Yes, Virginia, There is a Cartwright Family
A REALLY Lost Episode
Over one hundred years ago, eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial in the Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters, commercials and stamps. At this time of the year, it appears left, right and sideways.
The Sun was a New York newspaper that was published from 1833 until 1950. It was considered a serious paper, like the city's two more successful broadsheets, the New York Times and New York Herald Tribune. The Sun was the most politically conservative of the three. This paper continued until January 4, 1950, when it merged with the New York World-Telegram to form a new paper called the New York World-Telegram and Sun; in 1966, this paper became part of the New York World Journal Tribune, which folded the following year.
During 2002, a new newspaper was launched in New York with the same name but no other association with the original Sun.
Not too many people are aware of the granddaughter’s letter that was written recently to Professor F. L’annel Sheets, noted Bonanza Expert:
Dear Prof. Sheets:
I am 58 years old.
Some of my cranky, menopausal friends say there never was a Cartwright Family. There was never a Ponderosa! Bonanza was all fictional! Great-grandpapa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN, it's so.' Sadly, the Sun folded decades ago. Hopefully you can tell me what I need to know.
Please tell me the truth: was
there a Cartwright Family? Was there really a Ben Cartwright? Adam Cartwright?
Hoss Cartwright? Little Joe Cartwright?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
PS And what about Jamie?
Your little old friends are
wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not
believe except [what] they see and they all probably stayed at Woodstock far too
long or had their minds tainted by watching too much “reality TV” and holding
their cell phones too close to their heads. They think that nothing can be which
is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they
be men's or children's or cranky menopausal women, are little. In this great
universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared
with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of
grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Cartwright Family. The Ponderosa exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Cartwright Family. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Cartwright Family! Not believe in the Ponderosa and Bonanza? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the cable stations to catch Cartwright Family, but even if they did not see Cartwright Family riding out through the meadow and that burning map burn down, what would that prove? Nobody always sees Cartwright Family, but that is no sign that there is no Cartwright Family. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men nor menopausal women can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Cartwright Family! Thank God! they live in the Ponderosa inside our hearts, and they live forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, Bonanza will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
PS. Jamie WHO?
Return to Robin’s homepage
Our authors appreciate receiving comments on their stories. If you would like to send a comment on this story, click on the author’s name at the top of this page.