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Sanford the Scene of 'Little House' Hoopla

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wild about Wilder - A large crowd recently converged on the Sanford Museum to attend a program about famed children's' book author Laura Ingalls Wilder. The remembering Laura presentation was artfully delivered by Sarah Uthoff. Sarah, dressed in a vintage costume, presented the program in character as Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1931...just before her first book was published. Photo by Ron Flewelling
On Sept. 18, it was "Great Shades of Little House on the Prairie!" around the environs of the Sanford Museum as guest Humanities Iowa speaker and trundlebed tale teller Sarah Uthoff dropped in to present a program on beloved author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's tales, based on the adventures of her family back in the homesteading days of yore, have entertained several generations of both young and young at heart readers since the first book in the series was published in 1932.

Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter and These Happy Golden Years are seven of those books that chronicled Wilder's adventures growing up on the edge of the frontier in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's books have spent the past several decades charming the socks off readers of all ages...and winning the prolific writer four Newbery Honors awards in the process.

(She was also the recipient of the very first Laura Ingalls Wilder Lifetime Achievement Award.)

Besides the series of books, Wilder's entertaining memoirs have found their way into several made-for-television movies as well as a popular long running television series.

Sarah Uthoff is an Iowa native who has been enchanted by anything and everything about Laura Ingalls Wilder since she was first introduced to the Little House books way back when.

Uthoff freely admits to the fascination she has held for the children's book author...so much so that many of the happier memories of her own early years included playing Laura in little plays, visiting "Laura" historical sites and learning to do things the old timey way that Laura would have done them on her family's farm.

As the years progressed, Sarah went off to the University of Iowa and earned both a BA in History Education and Masters of Library Science degrees.

Uthoff's interest, however, in all things Laura has not abated over the years.

A lot of that time was spent doing original research on the life and times of her favorite author, being actively involved with living history events and serving as the featured speaker at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Remembered Day at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Bend.

She has also taught continuing education classes on Laura Ingalls Wilder at two community colleges and oversaw a training session for the staff at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Bur Oak, Iowa.

Uthoff's Cherokee program, which was sponsored by the Sanford Museum Association, was titled "A Long Way Home: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder."

Sarah Uthoff presented a slide show that depicted many of the historical sites in several states where the Ingalls family lived.

Uthoff's presentation of the program was both outstanding and unique.

She narrated the Little House odyssey in character as Laura Ingalls Wilder circa 1931.

Sarah also had plenty of visual aids on display at the event, all historical items that seemed to have jumped right out of the Ingalls tales.

The popularity of Laura Ingalls Wilder could easily be evidenced by the ages of the near standing room only crowd on hand for the presentation.

Scanning the faces in the audience, you couldn't help but notice that the ages of those present ran the gamut from youngsters to teens to senior citizens...pretty much ensuring that all the Little House hoopla will undoubtedly be around for at least the next seven or eight decades.

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