Remember Me: Part One

We’ve Never Actually Seen a Meatwagon on This Show

(a recap by Will Kaiser)

Title: Remember Me: Part 1

Airdate: November 5, 1975

Written and directed by Michael Landon

SUMMARY IN A NUTSHELL: A deep-voiced lady enlists Charles as social worker when Doc Baker fails to save her life.

RECAP: Oddly, IMDb TV now screws with the order of the episodes, putting “The Camp-Out” before this one. 

But you have to get up pretty fucking early to fool Walnut Groovy, people.

One introductory note: Olive’s friend Lucinda, who had never seen Little House before, joined us for this one. Off we go!

OLIVE: So the premise of this show is it’s a family in rural Minnesota in the 1800s. Laura and her pa are the main characters.

LUCINDA: So is this show extremely racist, or just somewhat racist?

OLIVE: Just somewhat racist.

ROMAN: And sometimes extremely racist.

Coming soon on Little House

We open on a (rather extreme) closeup of some puppies nursing from their mother. 

The mother is a hound dog of some sort, but the puppies are like little fluffy sheepdogs. I think it’s pretty clear who their father is.

These dogs are in a large barn, and a man (Jon Nordstrom?) enters and approaches them.

He puts the puppies in a sack whilst the mother dog whimpers.

LUCINDA: They’re about to become river dogs.

WILL: Are you sure you haven’t seen this show?

The man puts the sack in the back of a wagon, and we get an imaginative shot of the puppies crawling around inside. 

The sad-looking but rather ugly mother dog watches the wagon drive away.

Jack’s ugly girlfriend?

The title, “Remember Me,” comes up as the mother dog fades out of sight. A bit on the nose considering the story we’re about to get, but it is Little House.

I’ll Be Drooling as You Drive Away

The wagon rounds a corner to some very uneasy David Rose music, reminiscent of his Lord of the Ringsish stuff in “Plague.” 

The wagon is pulled, I notice, by Bunny (and another horse).

And the guy still looks like Jon Nordstrom – so far.

Previously on Little House

The man stops the wagon and jumps down. His boots have leather flaps hanging down from the tops: the proverbial bootstraps, I suppose, though we don’t see him pull himself up by them at any point.

The man picks up a big rock and puts it in the bag with the puppies. Like Lucinda, I can see where this is going too.

Uh-oh

Cut to Laura and a strange girl we’ve never seen, running together. Laura cries, “Last one to the pond’s a rotten egg!” (I wasn’t able to confirm this expression is appropriate for the period.)

When they get to the water, they see the man’s wagon is parked there, and oh my God the strange girl is Mary!

She has her hair braided, which we’ve never seen before, and it really does make her look like a different kid.

The man tells them to go away, but Laura hears the puppies whining and keeps asking tough questions.

The man rounds on her, and we see he’s far uglier and scarier-looking than Jon Nordstrom ever was. 

Ack

The grotesque man is played by Jim Goodwin, who briefly had a recurring redshirt role on Star Trek in the 1960s.

Technically he was a goldshirt, but whatever

Realizing what Mr. Farr-Uglier intends, Laura starts screaming at him to let the pups out, but he shoves her away. Then he picks up a stick and threatens to beat them with it.

The sisters run away, and Farr-Uglier pitches the sack into the pond.

(Mr. F-U appears in the credits as “Tyler” – Big Jim‘s brother? Or son?)

The minute he’s gone, Mary and Laura plunge into the water, shoes and all.

This one’s a rather marvelous picture, isn’t it?

We get some surprisingly scary underwater shots as the girls search for the puppies at the bottom.

WILL: This is like the Ben Gardner scene in Jaws.

It goes without saying, I suppose, that Little House on the Prairie isn’t known for its thrilling underwater sequences, so thumbs up, Michael Landon and Ted Voigtlander!

The girls find the bag and pull it to the shore. As others have noticed, when they’re in the water, their shoes and socks disappear, but when they come out they’re back on again.

Laura and Mary can’t hear any sounds from the bag, and they start screaming at each other in a panic to open it.

WILL: Well, they’re either alive or dead at this point. How fast you open the bag is immaterial.

LUCINDA: Yeah, like Schrödinger’s Cat, or whatever.

Mary gets three puppies out, and they appear to be fine . . . but there’s still an unmoving lump in the bag.

