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Our Little House on the Prairie

The actual Little House

The actual Little House

Did you ever used to watch this on Sunday mornings? It was Channel 4’s gooey sentimental filling, sandwiched between The Waltons and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. My brother who is going through a protracted quarter-life crisis, has recently become obsessed with it, filled as it is with the comforts of a poor but caring two-parent family, regular chastening of one’s morals  and plenty of gingham.

So it should delight him to know that the husband and I are due to move into our first American home together tomorrow, a house on a road called Prairie. And just like Laura Ingalls, I get to sleep in the loft!

OK, I don’t know what a prairie actually is but I’m already having visions of running down a hill filled with wild-flowers, my hair in pigtails and wearing gingham (but of course).

Me on Sunday mornings

Me on Sunday mornings

American houses are innately scarier than British homes. OK, so British homes tend to be older, but when you’re on your own in a typical US house there are all these noises… I’ve been walking around trying to find their sources just to put my overactive imagination tot rest.

Evil furnace - they don't normally look this evil.

Evil furnace – they don’t normally look this evil.

I can now sympathise with little Kevin McCallister’s fear of his basement furnace in Home Alone. It just starts whirring in a uniquely macabre tone at the most random moments. And forced air systems are louder than good old central heating. Our wood floors seem to creak and settle way more than wood floors back in Blighty. I actually got the husband to prowl around the house with a baseball bat last night because a combination of the sump pump and creaky floor boards translated into ‘serial killer’ for me.

Or even something worse; remember those strange sounds at the beginning of The Excorcist – suspected rats in the attic that turned out to be Satan? Although Hantavirus poses as great a threat…

The (and rats) laugh in the face of your puny light source.

The devil  (and rats) laugh in the face of your puny light source.

And after watching both versions of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark last year, I have also developed a fear of air vents – there could be a whole race of malevolent little people in there who want you to join them in being needlessly malevolent.

And all roots lead to the basement – those little quirks of mid 20th century American house design, such as the milk box (a small alcove in the wall next to the back door for milk deliveries), laundry shoots and giant ill-repaired air vents, foster echoes and dirges from the laundry room and dreaded sump pump below.

They came from the air vents: the little beasties from Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

They came from the air vents: the little beasties from Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Well I’ve suitably terrified myself in time for bed this evening, so it’s only fair to spread the misery.

Although Little House was an idyllic window into the American pioneer world of the 19th century, the TV show allegedly carries a dark legacy.

A few years ago I read this claim on Find A Death that the set of Little House on the Prairie was built near an experimental weapons plant. The claim alleged that the saintly Michael Landon (Pa Ingalls himself) got the land cheap because he knew of this. Obviously I disregarded this unsubstantiated claim. But a lot of the cast got sick after filming finished, even Landon himself died tragically young of cancer. And I’ve now seen this theory crop up on quite a few sites. It makes me sad to think that even that cosy loft on the prairie harboured death in the nooks and crannies.

Nighty night children. Sleep tight.


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