I remember being vaguely disappointed by pictures of the real family too. Pa looked like a member of ZZ Top, Ma was fat and kind of severe-looking, and Mary wasn’t all that pretty, like Laura made her out to be. I thought Laura was cute though.
I think Laura is the best looking one in the family. After years of reading about Mary being so beautiful, I was disappointed with her. Although, I do remember reading somewhere that she'd had a few illnesses as an adult and they left parts of her face distorted. Oh, and the picture of Carrie, Laura, and Mary (the one where Laura is tightly clenching her fist) taken shortly after the Long Winter, Mary's hair is dark like Laura's. It's always been said she had "golden" hair that Laura envied.
I worship these books. I've read them approximately 26 million times. Like some of you, I sometimes wished I could go back and live in those times. (I remember thinking the birthday party with all the cool kids in Little Town on the Prairie sounded fun and gosh I wish I could be friends with that Cap Garland!) But then five minutes later, I'd snap back in to reality and realize you couldn't pay me to live in those times. Can't vote, have very little rights, all that manual labor, be expected to have babies and that's it, etc. Meh.
As I got older, I delved more into Laura's real life, read a few biographies, and was interested to learn a few things. Sorry if this has already been talked about here (I'm too lazay to scroll back) but I was interested to learn that:
--Laura had her eye on Ben Woodworth originally. She also found Cap Garland pretty intriguing. Almanzo later grew on her.
--The character of Nellie was actually a culmination of three different mean girls that Laura came across. I'll have to find the particular book I read that in (it actually named the other girls), but apparently, as she sat down to write the Little House books, she decided it would be better for the stories if she stuck to one villainess.
--Laura was apparently quite a dish in the town of De Smet. In addition to Almanzo liking her, there was a young lawyer in town who had his eye on her, too. He was too chicken to ask her out directly, so he tried doing it through Pa and it didn't work.
--Almanzo had two other siblings besides those mentioned in Farmer Boy. There was Laura, the oldest and Perley Day, the youngest child. Apparently, Laura Wilder worked as a seamstress right along with Laura Ingalls in De Smet. In order to avoid the confusion of having two Lauras in the family, Almanzo nicknamed Laura Ingalls "Bess", which was a variance on her middle name, Elizabeth. That escalated into Bessie and "Mama Bess" as her own daughter Rose use to call her in the later Little House books.
--in interviews and verbal conversations, Laura called her parents "Mother" and "Father", but when writing, she referred to them as "Ma" and "Pa".
Edited by Liquidsunshine, Jan 3, 2004 @ 9:48 PM.