by Sandra Hume and Erin Blakemore
Sandra: Sigh. Literaries.
Erin: The chapter title does not bode well, folks. One would almost think that Ma had got a hold of a Dickens serial or an edifying work of Mr. Bulwer-Lytton. No such luck. Instead, we look upon a sigh-worthy vista indeed…a winter with…wait for it…no snow.
Sandra: We’re slouching towards Christmas, and it’s the opposite of last winter. No snow. Zilch. Nada.
Erin: Irony alert! But guaranteed to make a teenage girl without a lunatic fringe to comfort her a trifle…antsy.
Sandra: Bleak is the word. Rows of samey samey days. Laura’s not even looking forward to getting the stealth Christmas present book of poems. But it’s Friday night! And Laura has had it! She slams her book on the table. OMG, a real teenager!
Erin: In brilliant contrast to the grown-too-soon girl we witnessed twisting hay last year around this time.
Sandra: I love the term “wooden swearing.” Remember Pa’s “Well I would swear, if I did”?
Erin: I think of this term at least three times a week when catching myself before cursing in public. Crafty of Ma to point out that it’s the thought that counts
Sandra: But Pa’s the soother, especially for Daddy’s girl. And then Ma gives in (sorta) and says OK, we’ll stop studying, and Laura can read a story in one of the Youth’s Companions.
Erin: As if this embarrassment of riches weren’t enough, Pa swoops in like a hero. Looks like the Ingallses aren’t the only ones with cabin fever!
Sandra: What do you think he said to the men around the stove at Fuller’s? “Gosh dang, my angsty teenager sure is driving us crazy tonight. Any ideas for getting her out of the house?”
Erin: He had only to mention the wooden cursing and they organized in a jiffy! Goshdarnit.
Sandra: They all walk with their lanterns to the school. For some reason I really like picturing this. A band of lighted families down Main Street, just looking for fun on a Friday night. And EVERYONE’S going. Fuller even closed his store! Heck, everyone closed their store. Par-tay in De Smet. Oh, wait. Not so fast. Clewett bums everyone out by trying to have an election.
Erin: Easy to forget that parliamentary procedure was all some gentrified folks had to cling to, back in the day. What do you say? Pa objects?
Sandra: Pa speaks in favor of casual Fridays. Who needs officers? Go Pa! But shoot … there’s no agenda. I love how “the barber” suggests singing. I’ve never noticed the barber before.
Erin: Singing school foreshadowing!
Sandra: Oooooo. Decision made, and teams are picked for a spelling match. Pa (of course) and Gerald Fuller are captains. Why didn’t we pick teams at LauraPalooza?
Erin: Don’t worry. I still would have won.
Sandra: There’s a tense few minutes when the scene of every elementary kickball game is played out in the schoolhouse. Pa picks Laura before an adult – Mr. Foster. This will prove prophetic. Dumb Mr. Foster. Scared the antelope away. Almost made Almanzo lose Lady.
Erin: Yes, our girl Laura knows how to hold a grudge.
Sandra: First guy to go down is an adult: Mr. Barclay spells “hero” “heroe.” Sorry, Dan Quayle! Excitement grows. Toes on a crack in the floor, hands behind backs. The lines grow shorter on each side, first one team, then the other. Close game.
Erin: As if participating in a real live De Smet-style bee at LauraPalooza wasn’t enough, the experience of standing inside the actual schoolhouse in De Smet was electrifying when I visited last summer. I’ll admit, I looked at every crack in the floor and thought of the room packed with people, all livened up and excited at the simple thrill of competition among neighbors.
Sandra: I came in third.
Erin: It’s spellin’ time. The little kids fall quickly to the wayside, as do the more backwards attendees. Laura and Ma (differentiation, repetitious) hold their own. Foster busts it out, prairie style, lording his momosaceosity (sp?) over Ma AND Miss Garland. Jiminy Christmas!
Sandra: Anyone else think it’s a BIT over the top to have Pa and Laura the last folks left on his team?
Erin: Then again, if Laura’s going to be a schoolteacher, shouldn’t she be able to get to the back of the speller?
Sandra: Good point. But I guess her grip on her mental view of the last speller page is not so firm. Darn “xanthophyll”! And then it gets Foster. But not Pa. Thunderous applause for the winner!
Erin: Ah, I am reminded of my own winning streak at LauraPalooza. The pregnant pause…the last word, “heinous.” The sweet smell of victory and a LIW sweatshirt I cherish to this day. Oh, what? We’re still going? Um…oh, that Pa. The town’s celebration sends a chill through the tips of everyone’s BEARDS and down to their BONES. Whooops…foreshadowing.
Sandra: What kind of guy can spell down the whole town? A heroe.
Sandra: I came in third.