Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wilder Days

Remember how I said I wanted so badly to go to the Wilder Day festival at Mansfield, but it was impossible as the timing couldn't be worse? Well, that wasn't counting on my wonderful hubby, who made the impossible, possible!

Thursday evening I was just sitting down after the supper cleanup, when he said, "What time is that flight to Missouri?"

"Uh, what flight? We have to get things ready to pack up!"
[Aside: we sold our house, and we have to move! That's a good thing, but it was the main thing that made the timing of a trip so bad. If you're interested you can see our house - er, used-to-be-our house - here.]

"Isn't this the weekend of that thing you wanted to go to in Missouri? The weekend your friend is going to be there? Go get the tickets. I've arranged it. We're going!"

I was out of that chair in a flash! Within a couple of hours I had us packed and ready to go; we grabbed a precious few hours sleep and got  up at 3:00 am to go catch our Friday morning flight. (Part of the reason we had to get up that early is that we live a good 2 hour drive from San Antonio, where the airport is. The other part of the reason is that my wonderful hubby likes to plan to get to the airport a full 2 hours before boarding, "just in case.")

We flew to St. Louis, the closest airport to Mansfield that Southwest flies to, rented a car and drove to Mansfield.
Here's the downside of the trip: it was pouring rain pretty much the entire weekend. It had lighter times and heavier times, but very, very few times that it wasn't raining.
It was about 4pm by the time we got there, and what with the rain and all, the things on the square were folding up and calling it quits.
So we drove around the town a bit, checking out where things were and so forth, and during a time of lighter rain we went to the cemetery.

Here is Laura and Almanzo's gravesite.

I love the mementos that people leave.

Rose is buried next to her parents.

After that we had supper at a Mexican restaurant, which evidently is the only place other than Subway to eat in that town these days, and then we went out to the pageant.

We were plenty early and enjoyed the pre-show music.


It was raining. 
And it was cold. 
It was in the 50's, and to a south Texan, that's downright freezing. I DID check the weather channel before we left, and it said highs in the 70s, so we didn't pack jackets; fortunately we did have rain parkas, but they do not keep you warm.

On top of that, because of the rain, they had to cover the sound equipment, and the (all volunteer) performers did not project well, so we were not able to hear it at all.

It was obvious that a lot of work was put into the show, and the performers did well. But, between the misery of being cold and wet, and the fact that we couldn't hear it, we just couldn't take it. We left at the intermission and went to our hotel in Marshfield.

Saturday was "Wilder Day." We went out to the homesite where most of the events for the day were planned.

The playing of Pa's fiddle by David Scrivener was fabulous. 

He knew almost every song requested - and would even play the ones he didn't know if you'd sing the tune for him to follow. Naturally, I requested Pa's favorite, In the Sweet By and By. I reckon that old fiddle has played that tune many a time, and it was a marvelous experience to know that I was hearing the same song(s) on that same fiddle that Laura and her family heard so many times.

There was also a lady who played the organ. This was in the home, of course, so no photos to be had, but it was very nice.

This was my first trip to Mansfield, so I just soaked in all the details of the home that Almanzo and Laura built.

I pointed out to hubby all the little things I had read about - such as the height of the cabinetry, and the story of how she begged, pleaded, demanded, cajoled, and finally cried to get the big stones that make the front of the fireplace.

Since it was that one special day in all the year, we got to go upstairs for a peek, too.

Sadly, no photos are allowed inside, and since it was pouring rain I didn't trek around it all outside, so this one will have to suffice.

I have to admit that, having read all about how Laura designed and built the home just to suit a farm woman, and didn't like the house that Rose built, I was determined to be loyal to Laura and like that home better than the rock house.

Erroneous. False. Incorrect. Wrong.  

That little rock house is one of the neatest little houses I have ever seen! (And I'm a Realtor - I've seen a LOT of houses.) 

The outside is cute, but it's the inside that captured me. I love the doors especially - possibly the back "Dutch" door even more than that gorgeous front door. And the closet doors, too. Although they were built that way to be sturdy and not warp, I love the way they look. And how about all those little drawers! Yep, I've got some ideas for when hubby builds our next house! Too bad I couldn't take any pictures of them.

Charlotte Stewart was there. 

Because of the rain, there was a depressingly low turn out for the event - but that meant there was no line when I went to see her. We got to have a nice conversation while she signed my Beadle Bag again. (It was the same one from Walnut Grove. This time she added "Teachers Rule.") She is such a sweet person. And, I've mentioned before, I love the fact that she recycles materials to make the bags and she donates 10% to the Wellness Center for breast cancer (lots of cancer, including breast cancer, in my family). She is going to make my "Concordia Mom" t-shirt into a purse.

Bill Anderson was also there. I think I made him mad. He was taking photos in the museum (where normally no photos are allowed), and I said to him, "We peons couldn't get away with that." I was just teasing, but I don't think he knew that, and he was quick to explain, rather irritatedly (is that a word?), that it was for the newsletter. Sorry, Bill!

And I heard rumors of Cheryl Harness but never saw her. I don't know whether she wasn't able to make it or I just never found her.

There was supposed to be a parade, but it got cancelled on account of the rain.

So we headed over to Laura'sSweet Memories to look around while we waited for Marie's  presentation.
Jim has the neatest shop. It is located in the oldest home in Mansfield - one that Laura visited many times for one of her ladies' clubs. Jim has collected many mementos and souvenirs of Laura and her family and the town and its history. We spent quite a while looking at it all. We also got a chance to visit with Freda, a cousin of Almanzo. She has quite an interesting history herself, and she's so sweet.

And then, of course, there are all the goodies! Yummy!  

But the highlight on this special day was that Laura Ingalls Wilder visited and shared some of her sweet memories! 

Marie Tschop of All Things Laura Ingalls Wilder did an absolutely splendid presentation. 
I was enthralled, even though of course I knew all the stories she was telling. She has a real talent for drawing in the audience. The children were completely entranced, and even the men in attendance were spellbound! 

After that it was time to head back to the big city. We never even went to the square, so I don't know what goes on there. There wasn't anything much this day due to the weather.

All in all, it was a great day for those who went to Mansfield, despite the rain. We got to see the home Laura and Almanzo designed and built, the rock house, and the museum; hear Pa's fiddle and the organ (and a dulcimer - I forgot about that!); even see some celebrities. And how neat is it that I got to see my friend "Laura" appear with a cousin of Almanzo and a cousin of Laura in a home that Laura really visited?