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15 responses to “These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 8: A Cold Ride”

  1. Sarah Manley

    Quick question: were they driving into the wind or was it at their back and does that make a difference when you are in a cutter? I think anytime I am outside and it is below 0, it is cold. Thanks Barb for your thoroughness, great post!

    1. Barb Mayes Boustead

      Great question, Sarah! If I’m not mistaken, the Bouchie school was southwest of DeSmet, right? Observations taken at forts around South Dakota indicate winds were of moderate force and were out of the northwest on January 4, 1884. She likely was heading home with a crosswind.

  2. Tracy Sapp

    In Chapter 8, A Cold Ride- “Prince & Lady started swiftly into the wind. It struck Through all the woolen folds & took Laura’s breath away.” I am assuming this means that they were going into the wind. BRRRR!!!!

  3. naomi

    I’ve always felt sorry for the horses in this scene. At least Laura and Almanzo are wrapped in multiple layers of wool and have a lantern to warm their feet. Prince and Lady just have a very thin coat of horse hair…

  4. Layla

    I agree. Laura was very lucky indeed! :)

  5. Daniel0107

    It is kind of insteresting that historical and meteorilogical research shows that Almanzo was right, that is was about 40 below, and all the things he describes fits a temerature that cold. I lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and can recall colds where it “hurt”, it was so bitter.
    Anyway, an interesting contrast that Laura would rather face this cold ride than the emotional coldness of the Brewster home. Besides, if Almanzo is going back anyway, just bundle up!
    Nice posts, everyone!

  6. BB/VA

    New commenter here!

    I have seen a copy of Laura’s first teacher’s certificate. It can be found on page 25 of the book “Laura’s Album” by William Anderson. It is dated December 10, 1883. She would have been 16.

    This does nail the time frame down a little better. Also, wasn’t the “fictional” Laura a year younger than the IRL Laura?

  7. LauriOH

    Were Royal and Almanzo sharing the feed store that winter? I always wondered why he wouldn’t have milked the cow if Almanzo didn’t get home. Of course without a phone or something, Royal wouldn’t know Almanzo was safe and risk his life looking for Almanzo. Also, the Brewster’s house wasn’t that big, where was Almanzo going to sleep? Speaking of the Brewsters, anyone else wonder what’s going through Mr. Brewster’s mind? His wife tried to attack him with a knife a couple nights ago, and he offers to let someone else stay with them.
    My less than scientific two cents….

    1. naomi

      I thought Almanzo already had his claim by then. But maybe not. Or maybe he was living in town for the winter.
      More to the point, what other stock did he have? At that point he didn’t have any horses other than Prince and Lady, (maybe Lady had a yearling colt?) and the next summer I think he says that he doesn’t have a cow. (And he clearly didn’t have one until [spoiler...] Pa gives them a cow as a wedding gift.)
      Sounds more like an excuse to NOT have to stay at the Brewsters. (Where he would, presumably, have slept on the floor by the stove, wrapped in the blankets and robes from the cutter.

      1. Marybeth

        he did have his own cow when they married…there were the milk pans with that morning’s milk in them when she moved in and saw her pantry for the first time…he might have had other horses, remember he had a side business of selling horses…and these books aren’t completely factual–the actual stock he had may or may not be the same in the real life world….

  8. Michelle

    I always figured (after reading books about the history of the Canadian Prairies) that he’d be put up in the barn. And yes, the “I’ve got stock to take care of” also struck me as odd; he didn’t have any at that point beyond Prince and Lady (so naomi’s idea that it ws an “excuse” makes excellent sense!)

  9. Eddie

    Fabulous post, Barb! Can’t wait to hear more Wilder Weather at LP. I think it was you that recommended The Children’s Blizzard at the last LP? The explanation of hypothermia in that book has made me look at this chapter in a whole new light since then. When you live in a more temperate climate it’s really hard to get your head round the extremes of cold / blizzards etc in the books. We define a cold snap quite differently here!

  10. Daniel Rabe

    I happened to be reading Farmer Boy, and in the early chapters the temperature in Malone, NY on the Wilder farm was 40 below zero. So,Almanzo had lived in that climate before. He knew about extreme cold and what to do about it.

  11. Holly

    He would have slept in the house, never in the barn in that weather. Slept on the floor wrapped in the blankets and buffalo skin robe, as mentioned above. Just like the men did when they were settling DeSmet and the Ingalls put them up in the Surveyor’s House.

  12. Carla

    Great posts everyone! Special thanks to Barb. I’m always gratified when your research proves that Laura was right (my gosh who could accurately remember stuff from 50 years ago! I think other people are WAY too critical, but we all understand, huh? Forget those naysayers.) Anyway, we are so blessed to have technology at or fingertips. It’s sometimes hard for some to remember that research the way we have it didn’t exist in the 1940s. Just think back to the 1980s, as I can. Research was painstaking. Finding out info was soooooo different. I hope that, when I’m 70ish, I can remember stuff as well as Laura did!

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