, he wondered how he could get out of this. "Can't Mr. Ingalls do it?"

Eliza Jane shook her head. "Caroline was just telling me the other day how busy he is at the mill with Mr. Garvey away. 

"And there's nobody else?"

"What's wrong with you, Mannie? Laura and you are friends and you're always saying Barnum could use the exercise."

Almanzo removed his hat and jumped down off the platform. "I just don't wanna give Beth the wrong impression."

She squinted. "What are you talking about?"

"I've tried my best not to encourage this crush of hers." He shrugged. "If I take her, she might think it means somethin' it don't."

Eliza Jane pursed her lips. "I honestly don't believe she feels that way for you anymore."

"Whatya mean?" he asked, surprisingly hurt by her remark. 

"I honestly think she's passed being enamored with you. She hasn't said anything about the buggy ride you took her on a few weeks ago, nor has she asked to go again. Besides, there are new young men coming into town all the time. And of course there's the matter of Perley Day. She seemed quite taken with him while he was here."

"Perley Day never woulda been a likely suitor for her," he said. "He doesn't care about anyone but himself."

Eliza Jane placed her hand on top of his arm. "I think you're being too hard on him. I know he's irresponsible and reckless at times, but he truly seemed to like her. I wonder what might have happened between the two of them if he had stayed."

"I don't wanna talk about him, Eliza Jane."

"Then why don't you tell me what's really bothering you."

He lowered his head. "I already told ya."

"I think you're making more of this than there is. All I'm asking is for you to drive her to and from work."

He shuffled his boots in the dirt. "What boys have been noticing her?"

"Jimmy Hill and Christie Kennedy are no longer courting, and I understand he was quite smitten with Laura when his family lived in town before. There's that new boy Seth whose father bought the old Jenkins farm, and even Bart Slater is taken with her...though he knows she would never have him."

"Whatya know about these boys?" he asked suspiciously. "I mean, we all know Slater is trouble, but what about the other two?"

Eliza Jane placed a hand across her chest. "Since when did you become so protective of Laura Ingalls?"

He was stunned by the question. "I…uh…I just don't wanna see her gettin' hurt is all."

"Well, if you ask me, you're acting like someone who is interested in more than mere friendship."

"Don't be silly. Beth is just a kid."

"If you say so, Almanzo. So, are you going to take her?"

"Seein' as there's nobody else, I suppose I havta."

"I suppose so."

"Don't make a big deal out of it when ya tell her."

"I wouldn't dream of it," she replied. After a moment she added, "You know, Almanzo, it seems the only one making a big deal out of this is you." She gave him that older sister look over the rim of her eyeglasses and then walked to Nellie's Restaurant to wait for him to finish working. He would pick her up when he was done.

Almanzo moseyed back into the office of the Feed and Seed. How could Eliza Jane accuse him of being interested in Beth? She was just a friend. They liked the same things and that's why he enjoyed spending time with her. He certainly didn't see Laura as a girlfriend.

He remembered the women he had courted since moving to Walnut Grove; all refined young ladies who could have been good wives, but something was missing — they didn't share his passion for the farm. They tolerated how he went on about his plans for purchasing another hundred acres, but when they sweetly smiled at him he could tell he was boring them to death. But not Beth. Her eyes lit up when he spoke about the farm of his dreams. She even helped him break in Barnum. He had to admit he had more in common with her than any of the young women he had dangled on his arm. Surely though, there was no future with her. She was so much younger than he.

Almanzo took off his hat and scratched his head. He walked onto the platform and gazed over at the schoolhouse. What was it that made him argue against bringing Laura to Curry? There wasn't really any reason he couldn't bring her. Work at the Feed and Seed had been kind of slow. He shook his head. Eliza Jane was right; all he was doing was bringing her back and forth to work. Why should Laura think there was more to it than that?

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

On This Date in Ingalls History: Charles "Pa" Ingalls Dies

On June 8, 1902 Charles Phillip Ingalls died of heart disease. His pioneering spirit led him across many states and territories before he finally settled his family in De Smet, SD. An esteemed member of the De Smet community, he helped organized the Congregational Church and held a variety of elected positions in town.

Many years later, Laura Ingalls Wilder captured her Pa's pioneering spirit in the opening pages of Little House on the Prairie:

A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin....Pa said there were too many people in the Big Woods now...Wild animals would not stay in a country where there were so many people. Pa did not like to stay, either. He liked a country where the wild animals lived without being afraid. He liked to see the little fawns and their mothers looking at him from the shadowy woods, and the fat, lazy bears eating berries in the wild-berry patches."

Photo from my visit last summer.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Decoration Day

What we currently know as Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. Officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, it stemmed from a desire to honor the dead of the Civil War.

New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873, followed by all of the northern states in 1890. The South honored their dead on different days until after World War I, when the holiday was changed to honor Americans who died fighting in any war.

In Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend, author John E. Miller discusses how the Fourth of July and Decoration Day were the two biggest days of the year in the Mansfield, Missouri, where Almanzo and Laura Wilder lived most of their adult lives. Missouri was a border state, as Miller explains, so many families in and around Mansfield had Southern roots; but Union veterans maintained a high visibility. Miller states that while it is unknown how often the Wilders participated in Decoration Day exercises, they were active public figures: Almanzo was a Mason and both Wilders were involved in Eastern Star.

For more information on Memorial Day, visit

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Buggy Ride: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

The Buggy Ride

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

The townspeople of Walnut Grove filed out the front door as soon as Reverend Alden dismissed them. The warm weather had made the church uncomfortable and the sermon short.

Laura stood next her pa's wagon waiting for her parents to finish chatting with Mrs. Foster. She gazed over at the buggies lined up on one side of the church. All summer long, young couples would venture out to the lake or on a long ride through the countryside, sometimes stopping to share a picnic lunch before returning home.

She saw Christie Kennedy join Jimmy Hill in his buggy. Even Bart Slater had found a young lady to take for a drive. She spotted Nellie Oleson climbing into a buggy with her new beau, Tom Murphy, who had just moved into town.

No one had asked Laura; and the one person she wished to go on a buggy ride with couldn't see her as anything but a child. Nellie turned up her nose as she gave Laura a haughty stare from her seat next to Tom. The self-satisfied grin made Laura's face hot with anger. Nellie smirked as Tom chirruped to his horses and they took off towards the lake.

Jealous and angry, Laura stomped over to the church steps where Almanzo and Eliza Jane were saying goodbye to Reverend Alden.

"Oh. Hello, Laura," said Miss Wilder.

"Hello, Miss Wilder. Hi, Manly."

"Howdy, Beth. Is there something I can do for ya?"

Suddenly nervous, Laura glanced down at her feet. "I…uh…"

"Are you all right?" Eliza Jane asked.

Laura spied the last young couple heading out of town in their buggy, bringing her confidence back. "Yes, I'm fine," she answered with determination. "Manly, would you take me on a buggy ride this afternoon?"

Caught off guard by her question, Almanzo wasn't sure how to respond. He took his hat off and pushed back his wavy blond hair. He knew Laura had a crush on him. He had done his best not to encourage it, but if he said no, she would be embarrassed and hurt.

"I don't know, Beth. I've got a lot to do."

Eliza Jane snickered. "What could you possibly have to do on a Sunday?"

Laura sighed. "It's okay. I understand." She turned to leave.

Almanzo grabbed her arm. "Beth, it ain't what ya think. I just…the buggy only sits two and I havta bring Eliza Jane home."

"I can bring her home if you like," interjected Reverend Alden.

"Why thank you," said Miss Wilder. "See, it all worked out. Now you're free to go if you like, Mannie."

A renewed hope filled Laura's eyes as she awaited Almanzo's answer. He shrugged, no longer having an excuse not to take her.

"Well, I guess we can go if your pa says it's all right."

Laura and Almanzo walked over to Charles's wagon. She could see the trepidation on her pa's face.

"Afternoon, Mr. Ingalls," said Almanzo. "Mrs. Ingalls. I was wonderin' if Laura could accompany me on a buggy ride this afternoon."

Charles turned to Caroline, then over to Laura. He saw the eagerness on his daughter's face. It scared him--almost as much as Almanzo's unspoken intentions.

"I don't know, Almanzo…"

"Well, Barnum could use the exercise now that he's fully recovered, and Beth sure does seem to have a way with him."

"Please, Pa." Laura hated to beg. It made her sound like a child. But for a chance to ride with Manly, she would swallow her pride. 

"It's a beautiful day for a buggy ride, Charles." Caroline's wide smile revealed her straight white teeth. "Besides, it's for the horse." 

Almanzo almost choked. It sounded ridiculous when Mrs. Ingalls said it that way. "We're just goin' down to the lake."

Charles glanced over at Caroline one last time and then turned to Laura who looked like she would burst at any moment.

"Have her back by supper time," said Charles.

Almanzo shook his hand. "I will, Sir. Ya ready to go, Beth?"

Laura looked up at her ma. Caroline's eyes told her to relax and play it smart.

"I think so, Manly," Laura replied in a calm voice. She took his hand when he offered it and strolled with him towards his buggy, reminding herself not to act like a giddy school girl.

"Did we ever figure out how old he is?" Charles asked his wife.

"No, we didn't."

Almanzo led Barnum down the road towards the lake. Laura intentionally didn't say too much, lest she prattle on like an immature child. He glanced over at her occasionally wondering why she wasn't her vibrant, talkative self.

"Somethin wrong, Beth?"

"Oh no, Manly, everything's fine. I'm just enjoying the ride." Enjoying the ride my foot, she thought. How can I enjoy the ride when I'm too scared to do the wrong thing and risk ruining it?

