The Barry School

cabin-1081733_1920I’m not entirely sure what short story wronged me in the past that has my hair on end when I encounter a book of short stories. Finding out A Little House Sampler was a collection of articles between Rose Wilder Lane and Laura Ingalls Wilder originally had me expressing sighs all too audible in the library. It’s the editor William T. Anderson that assisted my Eeyore like state into couch cuddles with a cup of tea. I would suggest anyone reads this book post Laura biography not simply the series. There are some fantastic articles that fill in some of the gaps between Little House books and some of the timeline merges with more imagery. My favorite thus far is “A Bouquet of Wild Flowers” thanks to Laura’s memories of the Barry School she attended in the Big Woods.

William T. Anderson’s introductions are crucial in some articles including this one. Without preempting the timelines and history the average reader could be lost if their only biography of Laura was gleaned from her children books. Not anyone reading this blog obviously. Since anyone reading a blog on Laura Ingalls Wilder probably has read more biographies then her/his friends and family want to hear about. The except below shows off William T. Anderson’s ability to weave history through memory.

“The log house near Pepin once again sheltered the Ingalls family on their return to Wisconsin 1871. This was the home place Laura lovingly wrote about in Little House in the Big Woods. The childhood setting filled her memory with visions of panthers, wild deer in the woods, lush, wooded hills, and the coziness of the snug cabin occupied by Pa, Ma and the girls. 

The Barry Corner schoolhouse down the road from Pa’s cabin first sparked Laura’s lifelong fascination with reading and writing words. Mary was six years old when she proudly trotted down the road to school, leaving Laura bereft. The school records indicate that Laura Ingalls was a visitor to Anna Barry’s classes. When she was five, Laura started to attend school regularly. 

In 1917, when she was a regular writer for the Missouri Ruralist, Laura was reminded of her school days in the Big Woods. Almanzo’s proffered bouquet of Sweet Williams from the Rocky Ridge woods brought memories of the little school among the leafy trees. And as she want to do, Laura wrought memories into words and shared them with her readers. “A Bouquet of Wild Flowers” appeared in the July 20, 1917 edition of the Ruralist. ” pg. 15

Wilder, Laura Ingalls, Rose Wilder Lane, and William Anderson. A Little House Sampler. Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 1988. Print.


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