Saturday, July 31, 2010

So, it was 116 years ago this month that Charles & Caroline Ingalls and their four daughters were all together for almost the very last time, in this house here, this house that "Pa" built. He played his fiddle out on that porch. Laura & Almanzo, a.k.a. Bessie & Manly Wilder & their 7-year-old Rose, came to visit before heading off to Missouri in the summer of 1894. This was - did I already tell you this, Phantom Reader? This is a picture here of the Ingallses' little house on Third Street, De Smet, South Dakota, one of the stops I made on my summer junket, pretty much selling Laura Ingalls Wilder Coloring Books out of the back of my car.
This link will take you to a couple of coloring pages which you can download, samples from my LIWCB. You'll see that it's not your usual C.B., dear P. R. I promise
Still, it occurs to me that it's been 25 years now, since I got into the bookbiz, almost 21 since I quit my day job. 40+ books later & here I'm peddling self-published coloring books around the landscape and having a fine time doing it. Aiming my little red hoopie down long highways between Mankato, a.k.a. Deep Valley, Minnesota, where storied little girls of my grandmother's generation used to play. Maudie Hart and Bick Kenney [There's a Betsy-Tacy Coloring Book, too, she pointed out, with pride & a bit of rue. It really is pretty, my B-TCB, dear P. R. , no foolin' You'll be able to get one for yourself through my website or at that of the Betsy-Tacy Society. Coloring and reading a bit of well-written kid-lit is therapeutic. ] ; then over to New Ulm, that little German town, to share what I know about writing and drawing with young writers and artists. They didn't care so very much. What they wanted, understandably, was praise. Yeah, yeah, yeah, kid, you've got talent. Really. I might have told them that a god-given knack was only part of the equation, only the beginning, and the artists who once lived in the lovely old house wherein these heedless squirts were messing about surely would've agreed with me that youth is wasted on the young.
Speeding along, listening to a fine reading of O, Jerusalem by Laurie R. King. Driving into De Smet, South Dakota, on a Sunday morning. Stopping to visit the Ingalls Homestead Oh, go there, any of you, if you happen to be going thereabouts and I'd say that even if the very nice, good looking & enterprising proprietors hadn't ordered 4 doz. more of my CBs. Then drive on into town and see where Ma lived out her last years, in that grey house on 3rd St..
Shaking hands with a hardy storekeeper [ ]& thanking him for carrying my you-know-what. I sold one to a customer then and there, a good-hearted grandma.. A certain Mr. Loftus used to keep store there in that very shop, there on the main drag, Calumet Avenue, in the 1880s - no way him knowing that a teenaged neighbor, one of Ingalls' girls, would grow up to write about their town, that pilgrims & strangers would come there, knowing about him & his neighbors long after they all were in their graves.
Back into Minnesota, past rolling fields, hills, wondrous green from all the rain. Across into Wisconsin, stopping for a bag o' cheese curds & another of Fritos, over to Oshkosh - what a swell little town and what a far out exhibit of paintings by Norman Rockwell, an artist whose work I completely admire. It's downright heartening to peer up close at a master's brushstrokes, gleaming & precise.
A week ago? No, nine days, maybe it is now since I was standing on a platform in the Moravian Church at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin, [a glorious place. I'd say it and mean it even if Linda Mattson and the other marvelous, clever, and attractive people there weren't carrying my CB in the Gift Shop.] talking to folks about books, the writing [researching, drawing, painting] and reading of books, mine and Laura's. Trying w/ some success to make people laugh... According to the souvenir booklet, if I remember correctly [be dubious] the church's cornerstone was laid in 1852, when Chas. Ingalls was 16 years old. Caroline Quiner, his future bride, but 13. Later on, I'd be heading home, driving south, not so very far from where she lived once upon a time.
I think it was Garrison Keillor [oh, the acres of bleached white cardboard I have painted whilst listening to his voice over the radio] who said once that an artist may be out of a job, but she's never unemployed.
I think I shall paint a picture today.

1 comment:

  1. I want to go with you next time and be your assistant peddler.