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Which Century | Challenges on the Frontier | Culture Shock | The Frontier Families | Would You Have Gone? | Other Time Periods

Challenges on the Frontier Topic Description: What problems and challenges do you anticipate for the Frontier House families? What do you think they are having the most difficulty getting used to?

Subject: Amazing Microcosm
The most touching scene of this show (this is my first viewing) was when the girls had to go out to milk the cows with little or no clothing. Yes, the girls were spoiled and clueless about what work was. They are teenagers. The lack of sympathy toward them by the Glenns made my stomach turn. I don't care how bratty those girls had been. There was no reason to turn their back on them. I was so impressed that the Brooks guy came along and made sure they were okay. Such a microcosm of the way the world is today. So many "righteous people" turn their noses up when there is someone in need because there is something about that person that they do not like. Thank goodness for all of us that there are people like the Brooks who are willing to reach out to anyone, despite perceived faults! The world is bad enough as it is. The Brooks' kind of people are angels in disguise.

Subject: Not as hard as being on the trail
I think Frontier House was a good idea, but I live in a small town in Southern Idaho and what you showed on TV is part of every day living. I was also part of a 3 month wagon train what went from Nauvoo, IL to Salt Lake City. That was a three-month hike, nothing was worse than that. Our clothing was made on treddle sewing machines and we had to grind our own spices. Compared to that, FRONTIER HOUSE was a palace. I can't believe people complained so much. At least they didn't have to pull a handcart 1000 miles.

Subject: Little Lost on the Prairie
It sounds like the biggest issues viewers (responding on this message board) had with FRONTIER HOUSE were that of historical accuracy versus entertainment. Could the participants have been themselves if there were too many restrictions on historical accuracy? The way the program was edited gave me the impression that some of the participants were lost on the prairie. Surely people whose lives revolve around agriculture and seasons have an established work schedule. I know the cows got milked at the same time, twice a day, but were they told about setting up schedules for other tasks? I wonder if they really sat down and discussed who was going to each job, and when it was to be done. The most organized, structured families of any decade have members who all know their place and what is expected of them in the family. These families were given the basics and dropped in a foreign way of life without knowing what was expected of them, and what the real rules and boundaries were. I believe that it would be possible for a family (and individuals) to BE themselves and be reasonably historically accurate in this situation if they really knew what they were DOING there. Without that direction, they were just lost on the prairie, trying to find their way through the 5 months. But wasn't it entertaining?

Subject: Kudos to PBS
This was an excellent show. Just based on the variety of responses given here, the show has generated a great deal of controversy and thought about both living in the late 1800's and the inner workings of modern day Americans. I saw several comments about throwing some participants off the show. But I'm a writer and I tend to think the first amendment is a good one and we should trust the public to sort out the truth when presented with the facts. No show is perfect (and there were plenty of unforeseeable circumstances to contend with in this one), but any show that stirs people up as much as this one did is good. While several of the people on the show confirmed my worst suspicions about 21st century man, several of them also pleasantly surprised me by being or becoming better people right before my eyes. My only regret is that it was all over so fast. Thanks for a stimulating program.

Subject: Final evaluation
Thank you all, the families, the staff, the historians and the experts for this most penetrating and intriguing investigation into our past. I am reminded of WOMEN OF THE WEST by Cathy Luchetti and Carol Olwell, Antelope Island Press, 1982. I missed the first two episodes, but considering those I saw, the teacher provided a guiding light for the children and helped them immeasurably and their parents as well. I would like to have seen more about her. I would like to ask the historians to provide a bibliography. I would also like to ask them about their rejection of the Clune family. In most obvious ways, they made inappropriate choices; little effort for the wood, overbuying at the store, procuring an over abundance of livestock, and, most inappropriate of all, refusing to participate in the spirit of the challenge, by cheating, not adhering to norms of the times in clothing. Adrienne, however, did add considerably to the comfort and well being of her family and of the Brooks with her food and baked goods. She and Kristen added to the aesthetic comfort of their families by making curtains and quilts and generally making their homes attractive. I am thinking of one of the journals from the aforementioned book in which the writer says that if she hadn't had her quilts and the beauty they brought to her sod house, she wouldn't have survived. What value did you give to this consideration, if any, and what are your opinions about this aspect of living in the 1880's on the frontier? Adrienne was disappointed when she learned that they had been rejected. I wished that she had been acknowledged in some way for her efforts. I do not wish to denigrate the other family in any way. I am amazed at their honesty and frankness in speaking about themselves and their difficulties. All of the participants deserve gratitude for living their challenge in front of the intruding camera. They have been generous with themselves.

I have enjoyed watching the Frontier House. I saw the 1900 House and enjoyed that program, too. PBS did a wonderful job making these documentaries. I really appreciate what I HAVE. I could not imagine living in the late 1800, early 1900. What a hard life. I admire those people who tried to make it on the frontier, especially the women. If you loved watching the Frontier House, you will like reading Sandra Dallas's THE DIARY OF MATTIE SPENSER. I could not put that novel down. Dallas, who lives in Denver, Colorado, is mainly a non-fiction writer, so her novels are historically accurate. Mattie is a great character; she suffered much hardship, much harder than anything that the people on the Frontier House suffered. The book is worth the time.



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