Post 24:
“Child of Pain”

Post 24: “Child of Pain”

From 13-Year-Old Anne’s Journal —

December 2, 1982 – FAIR

“An aclcoholic (sic) man was beating his son. So Caroline babysat the son, while Charles babysat the man. They reformed him and everything was OK.”

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From Tracy —

I love young Anne’s comments about babysitting. Frankly I was surprised at how modern their approach was with the creepy and belligerent Mr. Stewart. They try an intervention (in the church), a sober companion/life coach (Charles) and damn near everything else. I found myself wanting them to just lose their shit and tar and feather him in the middle of town. In fact Doc Baker does say that if they weren’t so “damn civilized” they should horsewhip him. Of course this is quickly followed by him saying that the father needed their help too.

Substance abuse pops up all the time in Little House and it isn’t surprising since they were filming the 1880s in the drug-soaked 1980s. It must have been so surreal to be in a sunbonnet in the afternoon and then snorting cocaine in a disco club in the evening.

Yes kids, substance abuse was definitely happening on the set of LHOP. I swore I read somewhere a long, long time ago that Ma (Karen Grassle) had a really bad cocaine habit by the end of the series but I can’t find mention of it now. Let us pray my memory is faulty on that account. There is this chilling report from Half Pint about her own alcoholism as an adult:

“I’ve realized his (Landon’s) influence on me extended beyond the set,” she wrote. “As a kid, I didn’t know he sipped vodka from his coffee mug … but I’m sure he’s one reason why, as a young adult, I almost always picked men who smelled like alcohol.”

Yikes.
Steady on . . . Gilbert also says that Landon never got out of control. She however did:

“She realized she had a problem after passing out drunk in the dog bed while a friend was over for dinner. She later sought help from a therapist and attended AA meetings to get sober.”

Well I know more than a few dog beds that have looked very comfy but then again I also love my Irish whisky a bit too much. Anne however is a complete teetotaler so I am curious as to her reaction on this episode.

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From Anne —

Yep, it seems like everyone was rumored to be an alcoholic on the LHOP set. A 1981 People Magazine article (which I think I had a hard copy of in my scrapbook) re-circulates a National Enquirer rumor that Melissa Sue Anderson is a “Little Souse on the Prairie.” (She denies it and says her favorite drink is Tab).

Agree with Tracy that the drunk character in this episode gets a whole lot of high-quality treatment. In real prairie times, I’m thinking the dude would have been put in an asylum in Mankato. But maybe the kid would have been taken in by a family like the Ingalls.

Landon (and Victor French, who directed this episode) were huge fans of tough love. But I thought Pa should have taken the guy to his homestead and had the guy repair his fences – i.e. put that hard labor to better use.

I was still scared at the end – still didn’t trust Stewart. Had a bad feeling he was going to go back to his place and force his son to watch while he eats the kid’s new pet chicken. Perhaps torture could be his new hobby. It all depends on the quality of Pa’s therapy, I guess.

Don’t think I don’t understand addiction, Trace! I’m addicted to bargains (Goodwill, scratch-and-dent groceries, dumpster finds) — which sometimes threatens my relationships.

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