Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Remarkably unremarkable.

I poured over a series of books in my childhood.  I couldn't get enough of finding out the mundane details of Midwest American Pioneer life from the viewpoint of a girl who aged throughout the series, going from just below my age to a young married mom.

My formative years were spent reading.  The pages of the books in this particular series became dog eared and the binding on the paperbacks started cracking.  And, similar to the Velveteen Rabbit, the books became living things to me.  I absorbed the day-to-day life details by osmosis since they were incidental to the real (and somewhat autobiographical) stories portrayed in the books.

As childhood slipped away and more sensational authors like Erica Jong joined my list of reading pleasures (nice pun eh?) the pioneer series was shelved.

In the last few years I've thought often of these books.  I even found a book outlining the detailed biography of the author and her daughter.  I was disappointed to learn that the book series I was so fond of was actually a happier version of what really happened in her life and that soon after the 'ending' of the series, the author's life took a few nasty turns and life remained quite challenging for much of her young adult life.  She didn't actually write the books until the onset of her senior years with the encouragement of her daughter who had herself become a successful professional writer.

In the mid-70s, this book series was destroyed [imho] by the turning of it into a long running and horribly inaccurate tv series that continues to deliver residuals to it's producers.  By definition, television has to be remarkable to maintain ratings and on it's own this series just didn't have enough to sustain the 10 seasons it ended up running (and a multitude of spin offs).  I suffered through a few episodes and found the characters horribly misaligned with my firmly implanted characterizations from the years spent reading and rereading these tomes. I actually now point to that series as the beginning of the end of my television watching days.

There is something to be said for ordinary.  How did a pioneer family heat their house?  How did they go 'grocery' shopping?  What happened during the holidays?  How did they talk to their teachers?  What was their dinner time routine?  What happened when family came for a visit?  How did they prepare their food (my favourite parts!)?  How did they socialize with friends?

This is the sort of thing that I found remarkable as an eight - twelve  year old girl.  And over thirty years later, I find  it remarkable at how such unremarkable plot lines continue to resonate in the very core of my being.

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