Her-Story Merit Badge, Expert Level, Part I

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,428 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,782 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

For this week’s Each Other/Her-Story Expert Level Merit Badge, I settled down for a long nap, lovely weekend of my favorite thing (after snack food): reading.

Ah, books, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways:

  • You are portable. No more boring bubble baths, late dentist appointments, or tedious business meetings. Not when you have a book.
  • You smell delicious. Did you know book smelling is a thing? Yep. It’s not just me with a strange addiction. There’s even a perfume for us novel sniffers: buy it here, or a roll-on oil for bibliophiles: buy it here.
  • You take me away to strange and fantastical places, all from the comfort of my own cozy chair.

Of course, there are more reasons, but time to get to our badge, Madge.

To earn my Expert Level badge, I needed to read two biographies, one featuring someone from the 1800s and one from the 1900s.

My trusty librarian at my side (Some people have replaced their friendly local librarians with an app like Goodreads or Amazon and the like, but I prefer my librarians to be of the flesh-and-blood variety. Call me old-fashioned.), I picked out my first book …

Pioneer Girl, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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I knew I wanted to read more about ‘Half-Pint,’ my favorite and bestest girlfriend of my childhood. Naturally, we had never actually met, but I feel Laura and I would have gotten along famously, had we only been alive at the same time in history. Of course, there are simply scads of biographies written about my Bestie, but I wanted the info straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Ah, Bunny! Laura’s trusty steed would have liked me, too. I just know it.

I ate up Pioneer Girl like it was going out of style. Some interesting facts I learned about her:

  • Pa’s nickname for Laura was his “little half-pint of cider, half drunk up.”
  • She was quite small, only 4’ 11”. “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” -Shakespeare.
  • It took 65 years for Laura to become a published author, in 1932 (she was born February 7, 1867).
  • She was told writing fiction for children was a waste of time. Good thing the stubborn farmgirl didn’t listen!
  • She wrote all of her books on both sides of yellow tablet paper, in pencil, in order to save money and conserve paper.
  • The Little House books have never been out of print since the ‘30s.
  • Today, the estimated worth of the Little House fortune is $100 million. The heir to the fortune is Abigail MacBride Allen, the daughter of Roger Lea MacBride. Roger was Rose Wilder Lane’s business agent and lawyer. He was also the 1976 Libertarian candidate for President and a co-producer of the Little House on the Prairie television series.
  • Laura met Almanzo, her “Manly,” in a hay field, after she was cutting through the field on a shortcut. He hollered at her to get her attention. How romantic?!
  • In 1891, Laura accidently burned their house down. Oops. This makes me feel much better about my own cooking skills.
  • Her daughter, Rose, was also an intrepid farmgirl in her own right, known for being independent and strong-willed. During World War II, she flat-out refused the government’s ration cards, and instead grew all her own food. She also quit writing during that time to reduce her taxes. She knew the value of a dollar!
  • When Little House in the Big Woods was finally about to be published, the publishers made Laura change the ages of herself and her sister, Mary. They said no one would ever believe two such little girls had so many chores and responsibilities and adventures!

Still eager for more Half-Pint facts? Read her Little House series, autobiography, diary entries, watch the television series starring Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landen, view documentaries, take a road trip to all the places she lived and traveled to, go to their museums … why, there’s even a full-length musical about Laura and a Japanese anime series!

New life goal: become so important that someone makes a musical and/or a anime series about me.

Leave a comment 10 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Little House on the Prairie were a big part of our lives when my second daughter fell in love with the books. We had every related book about Wilder and the books including paper dolls. These stories are timeless and when they catch on with a young girl, they are all consuming. We have many fond memories of reading these books together and playing with the paper dolls.

  2. Elisabeth Perkins says:

    I love everything Laura! One day I hope to take a roadtrip and see some of the sights I have read about! We love watching the TV series too! I have had the original series for a while and just recently obtained Pioneer Girl. I love the large pictures in it.
    Fyi, small typo. Michael Landon 🙂 not Landen

    • Mary says:

      My dream trip has always been to follow the journey of the Ingalls Family and Laura!!!! There is actually a conference in Mansfield MO called Laurapalooza! I try to read my Little House books every couple years. When my kids were little every night they all piled in bed and we read through the books. They are all avid readers now!

  3. Karlyne says:

    A musical? Really?!? Why didn’t I know that?!

  4. Krista says:

    I would like to read this book and learn some more. I have heard about the Little House on the Prairie and all the books, but have never gotten around to reading them or watching the show. Now I know I’m really out of the loop. This book will be added to my list of books to read along with all of her books!

  5. BB king says:

    I played ” little house…” constantly as a child and even built my own ( ok jury rigged) conestoga wagon. The books were Very influential for me and a great escape from my difficult childhood.

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