Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary Bess and Manly!

These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder tells the story of Laura and Almanzo's courtship and their wedding that took place a few days early to avoid the church wedding his sister and mother wanted to plan.
Almanzo and Laura--Manly and Bess--spent 64 years together--until Almanzo passed away in October of 1949. The First Four Years was a book Laura wrote about the early years of their marriage. It was not published in her lifetime. Roger Lea MacBride, Rose Wilder Lane's heir, discovered the manuscript with Rose's belongings after her death in 1968. A decision was made to publish the manuscript without any editing, so the tone of the book is a bit darker than that of the other Little House books--though it does end on an optimistic note.
Those first four years of marriage were difficult ones. Laura did not want to be a farmer's wife, but she consented to try it for three years. Those were years of joys and years of sorrows. A hailstorm destroys their crop and their debts begin to mount. Their daughter Rose is born and that year they are able to make enough to pay off some of their debts. A hot wind destroys their crops the next two years. They contract diphtheria and Almanzo suffers a stroke. Laura gives birth to a son, who dies a few weeks later. Their home is destroyed by a fire and they are forced to work for room and board at a neighbor's place. But Laura is sure their luck will change.
Eventually Bess and Manly left De Smet, SD and traveled to Missouri, where they built a place they called home for the rest of their lives. Rocky Ridge Farm was where Laura penned her famous children's books.
The pioneering era ended long ago, but the pioneer girl who traveled across the prairie by covered wagon is still remembered. Her books teach us about the history of this country and the many things that make it wonderful. The Little House books display the importance of family, faith, love, perseverance, optimism, and respect. When I had the chance to speak to Dean Butler, who portrayed Almanzo Wilder on Little House on the Prairie, he mentioned how the stories are evergreen. These timeless stories resemble the values that remain just as important today as they were when Laura lived through them and wrote about them.
Happy anniversary Laura and Almanzo. Through your lives, we have learned--and hope to learn--so much.

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