For such tough country girls, these two seem semi-hysterical in this scene.

But of course, the fourth lump isn’t a puppy, but rather the rock Farr-Uglier threw in there.

Weeping with relief, the girls hug each other.

OLIVE: That was a really intense opening, even for this show.

That night, the whole Ingalls family goes out to the barn to look at the puppies. The girls have both dried off, and Mary’s hair is back to normal.

Jack is snuggling with the puppies, which I’m not sure a male dog would actually do. (Watch out when they try to nurse from you, Jack.)

The girls briefly discuss Jack’s gender identity. Laura says Jack believes he’s the puppies’ ma or pa, depending on how he identifies. (She’s a country girl, and is well aware of animal anatomy and the facts of life, so I’m surprised it doesn’t occur to her that Jack really is their pa.)

Well, the human pa in the room says they’ll find good homes for the puppies. Mary asks if she can take them to school, but Ma, no doubt remembering the horror of Jasper, says no.

Previously on Little House

Pa says it’s time for the kids to go to bed, and Carrie slurps, “Goodnight, Pa.”

Laura turns around and telegraphs the episode’s theme by saying not all options for orphans are equally good. 

Specifically, she says Nellie, despite her wealth, would be unlikely to provide the dogs the loving home they’d need.

Carrie’s clearly pondering this question very deeply

The next morning, Pa is hitching up the Chonkies for a work trip to Sleepy Eye. He tells Laura Mr. Edwards is going along.

Laura suddenly screams, “It’s the Sandersons!”

And coming down the driveway are a woman, two boys, and a small girl. 

WILL: Roman, see if you recognize the little girl from anything.

ROMAN: It’s Laura Ingalls.

WILL: Not that one.

The boys are carrying books and lunchpails, though we’ve never seen them at school before. (These boys, I mean. We have seen books and lunchpails.)

“Mornin’, Charles,” says the woman in a deep husky smoker’s voice.

She’s played by Patricia Neal, arguably the most distinguished guest star we’ve had on the show thus far. Winner of the Best Actress Oscar for Hud in 1963, she was in lots of other stuff too, including The Day the Earth Stood Still, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the TV movie that launched The Waltons, and Cookie’s Fortune, a minor Robert Altman movie I got a kick out of in the nineties.

Patricia Neal in Hud
Patricia Neal (at right) in The Day the Earth Stood Still
Patricia Neal in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Patricia Neal in Cookie’s Fortune

She also had quite a famous real-life story, surviving multiple brain aneurysms whilst pregnant in 1965 and going on to make a full recovery. (The baby was fine, too.)

Laura takes the kids into the barn to see the puppies, and Patricia Neal moseys up to Charles, saying, “A new addition to the Ingalls family?” in a sort of drawling, “high-class” Southern accent. (Imagine an operatic baritone doing an impression of Blanche Devereaux while stoned.) 

Neal grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee (and was descended from plantation owners). So her old-fashioned accent is probably more authentic than, say, Bonnie Bartlett’s.

Sorry, Bonnie

Why this show puts so many Southerners in Minnesota at this time is a bit of a mystery. I suppose people did move around a lot, but I’d think our horrific climate would be a deterrent to Southerners in those days. It certainly seems to be today!

Charles tells her he’s going to be coming out to their place in the afternoon to do some harrowing for them. (I thought he was going to Sleepy Eye? It’s a 40-mile distance – literally halfway to Mankato – so I would think that would be a day or two’s journey round-trip.)

Patricia Neal says she’d be happy to do the harrowing herself if Charles would let her borrow the Chonkies. 

Charles says, “No indeed – your husband did a lot of favors for me through the years. This just gives me a chance to even things up a little.”

LUCINDA: I assume the husband’s dead?

WILL: Yes.

LUCINDA: See, I’m good at this show.

Others have quibbled it’s an error to have Charles say “through the years,” since they’ve only been in Walnut Grove for just over a year at this point. 

But these well-intentioned viewers make the mistake of assuming the Little House universe moves in Real World Time. It decidedly doesn’t

Based on previous events, we can deduce this story takes place in 1880 (for the moment), which means the Ingallses have been living in Walnut Grove for about six years at this point in Little House Universe Time (LHUT). 

Patricia Neal says she came over to see if she could join Caroline on her morning walk to town. I was wondering, actually.

