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Dakota Midday: Historical Society Releases Laura Ingalls Wilder Autobiography

South Dakota Historical Society Press

After much anticipation, the Laura Ingalls Wilder annotated autobiography, Pioneer Girl, is finally getting into the hands of readers. The South Dakota Historical Society Press started shipping it on Monday to readers who pre-ordered the book. It’ll be in stores later this month.

Wilder wrote Pioneer Girl in 1929 and 1930 when she was in her early 60s, but it went unpublished.  The stories in the manuscript were later included in the popular Little House series of children’s books. Pioneer Girl, however, depicts a much less sanitized account of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life than the Little House books.

South Dakota Historical Society Press director Nancy Tystad Koupal joined Dakota Midday to discuss the book. For more information, click here.

Karl was born to northeastern South Dakota crouton farmers, but was orphaned as a toddler during the Great Salad War (1966-67). Rescued by a flock of chickadees, he grew up in the woodlands of Sica Hollow. Legends of a bird boy living in the trees attracted the interest of renowned ornithologist and amateur bandoneon repairman Dr. Vogel Gehrke. With a handful of suet, Dr. Gehrke coaxed the timid boy down from the trees. He adopted him, named him Karl and taught him not to molt on the carpet. Dr. Gehrke’s book, The Bird Boy of Sica Hollow, was a best seller and Karl became a minor celebrity and teen idol. He appeared as a guest star on numerous television programs, most notably an awkward role on The Love Boat as the boyfriend of Captain Stubing’s daughter, Vicki. After critics panned his 1980 album, Bird Boy Does Disco, Karl retreated from public life and returned to Sica Hollow. Living in an isolated tree house, Karl achieved a reputation as a mystic. Pilgrims and seekers from around the world came to ask him about the meaning of life and for vinaigrette recipes. Growing tired of answering questions, he climbed down from his tree, shaved his massive white beard and took a job as the host of SDPB Radio’s Dakota Midday where he could ask the questions instead. After three years in that position, he ran out of questions and became host of Jazz Nightly instead. Karl makes his home in Vermillion with his charming wife Kari and three delightful children, Kodey, Kasey and Spatula. His hobbies include reciting the alphabet, combing his hair and doing volunteer work with delinquent songbirds.
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