The father, dressed in the plain clothes of a prairie farmer, stood looking up at the open door of the hayloft, where his young daughter sat with her legs dangling over the side.
The young, pig-tailed girl, who wore a simple calico dress, was holding a small Bible. She was troubled and had sought comfort within its worn pages.
The little girl had befriended an old man, Mr. Amos Pike, who had spent years as a recluse in denial of his wife's death. As the father listened intently, the girl expressed hope that Mr. Pike would also turn to the Lord's word for help.
Sound like a scene you've seen yourself? It probably does if you're a "Little House on the Prairie" fan. I saw it the other day as I was trying to find a weather report on television. The episode, I discovered through an Internet search, originally aired in late September 1975, during the show's second season. I was just a toddler then, but I've seen that episode more than once in re-runs over the years.
"Little House," based on the series of children's books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was the long-running family drama of my childhood. It began in 1974 and ran for eight seasons, followed by a season of a spin-off show.
It was a great family show. Its themes were serious. The show addressed issues like racism, bullying, adoption, child abuse, rape and even drug addiction. Religion was also a central theme of the series.
What happened to cause the disappearance from TV of folks like the Ingalls and their neighbors in Walnut Grove? Sure, you can watch the reruns. But wouldn't you love to see the airing of a new, true family drama?
I want to see a modern show in which folks who have values are featured, instead of people who have none. Wouldn't it be nice to again see family values, faith and love in the spotlight? Wouldn't you like to see a show in which profanity isn't bleeped out, but doesn't appear at all. (What's the point in bleeping it out, anyway? We all know what they're saying.) How bad has it gotten when we can hear profanity on morning news shows? (Remember the Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton incidents?)
Is it a case of television producers deciding what we watch or simply giving us what we want to watch? That's a debate too big for me to conquer.
I do know, however, that I miss Charles Ingalls and his little prairie family and all that they stood for.
(Paula Tate is the Editor of The Dickenson Star, Clintwood, VA)