Meanwhile in the barn, Laura and the Sanderson kids are playing with the puppy. 

The elder boy is about fourteen or fifteen and has that sort of 1970s twink teen-idol look about him. He’s a bit ferret-faced, and looks like he could actually be related to Patricia Neal.

The younger boy, who resembles his brother and mother not at all, is blond and has a roly-poly quality without actually being fat. 

The little girl speaks at a level that is more advanced than Carrie’s, but not by much. And she wears a crazy oversize bonnet.

WILL: Her head’s kind of bulbous. I would say she’s . . . not cute.

OLIVE: Oh, I think she is.

The kids all say they’d like to keep a puppy, but the elder boy says his mom’s got her hands full already with the three of them. 

Anyways, we learn the kids are named John (Junior), Carl and Alicia. And I suppose now’s as good a time as any to go through the actors.

The one playing John has the rather grand name of Radames Pera. (Radamès is the tenor lead in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aïda, about a tragic love affair in ancient Egypt.) 

This Radames is I guess well known to fans of David Carradine’s Kung Fu, though I never watched that.

Radames Pera (left) in Kung Fu

He also had a small role in Red Dawn.

Fan favorite Carl Sanderson is played by Brian Part, who was in a few other things as a child actor and then later became a musician.

And as for Alicia, I’m thrilled to announce Roman did in fact recognize her as Lindsey Wallace from the Halloween series!

Literally NOTHING makes me happier than Halloween people being on this show

Additionally, of course, Kyle Richards is one of the founding Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, for those who like that sort of thing. (Well, I guess she is that whether you like that sort of thing or not.)

Finally, she is sister to Kim Richards, another Real Housewife who is well known to Little House fans as the charmingly disabled Olga Nordstrom, whom we met last season.

Kim Richards as Olga
Kim and Kyle Richards

The kids cook up a scheme where Alicia, apparently the most sympathetic of the bunch, will ask her mother if they can keep a puppy. Alicia says she plans to name the puppy “Mine,” which I think is as good a name as any.

Back outside, Mr. Edwards and Grace Snider suddenly emerge from the Great Marijuana Field. 

The Ingallses’ driveway is Grand Central Station this morning

From the doorway, Caroline waves goodbye, calling “Have a nice day!”, and then Grace repeats it. (This 1970s catchphrase is definitely an anachronism.)

Grace also kisses Mr. Ed, then pauses to give him a goofy grin as she heads up to the house.

I find Bonnie Bartlett far more likable in this story than any other so far

Mr. Edwards and Charles depart for Sleepy Eye to the strains of You Know What.

We then see the Sanderson and Ingalls kids walking to school. David Rose passes the time arranging the Little House theme for the vibraphone.

Caroline, Grace and Patricia Neal are following, and Alicia lags behind with her back turned to them.

ROMAN: Look out, she’s the Blair Witch!

“Alicia?” says Patricia Neal, and I take it back, she sounds more like an operatic bass doing a Blanche Devereaux impression while stoned.

Alicia blathers a bit, then begs for a puppy.

LUCINDA: Oh my God, she has creepy kid teeth.

OLIVE: Wait till you see Laura’s.

Patricia Neal gives in, and Alicia goes running back to the group crying “Mine is ours!” idiotically.

Patricia Neal and Caroline discuss how hard it is to say no to kids (though I don’t find that to be the case). Grace says she doesn’t think she’ll ever have kids at this rate.

OLIVE: Isn’t Grace a little old to have kids?

WILL: I don’t know. How old do you think she is?

LUCINDA: Twenty-seven.

WILL: Bonnie Bartlett? Did you look that up? Oh my God, I thought she was older!

LUCINDA: I was just guessing. . . .

(Actually, Bonnie Bartlett was 46 when this episode came out.)

Caroline invites the other ladies to a picnic at on Sunday and they say goodbye, with Grace addressing Patricia Neal as “Julia.”

Patricia Neal then heads to Doc Baker’s office. She’s having neck trouble, and he examines her.

OLIVE: Oh my God, I thought that was her hand!

“I thought that was HER hand!”

Doc is disconcerted by what he finds.

OLIVE: He’s got kind of a big butt.

LUCINDA: I’ve seen bigger.

“I’ve seen bigger.”

Patricia Neal asks some blunt questions, and Doc goes into his usual spiel where he complains about not having specialized knowledge. 

