The love story of Laura and Almanzo starts in These Happy Golden Years, so the title of the book, pulled from a song Pa played, is so appropriate. I really love their love story right down to the end when Laura puts down and never finishes The First Four Years after Almanzo’s death.
There was one thing that I’ve been waiting months to comment on: bombing main in the cutters! After Laura returns from her teaching job, all her peers (and Almanzo) starting cruising up and down main street in their cutters. Almanzo, Laura, Cap and Mary lead the way, but it becomes a very popular past time. As a teenager in small-town South Dakota, I spent hours driving up and down main street, chatting with my friends. I laughed when I realized that Laura and friends were the first (or very close to the first) teens to bomb main in South Dakota. I owe her for more than I previously thought!
Laura spends her school breaks teaching in the country, studying at night to keep up with her regular classmates and riding back to De Smet on the weekends with Almanzo. I really liked how wonderful Almanzo is in this book (or always). Without being asked or told, he guesses that Laura will be homesick, so he drives 12 miles one way to pick her up Friday afternoon and another 12 miles one way to take her back on Sunday. He spent a lot of his time driving back and forth. I really respect him continuing to drive Laura back and forth when she tells him there’s nothing in it for him.
Mary returns home toward the end of the book, sad to have missed so much and to see Laura marry Almanzo and leave them. Everyone, including Laura, is sad that their happy little life is changing, but, as Laura tells Mary, she and Almanzo just fit together. As sad as she was to leave her family of origin, she was excited and happy to be starting her life with Almanzo.
And then comes the small, rushed wedding. Laura in her black dress. Ida witnessing with her beau. It’s all so sweet.
What I Remember
From the first time I read this as a child, I’ve always remembered Laura’s black wedding dress. Ma said it would bring bad luck. It definitely seemed true for the first few years of their marriage, but we know it all turned out well for Laura and Almanzo.
What is your favorite literary couple? Do you love Laura and Almanzo’s love story as much as I do?