Chasing Laura Ingalls Wilder: traveling through her world, one homesite at a time

Jim Hicks — Physics in Laura’s World

This is Jim Hicks. Retired now, he was a longtime physics teacher at a high school in Illinois.

His students call him “Uncle Jim.”

Jim Hicks, physics teacher, Laurafan, entertainer

Besides being a physics teacher, Jim is a literary traveler. He has written for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Lore, the newsletter of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, South Dakota. He has written for the Homesteader, the newsletter about Laura’s homesites across the country. He writes about moving through Laura’s world, measuring it, recording it, recreating it. History + literature + science = Jim Hicks.

Six years ago, Jim addressed a ballroom audience in Mankato, Minnesota. For this audience of Little House fans, he reconstructed, in great detail, the trip that Almanzo Wilder and Cap Garland (allegedly) took during the hard winter of 1880-1881, the trip that (allegedly) kept the town from starving when blizzards prevented the trains from coming, as described by Laura Ingalls Wilder in The Long Winter. He talked about sled speed. He talked about wheat-sack weight. He talked about friction. He talked about the phases of the moon. And he had that audience absolutely enthralled for a full thirty minutes.

That’s why he’s an award-winning high school teacher.

He’s an award-winning high-school teacher who also happens to be a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. The audience he spoke to was at LauraPalooza 2010, and in July of 2012, he did the same thing. And then again in 2015.

The next LauraPalooza is in 2017. Will Jim be there? We’ll soon find out!

  1. Reply

    He is one of the reasons that I say I learned things (at LauraPalooza 2010) that I didn’t even know that I needed to know! Fascinating. Can’t wait for LauraPalooza 2012!!

    1. Reply

      @Laura: Jim and Barb’s presentations in 2010 (and again in 2012) reinforced the idea for me that successfully pursuing a microcosm of a niche topic is not only possible, but, when done right, is also fascinating to persons other than just the researcher!

    • Carrie on June 15, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Reply

    I wish I had Jim for my high school physics teacher. Really looking foward to hearing more from him in a few weeks at LP.

  2. Reply

    “If you don’t want to miss it, don’t.” Such words to live by!

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