Laura caught sight of Nellie and Tom on the other side of the lake. When Nellie spotted her, she began to hang all over Tom, making in difficult for him to control his horse. Laura rolled her eyes.

"That Nellie Oleson," she said without thinking.

"What about Nellie Oleson?"

Embarrassed, she tried to dismiss the comment. "Oh, it's nothing."

"Aw c'mon, ya gotta tell me. You've been too quiet today. I'm beginnin' to think ya don't enjoy my company."

"It could never be that," she gushed. Laura's face warmed and she put her hand up to hide the red color she felt certain was staining her cheeks. "Do you mind if I take the reins for a little while?"

"Be my guest. Barnum likes you better anyway."

As she grabbed the reins, she felt Almanzo's strong hands tighten over hers. Her pulse quickened. She gazed up at him and, for a second, lost herself in his ocean blue eyes.

"Ya got um?" he asked.

Shaken, all she could do was nod. When he released his grip, she wished he had held onto her for a few moments longer. Then she spied Nellie staring at her and romance was forgotten. Laura slapped Barnum with the reins and called, "Ha, ha!" The horse sped into a gallop.

Almanzo saw her mischievous grin as Beth brought the horse around to the other side of the lake. She edged the buggy in so close to Tom's that it startled his horse and he had to shrug off Nellie to keep them from falling into the lake. Laura pulled away and slowed Barnum down to a trot, the glint in her eye still sparkling.

"You're a little devil," Almanzo said, trying to contain his laughter.

Immediately embarrassed and ashamed, she apologized. "I'm sorry. That wasn't very ladylike of me."

"No, but it was very Beth-like." He smiled at her.

"Nellie Oleson always seems to get my dander up. She has everything and she flaunts it in my face."

"She doesn't have everythin'." Almanzo glancing over at her. How could she be jealous of Nellie? "She doesn't know anything about horses or farmin'."

"She doesn't have to. She's never had to work for anything."

Almanzo grabbed the reins from her and pulled Barnum to a stop. "And she doesn't have that beautiful reddish-brown hair either. Ya should wear it down more often. It looks real nice."

Laura's face felt warm again. "Thanks, Manly." She was sure he would hear her heart pounding inside her chest.

"Let's go out a little farther before we head back to your place," he suggested.

"All right, just make sure we're not late getting home."

"Don't worry, I wouldn't want your pa hittin me again," said Almanzo as he rubbed his chin.
They laughed. The tension now broken, the light conversation continued until he stopped the buggy in front of the Ingallses' farm. Manly jumped down and walked around to the other side of the buggy. Laura slid her hand into his and stepped out.

"I hope ya had a nice time," he said to her.

"I did. Thank you for taking me."

On weak legs, Laura walked towards the front door. She didn't dare look back at him. She could almost feel his stare pointed at the back of her head. 

Almanzo called to her. "Would ya come with me again some time?"

She turned slowly and struggled to keep her excitement at bay. In her most womanliest of voices she replied, "If my pa allows it, I would be happy to join you any time you wish to invite me."

"Good." He lowered his head to hide his delight. "Just one thing…"


"Don't try to be somethin' your not."

Laura's cheeks dimpled. "I'm sorry, Manly. I thought I would try to be a bit more cultured than I usually am."

"Don't ya know by now that I like ya just the way you are?" Gosh, that sounded forward. "I…uh…I should get goin'."

"Me too," she said, pointing her thumb towards the house.

"See ya, Beth."

"See ya, Manly." She flashed him one last smile before disappearing inside.

He stared at the closed door for a moment, flustered and confused. How could he say such a thing? Now she probably would think he was interested in more than just friendship.

Storm clouds had rolled in on the journey back to town, and a clap of thunder told Almanzo he should head back home. He jumped into the buggy and gazed up at the window to Laura's bedroom. I sure do enjoy her company. He chirruped to Barnum and headed towards his place.

Inside the house, Laura leaned against the front door. She gazed up at the roof, lost in her thoughts. She had ridden in a buggy with Almanzo. He had touched her hand. Had he actually told her that he liked her just the way she was?

"Hi, Half-pint. Did you have a nice time?" Charles asked.

Still staring at the ceiling she answered, "U-huh."

"Is everything okay?"

She sighed. "Everything is just fine."

Caroline struggled to hold back her laughter as she watched them. "Are you hungry, dear?"

"No, Ma. I think I'll just go up to bed."

"It's only supper time," said Carrie.

"That's okay." Laura shuffled to the ladder and climbed up to the loft.

A concerned Charles watched her disappear up into her room. "What do you make of that?" 

"She must have had a good time." Caroline did her best not to smile, but she could feel the corners of her mouth lifting.

"That's what I'm worried about."

In her room, Laura sat on the bed with her Remembrance Book open. She wanted to write everything down while it was still fresh in her mind--as if she would ever forget it. She glanced over at what she had written, and her eyes focused on the last line:

I think there's hope that I'll be Mrs. Almanzo Wilder yet.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.