But she gets him to admit what she’s got is terminal. Sounds like lymphoma, or “Hodgkin’s disease,” as it would have been known then.

Taking this in stride, Patricia Neal asks how much time she’s got. Not much, says Doc.

Doc’s bedside manner isn’t the greatest in this scene. He’s too upset to even look at her.

“Well, I’ll be darned,” Patricia Neal says. 

Or rather, “I’ll be darn.” 

(I couldn’t discover when this exact expression came into use, but darn as a mild substitute for damn has been around since the Eighteenth Century.)

While Doc stands around feeling sorry for himself, Patricia Neal rises with dignity and departs.

Snap out of it, man, you’re a physician

Commercial.

WILL: Olive, you’re not even watching. Lucinda, at this point in every episode I yell at Olive for not paying attention.

LUCINDA: It’s probably me messaging her.

After the break, Patricia Neal stands on a hill looking at what’s presumably her farm whilst a lonely English horn moodily tootles in the background.

She is a really fine actress. Even when she isn’t saying anything, she knows how to command a shot.

We see Charles and the Chonkies are plowing the field.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YOU JUST LEFT FOR SLEEPY EYE!!!

Patricia Neal comes down and says with surprising good cheer, “Oh, you certainly picked a hot day to be a good neighbor.”

The two have a little smiling chit-chat; then out of nowhere Patricia Neal says, “Charles – I’m gonna die.”

Charles is horrified as Patricia Neal brings him up to speed on her medical sitch. 

She struggles with emotion as she says, “That’s a heck of a thing to tell a neighbor.”

She really is great

Charles stares in disbelief.

OLIVE: He needs to wipe his brow.

WILL: And his eyes. 

LUCINDA: And his lips are chapped. They should put pig fat on their lips. Nature’s chapstick.

ROMAN: I’m sure a pig would love to hear that.

Moist Charles

Patricia Neal asks for Charles’s advice about what to do about the children.

LUCINDA: Why is she asking him?

OLIVE: He’s the unofficial mayor of Walnut Grove.

I will say, in those days, I think it would be very unusual for a male “child” of John’s age (Radames Pera was fifteen) not to take over the running of family and farm himself in the absence of parents. One might have expected him to do it immediately after the death of his father, in fact. 

But as we shall see later, John’s not really cut out for the traditionally “masculine” pursuits like hunting, farming and household-running. And I bet Laura can out-fish him like nobody’s business.

John is a master of the sestina, though

Stunned, Charles looks away, but Patricia Neal lets him know she’s not gonna put up with any Doc Baker-type crapola from him.

The two cook up a plan to bring the kids to church on Sunday and explain things to the congregation. Patricia Neal says she likes this proposal because she’d know whoever took her kids would be “God-fearing.”

OLIVE: It’s funny that [SPOILERS] Mr. Edwards takes them, because he’s like the least God-fearing person in town

Previously on Little House

Anyways, Patricia Neal emotes a while longer.

WILL: So, she was married to Roald Dahl in real life.

LUCINDA: Wasn’t he creepy or something?

WILL: I don’t know if he was creepy in a sexual way. I think he was supposed to be an asshole. He might have been racist; he was British.

ROMAN [reading]: Looks like he was an anti-Semite.

WILL: Yeah. British. 

(Please don’t write in in a rage, Anglophiles. My other blog was about Two Fat Ladies, so clearly I’m not completely biased against old crabby racist British people.)

The Neal-Dahls

Anyways, Patricia Neal, realizing that in addition to his de facto mayoral duties Charles is the closest thing Hero Township has to a social worker, asks him to promise to find homes for the kids if she dies too soon to do so herself.

Charles, chapped lips a-tremble, promises at once.

The music swells as Patricia Neal crosses the field with billowing skirts.

LUCINDA: Where do you find a hill like that in Minnesota?

WILL: Well, in Red Wing there’s Barn Bluff. [Also known as He Mni Can.] Lutsen has mountains, but it’s always winter there.

“Where do you find a hill like that in Minnesota?”
Barn Bluff/He Mni Can
Lutsen

The kids come running out to their mom as Charles turns and blubbers. (I’m gonna save my verdict on this one till the end of the second part, but it really is Little House at its absolute melodramatic best.)

We then cut to Patricia Neal stoking up the fire that night. The lighting is gorgeous.

