Malone, New York, had already been incorporated for 55 years when Almanzo Wilder was born in 1857. Today Malone has almost 6,000 residents. Ray and I spent the night there the night before we visited Almanzo’s childhood home.
On our way to the homestead, we passed the county fairgrounds in Malone, which is in Franklin County.
The flags of the United States, New York state, and nearby Canada flew above the entrance.
Yesterday morning when I sat down to begin this post, I read once again the “County Fair” chapter in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, and once again I was reminded why I love these books. Many years ago my friend Arlene told our young Bethany not to let her childhood go by without reading Little Women. With the same feelings Arlene had for Bethany, I encourage you not to let your homeschooling years go by without reading Farmer Boy (and the other Laura books, too) aloud to your children.
The Wilder homestead is a good little piece from the village of Malone. According to Farmer Boy, on one frosty morning the Wilder Family dressed in their Sunday best (except for Mother who was going to help with the church dinner and wore her second-best) and drove in their buggy that good little piece to the county fair.
In the buggy were the canned goods and embroidery Almanzo’s sisters were entering in the fair. Mr. Wilder had taken Almanzo’s milk-raised pumpkin in the wagon the day before because the pumpkin was too big for the buggy.
When the Wilders arrived at the fair, it was bustling with buggies, wagons, and people, also dressed in their Sunday best. While Royal joined his friends and Mother and the girls headed to the church’s fairgrounds kitchen, Almanzo and his dad explored the fair together.
These scenes from the “County Fair” chapter in Farmer Boy are good examples for modern mamas and daddies.
- When father and son headed off together at the fair, Mr. Wilder asked Almanzo what he wanted to do first.
- When Almanzo saw some of his friends, he stuck with his father. Almanzo wanted to be a farmer like his dad when he grew up. What interested his father interested him, too.
- When Almanzo was frightened by the first mules he had ever seen, the crowd around the mules laughed at Almanzo, but his father didn’t laugh. He explained to Almanzo what they were and told him that he wasn’t the only one who was scared.
- Mr. Wilder admired the Belgian horses and said that they could pull a barn. When Almanzo pointed out that they didn’t want to pull a barn and that the kind of horses they already had (Morgans) were strong enough to do what they needed to do, Mr. Wilder told him, “You’re right, son!” Talking about horses with his father made Almanzo feel grown up.
- On the day of the pumpkin contest, father and son went together to the place where judges would decide who would be the winner. During the tense scene while the judges decided, Mr. Wilder stood with Almanzo. When a judge put a blue ribbon on Almanzo’s pumpkin, his father clapped his hand on his son’s shoulder.
Like Mr. Wilder, wise modern mamas and daddies honor their children by respecting their desires. They are the kind of people their children want to be with. They share common interests with their children. They explain new experiences and reassure their children when they are embarrassed. They discuss things with their children and respect their children’s views. They go out of their way to help their children accomplish what is important to them. They celebrate with their children when they succeed. Even with all their many responsibilities, they have time for their children.
But when Jesus saw this,
He was indignant and said to them,
“Permit the children to come to Me;
do not hinder them;
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Truly I say to you,
whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it at all.”
And He took them in His arms and began blessing them,
laying His hands on them.