As an Editorial Assistant with the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, I enjoy many aspects of my job. One of the things I like the best is working with the editors here at the Press, whether on an article for South Dakota History or on a book. When the Press began the process of publishing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography, Pioneer Girl, I worked with another staff member to transcribe Wilder’s handwritten story into typewritten text that we could easily work with on computer. I must admit that I did not read the Little House books as a child (I am in the minority, I have discovered), so having the opportunity to read her autobiography first and then compare that to the Little House books has been one of the projects I have enjoyed most.
Today I came across this passage from By the Shores of Silver Lake, in which Laura describes the southern migration of birds: “All those golden autumn days the sky was full of wings. Wings beating low over the blue water of Silver Lake, wings beating high in the blue air far above it. . . . The wings and the golden weather and the tang of frost in the mornings made Laura want to go somewhere. She did not know where. She wanted only to go.” Having grown up in eastern South Dakota, I know what she saw and how she felt, but I hadn’t recalled that fond memory in years.
I find Wilder’s memories of her childhood amazing—especially as I get older and my own memories fade. I am regretting not reading the Little House books when I was younger. But now that I know what I missed, I look forward to giving the books as gifts to my grandchildren (someday), and reading them together will be something I know we will both enjoy.