Authors Emily and Hilda Demuth on a plank road!
- Emma, an “unknown Laura” and Olivia on the plank road at the Dousman Stagecoach Inn
Though Hilda might deny it, I believe we were giddy with delight when we first walked along the plank road by the Dousman Stagecoach Inn. Never before had we been able to point to a plank road when describing our book to potential readers.
The “Days Gone By” event sponsored by the Elmbrook Historical Society put us right in front of an inn along a plank road and even provided girls running about in prairie dresses. In truth, the girls were dressed up for a Laura Ingalls Wilder contest–but we couldn’t help but think of our characters Katie McEachron and Florence Mather when we saw them. Unfortunately, one of our Lauras in the photo got away before we could identify her.
Spending an afternoon in Brookfield, Wisconsin, among people who keep history alive warmed our hearts, despite the chill of the day that made signing books difficult. Many thanks to the volunteers at the Inn, and to the parents who brought their children to the event. Someday those children will be the ones passing our shared history to future generations.
Among the many books that Emily and I read and reread during our childhood were the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We are looking forward to celebrating this favorite author’s Wisconsin heritage when we appear as part of “Days Gone By” at the Dousman Stagecoach Inn in Brookfield, Wisconsin, on Sunday, October 4.
In paging through my copy of Little House in the Big Woods, I realized how much Emily and I had been influenced by Wilder’s depictions of pioneer life. Wilder’s book has chapter titles like “Summertime” and “Harvest,” and the rhythm of the seasons shapes Plank Road Summer as well. Pa Ingall’s fiddle-playing is echoed by our Old Man Caswell, and the dancing at Grandpa’s house in the Big Woods is, of course, the same kind of dancing that the Yorkville settlers enjoyed at the Mather Inn and the Racine County Fair.
Visitors to the Days Gone By tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder sponsored by the Elmbrook Historical Society will have the opportunity to play games that Laura or her parents would have played, churn and make butter, learn how to card and spin wool, listen to storytellers read from Wilder’s books, and enter a Laura Ingalls Wilder costume contest. Other activities will include a scavenger hunt, demonstrations of sharpshooting and woodcarving, and tours of the Dousman Stagecoach Inn, which once served travelers along a plank road.
Emily and I will be on hand with our antique wool drum carder, ready to sign copies of Plank Road Summer or just have a chat about the pleasures of reading and writing about Days Gone By.