Thursday, November 29, 2018

West From Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder

West From Home
Letter of Laura Ingalls Wilder San Francisco 1915
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published 1974

Yay! We're almost done with the Little House stories. This is my second time reading West From Home. Here is a link to my 2016 Post

This little book is so sweet. Laura Ingalls Wilder took a trip to San Francisco, California, to stay two months with her daughter, Rose, leaving Almanzo to care for their farm, in Missouri, without her. Laura corresponded in telegraphs, letters, and postcards weekly and daily, in some cases, with Almanzo, telling him everything she saw and experienced. 

Four days into her trip, Laura wrote, "I wish you were here. Half the fun I lose because I am all the time wishing for you."

Once she arrived in San Francisco, her fun began. She enjoyed the beautiful Pacific Ocean, and she and her daughter "took off their shoes and stockings...and went out to meet the waves." She described standing on the shore and digging holes in the sand with their toes and then running out to meet the waves and back again before a big wave caught them, which they found to be a good time. 

One of the attractions in San Fransisco at the time of Laura's visit, in 1915, was the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a gathering of 24 countries showcasing their grandest exhibitions in art, science, culture, food, engineering, technology, and more.

Of the Kentucky racing and riding horses, Laura wrote:
...believe me, they can all have their automobiles that want them. I would have me a Kentucky riding horse if I could afford it.
Always the horse lover!

Laura had opportunities to experience several boat and yacht rides, and once she and Rose stood up in the very front and "let the spray and the mist beat into [their] faces and the wind blow [their] hair and clothes and the boat roll under [their] feet and it was simply glorious." I could visualize both of them with their arms out, yelling, "I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!"

One thing is certain...they had a lot of fun together. 

Rose Wilder Lane

Probably my favorite part of these letters was the one Rose slipped into one of Laura's, addressed privately to her father, as a heads up to Laura's weight gain. I think I agree with Paula @ The Vince Review as she explained how Rose was just trying to protect herself from blame. After all, Laura was in her care. But as a reader, I understand...she was exposed to so many new decadent foods that she probably would never eat again. One must make room for a few pounds just for tasting. 
I will not take her to the scone booth again. It is always a dangerous undertaking anyway...I am in mortal terror every minute that she will not be able to restrain herself any longer, but will break the glass and eat some of them right there. Even with two scones and a package of Pan-pak and fifteen cents worth of salted nuts and a rosecake and a bag of Saratoga chips in her hand, she still looks at the fish with the same longing expression. 
Laura was very concerned about leaving Almanzo to care for the farm without her. He had one farm hand to help him. In Little House in the Ozarks, a collection of Laura's articles for a local magazine, she wrote that she felt terrible for leaving her husband for so long and would not have minded him having a second wife to care for him and make him food. Now don't develop strange thoughts; Laura was not advocating polygamy. She was speaking in terms of caring for her husband, understanding the great benefits men receive when they have a woman around. Otherwise, how would they feed themselves or remember to care for themselves? This is very true. I went away for two nights, and my husband ate Doritos for dinner. Sad.

Finally, watching how Rose tirelessly worked as a journalist, she wrote to Almanzo:
The more I see of how Rose works, the better satisfied I am to raise chickens. I do not see how she can stand it.
As if working on a farm was not tiresome work; but the difference must have been that Laura loved her little farm. However, I think Laura's life changed after those two months with Rose. When she returned to her farm in Missouri, she would begin her career as a writer, too.

At the end of Laura's two-month stay, she wrote in a final letter to Almanzo,
I love the city of San Francisco. It is beautiful but I would not give one Ozark hill for all the rest of the state that I have seen. 


Sharon Wilfong said...

I want to say I read this a long time ago because I remember the part about Rose telling her father that Laura was getting fat. It may have been one of my sister's books. She was the big Laura Ingalls fan, even more than me. I need to read it again.

Ruth said...

That was really funny. Laura and Rose had a close relationship, but I suspect that Rose was a little sneaky. I get this from some other books I've read about her.

Paula Vince said...

It's such a nice book to get stuck into, so close to the end of the challenge. So nice for all of us that the letters were kept. I'm sure Almanzo looked forward to those letters, but he must have been just as happy to have her back as she would have been to get back.

Jean said...

That last line is because Laura never went to Chico! She would have loved Chico. :)