She sits down with the kids to talk about something serious. Poor Carl worries they’re going to be punished for something.

OLIVE: Are those just 1970s pajamas?

“Are those just 1970s pajamas?”

Patricia Neal starts talking about that great comfort of Christianity: the notion people will be reunited with their loved ones after death. Smiling, she gently tells them she’s going to be seeing their late father “very soon.”

“What are you saying?” asks John, looking stricken.

Patricia Neal just looks at him.

John, who we can already tell is a sensitive creature, bursts into tears and cries, “Oh my God, Ma!”

Patricia Neal chides him for The-Lord’s-name-in-vain-taking, which seems harsh.

And yet, maybe it’s just that I’ve been immersed in this squeaky-clean 7+ semi-fictional world for a while now, but when he said that it did give me a bit of a shock. 

It’s worth remembering that, while many of our favorite curse words today do have extremely long pedigrees, in Nineteenth Century America there was still shock value in terms like God, hell and damn. David Milch, the creator of Deadwoodthat (wonderful) show set in the exact same period as Little House that’s famous for its profanity – acknowledged this, saying he chose to use swear words that still shock today rather than authentic profanity of the time:

From its debut, Deadwood drew attention for its extensive profanity. It is a deliberate anachronism on the part of the creator with a twofold intent. Milch explained in several interviews that the characters were originally intended to use period slang and swear words. Such words, however, were based heavily on the era’s deep religious roots and tended to be more blasphemous than scatological. Instead of being shockingly crude (in keeping with the tone of a frontier mining camp), the results sounded downright comical. As one commentator put it, “If you put words like ‘goldarn’ into the mouths of the characters on Deadwood, they’d all wind up sounding like Yosemite Sam.” Instead, it was decided that the show would use current profanity in order for the words to have the same impact on modern audiences as the blasphemous ones did back in the 1870s.

And, having been raised in a conservative Christian church, I can claim some firsthand knowledge of this. We were taught in Sunday school that using “minced” curses like shoot, heck and darn (the latter two of which Mrs. Sanderson uses herself) was every bit as sinful as using the words they’re meant to replace.

To which I say poppycock, but what do I know.

Anyways, Patricia Neal says she won’t have any tears, not when she’s headed for Heaven.

John seems not much comforted by this, but pulls himself together a bit.

The kids don’t like the idea of getting a new family, but Patricia Neal says none of them has a choice, so they’ve got to think about making a positive future for themselves.

She tells them she won’t have them boo-hoo-hooing when she auctions them off on Sunday.

After all, she adds, “You’re John Sanderson’s children, and you got a right to be proud.”

Why not “Julia Sanderson’s children”? Oh well, I suppose John Senior might have been the Charles Ingalls of his day.

John Junior, still looking like he got kicked by a horse (sorry, Mary), nods.

Then Patricia Neal tucks the kids in.

Alicia asks, “Will my puppy go to Heaven if it’s good?” “Of course he will,” Patricia Neal answers.

There is a VERY weird irony about this exchange, since Neal’s real-life husband Roald Dahl completely renounced religion after being told by the Archbishop of Canterbury his late daughter’s puppy would NOT follow her to Heaven.

I wonder what he made of this scene. Maybe Patricia Neal told Michael Landon the story up-front and he added a bit to the script to endorse all dogs going to Heaven.

When we come back from the commercial break, a chicken fills the frame.

WILL: This is a really close-up view of the chicken. I don’t think they’ve shot from the hayloft before.

ALEXANDER [passing through]: It’s a close-up cock shot.

WILL: It’s so nice when you contribute.

“It’s a close-up cock shot.”

Inside the Little House, Laura is saying “Christy’s dad” says they can keep a puppy as well. This goes along with our theory that Christy and her father are the only surviving members of the Kennedy clan.

Remembering Mr. Kennedy is insane, Charles asks if Laura is sure he agreed.

Convinced, he says then she can bring a puppy to church so they can hand him off.

Once Laura’s out of the house, Caroline breaks down over Patricia Neal’s diagnosis.

And now: “Bringing in the Sheaves”!

You know, the cast of this show really should have released this hymn as a single, with “Old Dan Tucker” on the flipside.

