April 21st…“WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK(S) YOU EVER READ IN YOUR YOUNG DAYS?”
Whether the stitching is by intricate coloring of words, or the fine craftsmanship in the needlework of a seamstress, both an excellent book and a magnificent quilt are kindred spirits. Each one is created in intricate wonder by either one threaded stitch at a time, or one wonderful word at a time. Each one can keep you warm, either in your heart or physically there in your comfortable bed on a frozen Winter’s night. Such a pairing led to the beauty that I experienced as a young boy with our beloved mother and even as a young man in the year of 1974.
Our beloved mother read many books to us as children and I cherish those memories. But, to name a favorite book, I’ll fast forward the time machine to the year 1974. I was 20 years young and stumbled across a book that led to a series of “best books” that blessed me AND my children. Back in the 1970’s, some of you older readers may recall the fine television series called, “Little House On The Prairie”, which was very popular at the time. During this season of my life, I was employed with the Battle Ground School District. I worked the evening “Swing Shift” as a “Floor Scrubber’s Helper”. On one particular evening, we were scrubbing the tile floors in the Library at Laurin Intermediate School.
As I was slowly pushing my battery-powered scrubbing machine past a row of bookshelves, my eye was captured by the title on a book that had the same name as the TV show that I had recently enjoyed watching…..”Little House On The Prairie”. At the time, I had no idea that the TV show was based on these series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. After a quick flip through its pages that evening, I was driven by curiosity to purchase my own copy of the book and began to read and read and read. I became happily addicted to this very talented lady’s writing style that described her and her family’s adventures while growing up during the latter part of the 1800’s. Her gift, as a writer, would transport me back in time to see, feel, hear and even seem to smell all the wondrous things she encountered.
Once I had gleefully relished “Little House On The Prairie”, I just had to have the entire series for my own. I consumed each volume with baited anticipation of following her stories into the next book and the next. After I finished the series, my hunger for anything “Wilder” was satiated by seeking out any and all peripheral reference books that were written about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. After purchasing it for my collection, I thoroughly enjoyed a songbook with all the songs from her books. Each song had been historically researched and even contained guitar chords so I could sing the songs to our children and the students at the school where I worked as a custodian.
Here is where the kindred spirits of quilts and books comes into play. I counted it as one of my sincere joys in this life to have read the entire “Little House” series of books to our five children…..TWICE! On many a chilly evening, we’d cuddle under one of the quilts my mother made (or their other grandmother made) and be warmed both physically AND in our hearts by these grand stories from a bygone era. I would embellish some of the characters with animated voices and even could sing the songs as we came to them in each story. What magical times those were!
In the Summer of 1998, while on vacation to the Midwest, I had such fun to be able to take the family to pursue our common love of “Little House” by stopping in DeSmet, South Dakota. For the Ingalls family, this town was to be the last stop in their legacy of life travels. Pa Ingalls built a handsome two story home there for he and Caroline to finish out their life together. Our young family had the joy of touring that home and then, we drove to the other side of town to tour the house that Laura wrote about in the book called, “On The Shores Of Silver Lake”.
Later, that same day, we drove out to the south side of town and visited the local cemetery. Most of the Ingalls family are buried there. We even discovered other graves of neighbors and dear friends that Laura mentioned in many of her stories.
Next to God’s Holy Word, these dear writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder are the favorite books of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.