Monday, July 13, 2009

Forget-Me-Not Designs

Forget-Me-Not Designs of Amboy, Minnesota welcomes you to Betsy-Tacy country! When you arrive in Deep Valley, please stop by our booth (by the Piano Box) and see our Betsy-Tacy jewelry collection, their colors mingling in bewildering iridescence…What sweet delight to choose…each bauble more enchanting than the last!

But you don’t have to just choose, you can buy, and take it home, and wear it year after year. Shopping at Forget-Me-Nots is almost as fun as Christmas Shopping, right here in Deep Valley!

Our Betsy-Tacy Collection features hand crafted collage-style pendants and brooches. Each one has a Betsy illustration, book cover, or actual photo in a metal bezel, along with sparkly collage elements, encased in crystal clear resin. Our Victorian Brooches feature a pendant amid a cluster of hand-crocheted and felted forget-me-nots, blue and reassuring, Betsy would have loved them!

A portion of all sales of Betsy-Tacy Collection jewelry will be donated to the Betsy-Tacy Society.

Are you ready to go out into the Great World, or to attend Betsy’s Wedding, but don’t have a thing to wear? Then Forget-Me-Not Designs is the place to go. Our own “Great World Collection” of dresses, in the 19teens style, is the perfect edition to your weekend wardrobe. Our comfortable designs are light and flowing, and our fabrics are luscious pastels and Big Hill florals. Turkey Trotting at the “Muster Your Wits and Your Feet” dance lessons will be ever so stylish in a dress from the Great World Collection at Forget-Me-Not Designs.

Our 4 generation booth will also have Allie Cat Creations earring designs by Allie, and one-of-a-kind vintage items from “Villager Antiques” in Amboy. Stop by our booth, and the Piano Box, for unforgettable treasures. And don’t forget that no one should go on a trip without bringing presents home to the family!

Happiest Wishes for meeting you in Deep Valley!

Lois Dethloff, Kelly Reuter, Shelby Kirchner, Allie Reuter, & Brennan Kirchner (Piano Box proprietor)

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'd Rather Be Reading Betsy-Tacy!

Krista Barrett saw this licence plate on Arline Mues car and envied it for the ten years they have been friends. Arline has had one for so long that she can't remember where she got it, but it has been transferred to all her new cars. The Southern California Betsy Tacy group talked about the idea of making these for a couple of years at our chapter gatherings, and this year Krista just happened to find somebody in Duarte who made them up for them! The So Cal chapter has underwritten the purchase of these plate holders for the convention, and they are really hoping that there will be a profit to donate to the houses. The holders will be for sale at the convention. You can even have them shipped home for you!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Betsy and Tacy Run Over the Big Hill 5K Run!

Runner and all around nice girl Susan Albrecht has set up a fun run for conventioneers! Here is the info.

Sunday, July 19, 7:30 am

We will gather & start from the corner of Main St. & Broad St., which is about two blocks E of the Holiday Inn and 4 blocks NE of the Hilton Gardens. This is where Betsy’s beloved Carnegie Public Library is located, although it’s now an Art Center. Plan to arrive between 7:15 and 7:20, with the event beginning at 7:30. We will proceed SW along Broad St., passing St. John’s Episcopal Church and Carney’s house, and coming to Lincoln Park, that pie-shaped piece of lawn that marks the entrance to Betsy’s neighborhood. Up Center St.(“Hill St.”) we will go until we reach Betsy’s & Tacy’s houses. Turn left up the Big Hill for the steepest challenge of the course and then head back down, where there will be a water stop set up on The Bench. From there, we’ll wind our way past Tib’s house and along Pleasant, Willard and State Streets, down onto Front St., where Mr. Ray’s shoe store once stood. As we find our way along Liberty St. and along 4th St., we’ll pass the homes of silent Dave Hunt and those cute Hutchinson brothers. We will end where we began, which makes the course 5K or 3.1 miles.

If you typically run an 8:00 pace, you should be able to complete the course in approximately 25:00; if a 10:00 pace, in approximately 31:00; if a 12:00 pace, 37:00. If your plan is to walk briskly, plan on 45:00, and if you like to stroll, closer to an hour.

You can see the course at Runner's World Training Log.

See you there!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Velvet Truffles - I Personally Can't Wait!