In attendance at today’s service are the Ingallses, the Sandersons, Mr. Edwards and Grace, the Olesons, Doc and Mr. Hanson (together again), Miss Beadle, Mrs. Foster and her Bewigged Paramour from last week, a late-middle-aged couple we’ve never seen before, and, oddly, Cloud City Princess Leia. (Odd because she’s not related to anyone in the room.)

Perhaps even more oddly, neither Christy nor Mr. Kennedy are there, so I don’t know what Laura’s going to do with that puppy.

Well, never mind about that now. After the service, Patricia Neal and the kids come up to the front. Patricia warms up her audience with some cracks about how long the sermon was.

Then she hits them with the news. Nels and Mrs. Oleson react with surprise and sympathy. Mrs. Foster just sits primly.

ROMAN: Did Mrs. Sanderson talk to Reverend Alden about this first?

WILL: Well, he didn’t faint. And he’s not screaming in horror.

Patricia Neal describes her kids as “well-mannered . . . as I’m sure Miss Beadle here can tell you.”

Miss Beadle rises and says, “I don’t know who this woman is, but I’ve never seen these kids before in my life.”

Just kidding

But seriously, I wonder why Miss Beadle doesn’t take them? I know why Mrs. Foster doesn’t, they would totally cramp her “lifestyle.”

But I suppose it might cramp the Bead’s for the same reason.

Previously on Little House

Well, Patricia Neal concludes by telling people not to make up their minds right away, and she and the kids file out.

Aldi stands silently, quivering with emotion. There’s a lot of quivering and trembling in this one.

Finally he dismisses them. In another weird turn, Tom Carter, who wasn’t present for the service or Patricia Neal’s speech, magically appears and is seen leaving with everybody. (Was he asleep on the floor or something?)

?

Furthermore, when the camera takes us outside, we see Nondescript Helen and Not-Joni Mitchell, who ALSO weren’t in church, coming down the stairs!

???

Such continuity errors are actually fairly rare on this show, so far anyways.

The whole community’s feeling depressed afterwards, but Patricia Neal cheerfully reminds Charles that they decided to have a picnic after church.

More trembling, quivering, and “what a woman!” face-making from the company.

So they head out to a place called “Grover Oaks.” John Junior actually drives the Sanderson wagon, which I might have thought beyond his abilities. (Don’t get mad at me, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool sissy myself and definitely see John as a kindred spirit.)

Plus I dislike driving

They do drive under some big oak trees – probably one of which is the one Charles fell out of last season.

A lovely shot
Previously on Little House

But rather disappointingly, “Grover Oaks” turns out to be just the same damn swamp that’s previously been called Cattail Lake and Willow Lake.

“Grover Oaks”
“Cattail Lake”
“Willow Lake”

The kids all run around playing Blindman’s Bluff with Charles and Mr. Ed. (I guess the name of the game is properly Blindman’s Buff? I’ve never heard anybody in this part of the country call it that, though.)

Well, Laura sits out, depressed by the idea of death as usual.

The ladies set out the picnic lunch to some warm and happy music on the harpsichord (why?), and Patricia Neal says screw the food, let’s join in the game. 

Grace starts to do what well-wishers in real life often do with people who have terminal illnesses – that is, prevent them from enjoying themselves. But Patricia Neal convinces her.

Neal can’t convince Laura, though.

Rather surprisingly, as soon as Patricia Neal joins the game, Charles embraces and kisses her.

!

Out of nowhere, David Rose decides to revisit his Johann Sebastian Bach-influenced music that preceded Miss Beadle’s horrific buggy accident in “School Mom.” (Call it “The Bead May Safely Crash.”)

Previously on Little House

Laura watches the game with a mix of emotions on her face (well done, Melissa Gilbert).

And later, Charles finds her still moping about.

WILL: You can tell Michael Landon directed this one, since there’s a close-up of his ass.

OLIVE: There’s something for everyone on this show.

“There’s something for everyone on this show.”

Pa and Half-Pint have a little conversation about death and dying. Laura asks how old Patricia Neal is, and Pa guesses “thirty or forty,” which raised our eyebrows a bit. (She was 49 in real life, and of course has a voice two octaves deeper than any of the men on the show.)

“Ma’s in her thirties,” says Laura. (Karen Grassle was 33.)

OLIVE: Oh my God, Laura, grow up, will you?

WILL: Well, all living things fear death, child.

OLIVE: Not spiders. They choose to die after they lay their eggs.

