The Donner Party

I am always annoyed by people that boast, “No, our family doesn’t do tv.” (For a very funny take on this one, visit Stuff White People Like: #28 Not Having a TV.

We do have a tv, and my son perhaps could not survive without his Friday night dose of Star Wars, but honestly, my husband and I really don’tdo tv. Wait – I take that back – I do religiously watch LOST every Tuesday night but it’s about to go off the air in a matter of weeks (and please, feel free to suggest another show to me, because I don’t know what I’ll do without my weeklyescape to The Island), butI just haven’t found myself interested in any other shows, and that, coupled with the fact that we read a lot, and then,life, it’s just busy – well, we just don’tdo tv very much. Not because we oppose it, or because we think it fries the brain.

Instead, we cuddle up to the warm glow of our Apple, specifically American Experience and Frontline on

A few nights ago we cuddled up together in bed to the story of the Donner Party, one of the most compelling episodes of the American Experience that I’ve ever seen. Just imagine: it’s the winter of 1846 and you find yourself stuck in the desolate and snow covered Sierra Nevada with your youngchildren, fighting to stay alive. That’s what happened to a group of American settlers that had set out to California on a newer path out west, only to find themselves stranded, starving and freezing to death. Of the 87 pioneers that set out from Independence, Missouri, only 11 men and 36 women and children survived the ordeal.

A few days later, I was surprised to see during my morning news round up that new research has uncovered even more insight into the survivors of the tragedy. I was struck by the discovery of slates showing that the children continued with school lessons despite the harsh conditions.

Even if you’re not much of a history buff, you’ll appreciate the strength that these men, women and children demonstrated, as they pursued their piece of the American dream.

Watch the video here:

and read about the latest research on the Donner Party here:

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