What if at some point, Betsy and Tacy had moved their families back to Deep Valley and bought the candy store from Mrs. Chubbock? They clear out the last lonely chocolate men and jawbreakers, and instead stock handcrafted truffles and sweets? Betsy still writes, and Tacy is still busy with the babies, but they set aside some time each day to indulge in a little "Everything Pudding" experimentation with fine chocolate, fresh cream and butter and delicious flavorings. (I guess we should also assume Tib is in charge of the test kitchen!)

Maybe they'd call their company Velvet Truffles, after the luxurious mouthfeel of the fresh chocolates?

Velvet Truffles is the sweet concoction of Jennifer Emery and Kelly Burgess Mayer. It is indeed hard for them to remember a time when they were not friends, and their chocolate business gives them the opportunity to exercise their creativity and indulge in valuable girl time together. They handcraft every truffle from Belgian chocolate and fresh cream, then pack them in beautiful beribboned boxes.

Jennifer and Kelly started Velvet Truffles three years ago, offering boxed truffle collections and bagged sweets at Chicago-area holiday fairs. Since that time, they have expanded to offer custom party favors, and in June achieved their own personal "essay contest" win when they were hired to provide four hundred custom boxes of truffles for the Morton Arboretum's Summer Gala.

Kelly is a lifelong Betsy-Tacy fan, and is pleased to be bringing Velvet Truffles to the convention. They will be offering Betsy-Tacy themed truffles and sweets. Save room after Sunday Night Lunch for a "Backyard Maple" truffle, or perhaps a "Mrs. Ray's Violet" truffle. Nosh on some Everything Chocolate Bark or Dark Chocolate dipped Tart Cherries.

Visit their website at, and their blog at

[Thanks to Kelly and Jennifer for this post!]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In the meantime...

While we are waiting to get some information from our last few vendors to show you what you can expect to see at the convention, I thought I would highlight a blog I have been reading, or rather viewing, called Shorpy.

According to their info -, History in HD is a vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago."

This high school graduation photo is from "Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Eastern High School." Points of interest in this unusually detailed portrait include caps and insignia of the High School Cadet Corps, Company F, and a cat."

They put up new photos nearly every day and they are all fascinating!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

And now for something completely gorgeous!

Melody Murray is a bead artist. These are some of her Betsy Tacy inspired work. The beautiful necklace above is called "Herbarium" and was obviously inspired by her love for Mr. Gaston. The necklace encircling Julia's return is named "Dramatic and Mysterious" which it certainly is. The extraordinary choker at the bottom of the page is called "Murmuring Lake".

You can see more of Melody's work like "Pink Silk Necklace" and my vote for best name - "Miss Fowler's Restrained Rhinestone Necklace and Earrings Set in Brass". Melody has little stories for all her Maud inspired jewelry. She has been published on Bead & Button Website, in Step By Step Beads magazine and in Beading Bead-A-Day Calendars 2009 & 2010 for which she won second prize in 2010. She has also participated in juried exhibitions in Oregon and Washington. And we are going to be able to see all of her beautiful creations at the Convention! If you just can't wait for more feel free to visit her bead blog or her esty shop.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mirthful in Mankato

In the continuing series of posts about the vendors for the convention - I bring you Mary Huntly. The picture on Tacy's porch is of the Blue Garter Gang. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? I will let you read about it here.

Mary described herself and her books (which she will be selling at the convention) to the DVC like this:

I grew up in Mankato, MN and went to school here from nursery school through college, left for a few years, came back and have lived here full-time since 1970. From the age of 2 years old until 6 years old I lived in Tib's house. Some of us who lived there over the years are gathering May 9 to share stories from Tib's porch.

I retired early (2001) from my faculty position in the School of Nursing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Since that time I have participated in writing and publishing three books, two of which I would love to be able to have on display and available for purchase during the July Convention.

One book is titled: A Mirthful Spirit: Embracing Laughter for Wellness, published 2007. My co-author, Edna Thayer, and I are both retired nurses and write about the benefits of laughter for healing and wellness. In February Edna Thayer and I did a presentaton at Tacy's House and I told some stories about the Mirthful Spirits of Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. In March I was invited to attend the Young Writer's Conference and assist with a breakout session related to Betsy, Tacy, and Tib books. I shared some of my writing and related it to BTT stories. More info is on our web site, A Mirthful Spirit.

