What Jenny's Reading

{May 11, 2015}   Pioneer Girl, Pt 7: Laura Ingalls: Square Dance Snob, Dater of Fools Named Ernie, and User of Magical Sleigh Rides

So I’m back and feeling a lot better from the Flu of Death, which just doesn’t want to let go.  Anyway, I’m thinking that I should start scheduling blog posts.  I’d thought about this for awhile but was afraid it would seem like work, and this blog is supposed to be fun.  But I want to try it for a bit and see if it helps keep me more focused.  So, starting next week I guess, we’ll do the following:

Saturday: Swatch Saturday – either nail polish stuff or other makeup swatches;

Sunday: open day, maybe for makeup techniques or something, if I decide to post (I won’t always);

Monday – Tuesday: book review;

Wednesday – Thursday: television recap;

Friday: Shakespeare play review.

I’ve wanted to start doing more Shakespeare reviews.  I pulled out my Norton’s and the first one I’ll do is Measure for Measure.

Whew, this will be what?  Four, five posts a week?  That seems like a lot, but I will try and see how it goes!  If you guys have any suggestions for books you’d like to see me review, leave them in the comments!

Now to part 7 of Pioneer Girl.

A bunch of the girls and Ma’s friends try to persuade Laura to join something called the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She didn’t want to, and says she had no good reason not to join, just that she found the whole thing distasteful. Well, that’s a pretty good reason, I think. The footnotes say that this group was all about no alcohol or whatever. I’m with Laura. Fuck Prohibition. What good came out of it?

Well, I guess this organization also talked a little about the woman’s right to vote, and since Laura thinks voting is boring I guess that’s why she found it distasteful. Whatever, Laura. I’m with you on the no alcohol thing though.

I think she babysits during the meetings, the way she used to in Walnut Grove. The people she worked for, the Barneses, were super pious. I guess at one point Mr. Barnes didn’t make it back on a Saturday from wherever he’d been, and someone commented that maybe he’d come back the next day, Sunday. His wife had a shitfit, because I guess traveling on Sundays is totally fucking FORBIDDEN, like I’ve read the Bible and honestly don’t remember seeing that anywhere. Seriously, I’m so done with these people and their stupid churchy bullshit. I know someone who acts just like that and she is so insufferable. I can’t imagine living in a whole town of that garbage.

Oh, but the funny part is that Mr. Barnes did come back on the Sunday train, and there’s no discussion at all of how wicked and evil he was for doing so. I guess everyone else was all, no big deal, you crazy church lady.

And then Laura goes on a date. I know! Not with Cap or Almanzo. I KNOW! This guy’s name is Ernie Perry, and he takes her to some party. There was square dancing (BARF) and a kissing game. What! A kissing game?????? And nobody describes it, just like it was no big deal. Seven Minutes in Heaven on the Prairie????? And then he took her on a sleigh ride through the snow! So she wasn’t a sleigh ride virgin when Almanzo came to pick her up that one time!

After this incident, she refers to him as “Ernest,” which I think is very funny, like way to class up the guy who sounds like he probably looks like Alfalfa’s ancestor. At least, that’s what I think of when I hear the name Ernie. So Laura goes out with him again, and likes it less than before, and people were gossiping about the two of them. She decides not to see him again, and is also upset about him putting his arm around her in the buggy. LIKE THE TIME ALMANZO DID YOU REMEMBER WHEN SHE SPOOKED THE HORSES? I’m so mad this hilarious incident was with some rando guy named Ernie!

Laura refers to herself as a snob in the footnotes to Rose, because she didn’t like the square dancing parties. Well, if she’s a snob, so I am. I’ve actually been to square dancing parties, and they were the pits.

It occurs to me that if I’d lived during Laura’s time, I probably would’ve been an outcast, at best, and possibly burned at the stake. All because I hate church and square dancing.

So Laura tells him she’s not interested in going to the party, and tries to spare his feelings. Then she says something along the lines that the gang surprised her with a party at her house, like how could that have fucking happened, and then Ernie went further West. She infers to Rose that he didn’t marry for a long time because he’d been so in love with her. I’d make a joke about Laura being full of herself, but let’s be honest here: Laura is pretty fucking awesome. I believe some guy would be hung up on her for years.

At the stupid revivals, Laura was noticing Cap and the Wilder brothers more than she was noticing church. She specifically mentions she was noticing Cap, like seriously girl, are you pretending Almanzo was some sort of consolation prize? Well, Almanzo asked to walk her home, and she found out later that he and Oscar had made some bet where he’d ask a girl to walk home with him, but he’d gotten the specific girl wrong. Is this a ’90s teen movie? Will the part of Almanzo be being played by Freddie Prinze Jr.? Is this all going to end with a synchronized square dance-off at the town hall?  (Me, from the future: Sadly, it will not.)

Maybe Almanzo was just being coy. He apparently didn’t give a flying fuck about the bet, and saw Laura home on several occasions afterward.

