When you’re in the presence of Laurafans, Bonnet Heads, the Laurarati, etc., you might likely come across some words that you don’t recognize. Indeed, the world of severe Laura fandom has a language all its own that for the uninitiated, would appear to lack context. Here’s a cheat sheet to the terms that get thrown around:
Al-MAN-zo. See this post.
Big Slough. Yes, it still exists. It’s in De Smet, between town and Ingalls Homestead. Pronounced “slew.”
Bonnet heads. Like Deadheads or Trekkies, the name given to Little House uberfans. Since I’m not a fan of sunbonnets (I know, the horror!), I prefer the term Laurarati, which may or may not have been coined by The Wilder Life author Wendy McClure.
Dugout site. In Walnut Grove, the place you can drive to (not that far outside of town, but you do want to drive) to see where the Ingalls dugout is believed to have been located. There’s no cost to go there, but donations are recommended. There’s a place to donate on the way in.
Ed Friendly. Genuine Little House fan who started the Little House TV show with Michael Landon, but left when the show started going off the rails, story-wise. We love Ed Friendly (RIP).
Homesite. What we call all the places Laura lived throughout her life. She has several of these homesites throughout the country.
Hoover. A researcher’s paradise. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, thanks to Rose Wilder Lane’s connection with Herbert Hoover, holds the largest collection of Wilder/Lane materials in the world.
Highway 14. Running east to west across southern Minnesota and South Dakota, this road is also called the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway” and essentially connects Walnut Grove to De Smet. Also referenced in Laura biographer John E. Miller’s book Looking for History on Highway 14.
Laura. Fans of the book series tend to call Laura Ingalls Wilder “Laura.” Not Wilder, not Laura Ingalls Wilder, just “Laura.” I don’t quite know why. We just do.
Laurafan. Similarly, this phrase has become one word in the world of Little House fandom.
LIWMS. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, located in De Smet, South Dakota. Arguably the most well known Laura memorial society in all the homesites. The Society in De Smet runs a gift shop and provides tours through the Surveyors’ House and the house Pa built in town.
The Musical. Back in 2009 and 2010 Little House on the Prairie: the Musical went on a national tour, starring current Broadway stars Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey as Laura and Almanzo respectively, and TV Laura Melissa Gilbert as Ma. (Kara and Kevin fell in love on set and are still together and I will tell everyone about this forever because I love their story THAT MUCH. I also wrote about them twice in the newsletter I published for ten years, the Homesteader.) Rumor has it the musical will have new life, with different stars, starting in fall 2012.
Pageant. Outdoor, evening plays, the best-known of which are in Walnut Grove and De Smet. De Smet’s is far more casual while Walnut Grove’s is a full-blown production; both are worth seeing for different reasons.
Pioneer Girl. The unpublished manuscript Laura Ingalls Wilder submitted for publication before she wrote the Little House books. It was soundly rejected (lucky for us). (The website “Pioneer Girl” is different; it’s run by Nancy Cleaveland, a full-time Laura researcher who knows more about Laura Ingalls Wilder than anyone ever on the planet–even, I daresay, Laura herself. If you have a few hours, I suggest visiting there.)
Rocky Ridge. The name Laura gave her farm in Mansfield, Missouri, where she moved with Almanzo and their daughter rose in 1894.
Third Street house. The house Pa built in De Smet (on Third Street, natch) after he proved up on his claim and the family moved to town for good. (Yes, they did!) Both Ma and Pa lived there until the end of their lives. (Incidentally, it’s just a few doors down from Prairie House Manor, a lovely bed and breakfast in De Smet.)
Ingalls Homestead. Not to be confused with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society (LIWMS), which handles tours of buildings associated with the Ingalls family and houses museum artifacts, Ingalls Homestead is the actual quarter section Pa homesteaded in the 1880s. It’s located just outside of town and is an experience all its own–particularly fabulous for children.