‘Little House’ cast reunion

The sun was shining and the temperature was warm as I headed to Walnut Grove last Friday. I decided to volunteer at the “Little House” cast reunion that day, and I was curious to see what the weekend would bring. Nine of the stars from the show were scheduled to be there, and fans from all over the country and even a few from France and Australia were converging on the banks of Plum Creek.

I had made a pit stop at the Casey’s in Tracy to grab a pastry and a beverage for breakfast. I go to start the Jeep, and it was barely turning over. Oh-oh. This can’t be good. I managed to get it started, and to tell the truth, I had second thoughts about going to Walnut Grove. But I decided to chance it; I’ll see what happens.

So I park on a side street in Walnut Grove away from most of the action, figuring I’d leave close-by parking for the visitors. I put on sunscreen and bug spray and tried to start my Jeep to see if it would start.

It didn’t.

I thought it could be the alternator. I really don’t know the different between a bad starter or a bad alternator. Either way, I needed to figure something out. So when I got to the city park and found fellow volunteers, I told them of my dilemma. I was advised to find Dean, who ran D&M Repair. I had the number to the shop but wasn’t getting an answer. Well, I’ll just get going with the volunteering, nothing I could do until I got in touch with him. I put on my volunteer T-shirt and set to work.

Honestly, being new to the cast reunion volunteer gig, I wasn’t sure what I was doing. But I made the most of things. The first autograph session was set to begin at 9:15 a.m., and there were already several folks lined up, clutching their books, DVD sets, photos for the stars to sign. The longest lines were for Alison Arngrim (Nellie) and Dean Butler (Almanzo).

A little after 9:15, a shuttle bus pulled up, and the stars started making their way toward the autograph tents. A cheer rose in the air as their names were announced. People were excited to meet the actors from their favorite show.

After trying to get a hold of Dean by phone, I was told he’d probably be at the Legion. So I headed across the street, walked into the Legion and asked for Dean. He walked up to me, and I said “I need your help.” I explained my situation, and we went to the side street where the Jeep was parked. After listening to it, he figured it was a bad starter. He tried a couple of things before telling me that he could get me a starter in Tracy and then put it in, on that Friday. I was kinda surprised I would be up and running in the matter of an afternoon, but I was extremely grateful to him.

After the first autograph session, the cast members were going to a special luncheon with fans who bought advance tickets. The luncheon had sold out in the two hours after it was announced. As for me, I had an egg roll from one of the local food vendors. I make a point of visiting that particular vendor when I come to Walnut Grove’s festival.

I stayed busy either putting barcode stickers on the back of photos of Radames Pera (John Jr.), fetching things from the museum down the block or whatever. It started to rain for a few minutes in the afternoon, so there was a scramble to move photos that were not quite covered by the canopy. Then it got warm, real warm. That’s when we started selling more and more bottles of water. Despite the heat, the fans were steadfast, eagerly awaiting their turn to get items autographed and a chance to interact with Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle), Pamela Roylance, David Friedman and Lindsay Kennedy (Sarah, Jason and Jeb Carter) or Wendi Lou Lee (Grace Ingalls).

It was the first time Roylance, Friedman and Kennedy have been to Walnut Grove. Since “Little House,” they’ve kept busy. Roylance said she still gets acting jobs and also teaches senior fitness, yoga and Mat Pilates. Friedman is in sales/marketing and works for an educational technology company. Kennedy co-owns a couple of restaurants in Los Angeles. And from the sounds of things, they enjoyed their visit to the prairie.

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