Wouldn’t you love to have been in the room while Almanzo Wilder told his wife Laura Ingalls Wilder the stories she included in Farmer Boy? When Laura published the book in 1933, she was 66 years old and Almanzo was 76. They had been married for 48 years. I imagine that he had been telling her those stories over those many years. Still, I can imagine that Almanzo had many sweet times while Laura was writing and asking him questions. I imagine that he remembered specific incidents he had not thought about in a long time.
For decades Ray and I have slowly devoted ourselves to visiting all of the places that Laura and Almanzo lived while they were growing up. We have loved going to those sites because that is where Laura and Almanzo lived the stories.
When we went to the home where Laura and Almanzo spent most of their married lives (Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri), it was precious to be in the place where she wrote those stories down. Our tour guide took us into the room where Laura wrote her stories in longhand. She showed us the tiny bed where Laura lay down when she got tired when writing late at night. She told us about Almanzo coming to spread a quilt over Laura when she lay down all tuckered out.
I think it was at Rocky Ridge that we first learned about Almanzo helping Laura with the details about his father’s sturdy barns. Almanzo drew diagrams of them for Laura. The diagrams were so accurate that when the historic preservationists in Malone reconstructed the barns, they found that the diagrams Almanzo drew matched the foundations they discovered–almost exactly.
Those diagrams and the conversations between Laura and Almanzo as she wrote Farmer Boy illustrate the power of what you do every day. The experiences of Almanzo’s childhood stayed with him. His experiences and the teachings of his father and mother helped to mold the man he became. They have helped generations of children learn the moral and historical lessons that Farmer Boy teaches.
Almanzo’s father and mother live on in the stories that he told to Laura. Your work will also live on in your children.
My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
Bind them continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
When you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.