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Patience, Manhattan real estate and ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Diary of a real estate rookie

For my first wedding anniversary, I went back to a children's story. When I was a kid, I loved the "Little House on the Prairie" books, so I thought it would be kind of fun to re-read "The First Four Years," which is the last of them. It's the story of the writer Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband Almanzo's first years of marriage. The story, which is pretty romanticized, is full of new wedding dishes and spring pony rides and the birth of their first baby. "Manly," as she calls her husband, is handsome and strong and determined to succeed as a farmer, since he has an independent spirit and can't stand the work and crowdedness of town. As the years unfold, they're a disaster. The kids own more land than they can pay for, and servicing the mortgages is grinding. They lose one crop to heat and another to hail. Medical and childcare are ruinously expensive. Manly becomes partially paralyzed by diphtheria, and their son dies when he's just a few weeks old. At the end of the book, Laura,...