Of course, now the fun is over, and Laura has to go teach school. At age fifteen, which was too young, because again, fuck those child labor laws. Interestingly, the apparent allowed age for teachers at the time was eighteen, not sixteen as she said in the fictional stories and in the autobiography. I wonder if maybe she was misremembering, or if she was trying to make it seem not so bad, like she wasn’t too far away from the correct age. Not that it would’ve mattered when she wrote it, of course. All of those people were probably dead.

So I was wrong, there was a real Clarence at the school. She seemed to like him, though; she says he was clever and quick-witted, and that he finished his studies very fast. He tormented the other kids, but Laura didn’t seem to think that was too bad. Also, he did what she told him, but somehow was always rebelling. I’m not sure what she means by that? If he did what she told him, maybe it was his tone, when he spoke?

Laura’s sort of a bitch here. She’s okay with Clarence sticking a pin in one of the other students, Charles, because he was so dumb. I mean, I have surely thought something similar in my time, but I was never in charge of those people, you know?

The home life with the Bouchies (Brewsters in the books) is just as fun as she made it out in the fictional tale, so she is thrilled when Almanzo comes to get her on Friday. She’s still calling him “the younger Wilder boy” at this point, so I guess they’re still pretty unfamiliar with each other. Even though he walked her home all those times! Maybe he should’ve complemented her on her history retelling. Maybe then she would’ve remembered you Almanzo.

Laura gives Almanzo the same speech she gives him in the fictional tale, about how she’s using him to get home and not interested at all. Funny enough, this comes a paragraph after she worries that her dark hood makes her look very unattractive. Also, Almanzo responds to this by telling her there’s still quite a bit of school time left for her anyway. Ha!


He’s totally wooing her here. He’s totally banking on her falling for him during these magical sleigh rides!!!!

Either that, or he’s being a dick and reminding her how much longer she’ll have to stay at the Bouchies’ home. I prefer the wooing thing, though.

Enough of this quasi-romance, though. Now for some wisdom from Ma and Pa! Laura’s still having trouble with Clarence, and asks for help. Pa advises her to do nothing, since she can’t really punish him since the only punishment he’d accept is whipping, and she can’t whip him. Well, again I ask, why can’t she stand on a desk and do it? Am I missing something here? Also, why does he have to “accept” a punishment? Fuck that guy. Punish him however you want, Laura! Hell, kick him in the balls if you’re too short to whip him. He won’t forget that!

Ma also advises Laura to do nothing, and to just “manage.” So the parentals are telling her to stick her head in the sand and wait for the problem to go away. Yep, I have no idea why Pa hasn’t been more successful, if that’s his idea of a solid coping strategy. The fact that it seems to work really should have no bearing on this.

The knife incident happened, too, and there’s no real explanation for any of it. In the footnotes, it states that Rose expanded on this story in one of her fictional works, and it appears that the real Mrs. Bouchie suffered from depression. So I guess that could explain a lot about her attitude.

For my life, I will never understand Laura’s hesitation in telling people about the knife incident. I mean, she was worried about quitting her school and not getting another certificate. Was knife pulling something that happened a lot back in those days? Why couldn’t she tell people that her family was worried for her safety since Bouchie clearly couldn’t handle his wife’s illness? Why is this such a horrible reflection on Laura?

Then, finally, school is over! Laura is so happy to be going home, but she does notice how quiet “Mr. Wilder” was. Well, yeah, dummy, his foolproof plan to make you love him failed! Of course he’s upset.

Oh, and the end of the chapter talks a bit more about Clarence. Laura says that several years later, Almanzo ran into Clarence, who expressed gratitude for all Laura tried to teach him and said that he didn’t understand, at that age, what she was trying to do. He was a firefighter, and apparently died shortly thereafter saving people from a burning building.

God, Laura tells stories like Elliot Reid, right? “And then, [person in story] died horribly.” Okay then.

Also, THIS IS ALL FUCKING FAKE. The footnotes say that none of this is at all possible, because during that time period she references, Clarence had apparently gotten into a fight with one of his brothers, and threw something at him, and the brother DIED. So Clarence and his mother (I guess she was involved in the fight?) were convicted of second degree manslaughter. And he didn’t die rescuing people from a building, but from a hunting accident. LIES, LAURA INGALLS WILDER. WHY SO MANY LIES????

You know what? I think maybe she had a little bit of a crush on Clarence. Maybe she tried to make him sound better than he really was.

And now I am super confused. I Googled “Clarence Bouchie” and it turns out that he was Tommy Brewster, and that Isaac, his older brother, was Clarence Brewster, in the books. The fuck? Both Clarences had the same attitudes and Laura struggled in the same way with them both. Which was Tommy in the books? The little kid? Then what the fuck was she on about, then, being too small to whip him?

I don’t know what’s happening here, guys. It’s like when the internet tried to convince me that dress was white and gold. Moving on!


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