Guest post by Amanda Morris
When I was very young, probably around ten years old, I bought a Little House Diary from a local bookstore. Each chapter was decorated with a border that was representative of that month. I don’t remember if June had roses – I think there might have been strawberries, actually. I don’t have the book anymore to check. But I think of that diary whenever I see the name of this chapter. I tried so hard to keep a diary, imagining that one day people would care as much about my childhood days as they did about Laura’s. Ah, youth.
Anyway, this chapter begins with a description of June on the prairie, and the beautiful wild roses the chapter gets its name from. But Laura does not get to enjoy them because she is still stuck working in town sewing shirts. She’s not thrilled with this arrangement, but it is worth it to bring home her pay to Ma and she looks forward to that all week.
There’s some foreshadowing here – Laura begins to hope that with things going the way they are and the expectation of her teaching wages in the future, they might be able to put Mary in college soon. She can’t bring herself to ask Ma because she can’t bear the thought of being told it is impossible, but the possibility keeps her motivated while she works in town. Laura is still no fan of town at this point. Her description of it is harsh and ugly, and it feels empty to her without the school friends she made the previous winter.
If there is one thing that leaps out in my memory about this chapter, it is the infamous “Tay Pay Pryor” incident. While Laura is busy at work, she hears some noise outside and sees a tall, dignified looking man kicking in screen doors. He encounters a short, round little man trying to enter the saloon, and they arrive at some unspoken understanding to join forces, linking arms and singing while continuing to kick in screen doors and wreaking general havoc in the town. The last door they kick in belongs to the Wilder brothers. Royal Wilder storms out and gives them a piece of his mind, and the short man announces: “My name is Tay Pay Pryor and I’m drunk!” The two men continue on, chanting the words. As Laura says, “The tall man would not say that his name was T.P. Pryor, but he always came in solemnly, “–and I’m DRUNK!”
To prove that you learn something new every day, I just learned that “T.P. Pryor” was actually T.P. Power, Mary Power’s father. I find it pretty funny that he was her friend’s father. I also remember reading the incident as a child and having it go completely over my head. I couldn’t really visualize it, and I didn’t understand why they were kicking in the doors, or singing. I think I might have even thought that the “My name is Tay Pay Pryor” line was part of a song that they were singing, and not the character’s name.
Mrs. White is mortified that Laura is laughing at the spectacle, saying it is a “disgrace to snakes” what drunk men will do. I kind of like that line. Of course Ma and Mary are not amused when she tells the story at home. But Pa’s eyes twinkle and Laura knows that he understands. I think that was the real takeaway for me when I first read this chapter. I didn’t understand the incident, but I saw that Pa understood Laura. The whole episode told me more about the connection that Laura and Pa shared than anything about the antics of the two men.