The second book is titled: Amazing Attributes of Aging: Silly & Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends. My longtime friend, Judy Strand Appel and I are the lead co-authors of the book. The Blue Garter Friends consist of 36 girls who grew up in Mankato (Deep Valley) and went to elementary, junior and senior high school together. After graduating from high school we all planned to go to college. We wanted to stay connected as our friendships had grown so important to us over the years--just like the Betsy, Tacy, Tib girl friends. We formed the Blue Garter Group and the book tells our story. Now, most of us have retired and we have developed a unique section of the book that relates to aging. We have selected 3 words from each letter of the alphabet that depict aging women. Quotes from well known women enhance this dictionary style section of the book. Our group now consists of 27 women who stay connected. Fifteen of us wrote stories for the book. Recipes from our annual gatherings are included. One of our blue garter friends is a watercolor artist and created the painting of the blue garter used on the cover of the book. More info is on our web site Amazing Aging.

Doesn't she sound great? I personally can't wait to meet her at the convention. She had me at "I lived in Tib's house" - the great attitude on aging is just a bonus!

Next up, Melody Murray - bead artist and voracious reader.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Maud and Millenary!

For the next few posts, I am going to feature some of the vendors that will be at the convention and this one is a doozy! I received a wonderful story from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix about a milliner who was inspired by the work of Maud Hart Lovelace! The story is wonderful and after reading it, I emailed her to tell her about the convention. (The internet - just one more way for me make a fool out of myself talking to strangers...) But the wonderful thing is that she and her husband already knew about it and are planning to attend. And they are bringing hats!

Visit their website for a little taste of what is in store!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coming soon - to a convention near you!

For the next couple of weeks, we will be highlighting events, vendors and other sneak peaks of conventionalia!

Today I bring you Deep Valley Vignettes! Well, I don't - but the Amboy Area Community Theatre does. They will be performing Scenes from Betsy's Wedding at the convention!

Here is the one-sheet from the play. The thing that amazed me was that I assumed Kelly Reuter (the director and I believe writer/adaptor of the play) is not in possession of awesome photo shop skills, but rather created the necklace and then photographed it! Gorgeous...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Second Place Essay!

Here is the second place essay, a lovely tribute to the best older sister in all of fiction - sorry Meg and Mary. The picture above is not actually Julia, but google's closest thing. (Sorry, can't get to the scanner and the internet is Julia-deprived.) The authoresses of the essays you have been enjoying will be announced at the convention and the first place essay will be read then, as well.

And now --

Julia Ray: Singer, Sister, and Ever-So-Competent Hair Stylist:
The Woman in the Betsy-Tacy Series That I Most Admire