WILL: Oh, don’t believe what you read in Charlotte’s Web. That’s just pig propaganda.

Michael Landon has a big blemish on his forehead in this scene.

Charles then makes his famous speech about love and laughter:

Now, if you spend your whole life worrying about something that’s going to happen, before you know it, your life’s over, and you’ve spent an awful lot of it just worryin’. Hey, you hear that? Now that’s what life’s all about – laughin’ and lovin’ each other. And knowing that people aren’t really gone when they die. We have all the good memories to sustain us until we see ’em again.

The master at work, everyone

Comforted, and it is comforting, Laura rejoins the group.

Cut to pouring rain. Bad weather is never a good omen on this show.

Doc pulls up to the Little House in his physician’s phaeton. Once inside, he tells the Ingallses Patricia Neal is very ill. Charles and Caroline rush out to see her, putting Mary in charge.

If I were Laura, every time they left Mary in charge, I’d put on “Burning Down the House.”

Previously on Little House

At the Sanderson house, we find the Rev is already at Patricia Neal’s bedside.

Not good

They are funeral planning. Patricia gives Aldi an envelope and asks him to read it at her service. Once again, and quite funnily, she needles him about his long-windedness.

He completely agrees, which is sweet.

Good old Aldi

Notably, she asks him to read what she’s written “loud and clear.”

(Apparently loud and clear was around in the late Nineteenth Century, though it didn’t really become a popular saying until the Second World War.)

But maybe she invented it!

Rev. Alden promises he will, adding, “You’ll hear me.”

This one’s a heartbreaker, people

Charles and Caroline come in, and she invites them to sit down. She says – and this will be important later on – “You made me a promise the other day, Charles.” (Italics mine.) (You’ll have to tune in next time to find out why it’s important.)

Charles says he remembers.

Patricia Neal says she’s putting the kids into Grace’s care temporarily, but she’s still leaving it to Charles to find them a permanent home. She says they’ll struggle with the arrangement at first, and stresses he must be “firm with them.”

WILL [as PATRICIA NEAL]: “Beat them if you have to. Use a wire whisk, that’s what I do.”

ROMAN: I like how you have to lower your voice to be her.

“Listen to that rain,” she says. “It’ll be a good crop this year.” (Italics mine again.)

She then asks for the kids to be sent in, and blesses them both. Caroline puts on a brave face, which is nice.

She and Charles come out to what looks to be a very sad party in front of the fire.

WILL: Why is Doc still there? Is he just hanging out till she dies? Is he giving her medicine?

LUCINDA: He’s gotta stay, because he’s the one who will take her away on the meatwagon.

WILL: Maybe. We’ve never actually seen a meatwagon on this show.

ROMAN: Maybe that’s what Mustache Man is always driving.

Previously on Little House

The kids go in to her room, and the camera does its wonderful trick of pulling back through the window (which becomes covered with rain as soon as it does). (House cinematographer Ted Voigtlander was nominated for an Emmy for this one, by the way.)

The magic of television

And that’s it, now we find ourselves at her interment. 

It’s still raining – did they bury her the same day?

?

Others have pointed out you can tell from the shadows it’s actually a sunny day. But whatever, people, it’s a fucking fictional drama.

Just enjoy it!

Alden has chosen Psalm 121 as his reading for Patricia’s funeral.

Then he reads what she wrote for him:

Remember me with smiles and laughter,

For that’s the way I’ll remember you all.

If you can only remember me with tears,

Then don’t remember me at all.

There’s a bit of a question surrounding the origin of this poem. A lot of people on the internet attribute it to the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, though Melissa Gilbert in her memoir said Michael Landon wrote it himself. (Scholars or experts who can unravel the mystery, present yourselves.)

Whoever wrote it, Grace Snider makes a face like it’s the stupidest thing she’s ever heard.

Tell us how you really feel, Grace

Doc and Mr. Hanson are shown standing together. 

These two

“Loud and clear,” the Reverend adds.

And friends, that’s it. I will reserve my “verdict” for Part Two. Stay tuned! Bum. Bum. Ba. Dum.

STYLE WATCH: Charles appears to go commando again.

UP NEXT: Remember Me: Part 2

Published by willkaiser

I live in the Upper Midwest. My name's not really Will Kaiser, but he and I have essentially the same personality.

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