Who hasn’t read or watched little house on the prairie? Who hasn’t pictured themselves set in the idyllic backdrop of the open plain, trading and catching up in a perfect town. Making a made from-scratch meal for your hard-working, faithful husband while the children safely fish in a stream with a homemade pole? Even now I feel that is some of the appeal of the Amish, a simple and safe uncomplicated way of life.
A couple of weekends ago, my family and I hitched up the ‘olde Chrysler town and country and headed to the Fort Dodge Fort Museum. It was opening day and the admission was free. There isn’t much to do in this small town (population 20,000) that is family and budget friendly. This “museum” actually consists of the original fort built-in 1800 something and some of the outbuildings are original to the time period and town.
The girls were running ahead and giggling with glee at the thought of pretending to be Mary, Laura and Carrie and I was cautiously and begrudgingly limping behind (healing from a broken ankle). I struggle a little with folk that really get into the time period, dress up, pretend you’re a Civil War “solider” as an adult “thang” – but what the heck…
I notice as I enter a structure that is supposed to be a home for a family of 5 or 6 that the top of my head almost touches the ceiling joists. I’m 5’8″, not that tall — surely the men folk must have had to walk around like the hunchback of Notre Dame? The living room/dining room/kitchen/ laundry room/family room/mud room is about 10×10. Think of new homes being constructed today. Each child has a bedroom with their own bathroom and there is a great room so you can have space to sit in the corners looking at your ipad/iphone/ds/tablet/android/3ds/kindle/kindle fire/etc; I digress..
There is a steep and narrow ladder that leads you to the “upstairs” or loft. I see a double mattress on the floor and few pallets for all the children and a cradle. I wouldn’t be able to climb down or up to bed with the baby as I am afraid of dropping infants down stairs and I have knee problems…
Next in line off a dirt trail is the “church”, a little bigger than the “house”. The pews are no more than wooden bleachers and low to the ground. Think about your church with its cushy pews and hot coffee in the foyer.
The general store has a scary poster of a man covered with small pox warning you to get vaccinated. I can’t stop sneezing because musty mold and probably remnants of small pox is permeating the air. Lucy looks at me, looks at the row of old Rx bottles and says “Ma, if I was born back then – I’d be a goner”. I say “Lucy, life was so hard back then and the medicine and operations we have now didn’t exist back then. Most of us wouldn’t have made it”. I think to my self, no wonder everybody died at like 40, they worked themselves to death and lived in 3rd world country conditions.
Thank God for advancements in the arts and sciences, thank God for being born in the 21st century and the next time you watch little house, thank your lucky stars that you aren’t an Ingalls!