While reading the Betsy-Tacy series, Betsy, Tacy, and Tib materialize as the obvious stars of the novels. Although these characters all showcase their own wit, charm and winning personalities, another female character has resonated with me on a most profound level. Julia, eldest Ray daughter and vocalist extraordinaire, is one of the most intriguing and complex characters — albeit overlooked — in the series, and her grand accomplishments should be considered more deeply. Maud Hart Lovelace’s early descriptions of Julia in Betsy-Tacy and Betsy-Tacy and Tib are few and far between; indeed, she is first viewed merely as the older, wiser sister: eight years old to Betsy’s six. As the characters grow older, Lovelace develops Julia’s character further, and readers benefit from meeting an intelligent, worldly young woman. For a more in-depth study, this analysis will focus solely on Julia’s presence in 1945’s Heaven to Betsy. In this book in particular, Julia’s magnetism as a character secures her position as one of the most inimitable characters in the series.
One of the first and most interesting passages of the entire series relates to Julia and transpires in Heaven to Betsy. Julia exclaims, “Bettina, I love the Episcopal Church. I want to be an Episcopalian…Just because Papa and Mamma are Baptists is no reason I should be a Baptist. People are different. I’m myself” (p. 99). For a girl of 16, especially in the early 1900s, this statement is a bit radical. Yet, how often is religion a hot topic among America’s youth? How often do people question their systems of beliefs? These are in fact common concerns, and Lovelace brings them to light with Julia’s early questioning. It presages later young adult fiction, like Judy Blume’s 1970 masterpiece, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, in which protagonist Margaret Simon grapples with a choice between Christianity and Judaism. Today, Blume’s book is often banned in schools across the United States due to its brazen references to religion, among other elements. However, Lovelace’s attribution of these feelings of confusion to Julia at an earlier time in American fiction is truly remarkable. Julia strengthens as a character with her Episcopalian outburst and stands in stark contrast to the sometimes frivolous Betsy.
Throughout the series, Julia is noted for her extraordinary talent as a singer. The reader first gets a taste of what is to come with a passage about Chauncey Olcott’s performance in Deep Valley. The entire Ray family attends the concert. Upon leaving, they are all glowing with happiness from the wonderful performance that they just experienced. For Julia, though, the concert was not so engaging. She coolly tells Betsy, “Of course, that isn’t great music.” An outraged Betsy exclaims, “Why, the idea! If that isn’t great singing, I’d like to know what is.” Julia answers confidently, “Grand Opera.” “Like that Pugliacci you sing?” Betsy questions. Julia replies, “Of course. But Chauncey Olcott is a sweet old thing” (p. 118). Betsy is aghast at Julia’s snub to Olcott, whom Betsy deems “the finest singer in the world.” This demonstrates an essential element of Julia’s personality. Whether it is a rebuttal of the Baptist religion or a singer’s talents, Julia knows what she likes, and she experiences no reservations about speaking her mind. Granted, there are many flighty teenage girls who might defend their favorite singers from time to time; however, when Julia abhors Chauncey Olcott, she does so with such grace and maturity that one could never question her judgment. Julia may have been only 16 at this point, but her wisdom exceeds her years.
Throughout the series, Betsy undoubtedly strikes a chord with most readers. She is the most flawed, and certainly the most lovable, character in the book. Nevertheless, Julia’s aspirations make her more admirable. While Betsy clings to high school — and the Sunday night lunches, outings with the Crowd, and holidays that go along with it — Julia longs for the Great World. In Heaven to Betsy, the reader learns that while Julia used to pal around with Katie Kelly, she has become less interested in high school friendships as the years have passed. Julia even grows more independent in terms of boys. After a quarrel with a beau, Fred, Julia refuses to accept his apology. Betsy pleads with Julia to forgive the boy: “This is pretty hard on Fred. He’s going to flunk everything, because he’s worrying about you.” In response, Julia “settles down to her Cicero” and reasons, “Very foolish of him” (p. 262). Certainly, Julia’s independence reaches epic proportions when she actually departs for the Great World. Even at 16 years old, though, Julia does not get swept up into dances and other typical high school fare. As Betsy describes her, “Julia loved the Great World. She loved to sing, to act, to study, out in the Great World. The Great World was more real and much more important than the Deep Valley High School” (p. 179). This life perspective is quite rebellious of Julia, particularly for the time. Rather than playing her music, it would surely be simpler to fantasize over handsome boys and gobble down sundaes at Heinz’s. Perhaps most importantly, when Julia continues to forge her own path, she does so with virtually no snobbery or condescension.
Finally, in an examination of the Betsy-Tacy series, a character’s ties back to Betsy are innumerably important. Julia flawlessly fills the role of Betsy’s older sister. Whether she is happily entertaining Betsy’s friends at the piano or adeptly twisting Betsy’s hair into perfect pompadours, Julia’s love for “Bettina” is always present. In the beginning of Chapter Two, the reader learns: “[Betsy] admired Julia without resentment. During the last year all big-sister, little-sister friction had miraculously melted away” (p. 25). Indeed, Betsy is in a vulnerable position as the middle sister, but seldom, if ever, does the reader witness any disparaging comments from Julia. One of the most loving displays of sisterhood occurs after an evening of skating, when Betsy witnesses Tony flirting and skating with Bonnie. As she remains in a state of depression the next morning, she wants to do nothing more than lie in bed. Julia walks in Betsy’s room, assesses the situation at hand and remarks, “It must be your ankle…I’ll explain to Papa about your ankle and bring you some breakfast” (p. 238). Naturally, Julia understands the real reason behind Betsy’s despondency, but in true Julia fashion, she does not say a word. Later, Julia returns to “beautify” Betsy by fixing her hair, rubbing a chamois skin across her face, and administering an impeccable manicure. Julia’s eagerness to help Betsy prevails as a significant example of sisterhood. In literature and in the media, quintessential big sisters are bossy women who tease and fool their younger siblings. Instead of subscribing to this view, Lovelace paints Julia as a compassionate young woman whom any girl would be fortunate to call a sister.
Julia Ray is based off Kathleen Palmer Hart, Lovelace’s older sister. Today’s readers will never know Kathleen; thus, they will never know if Kathleen’s persona really matched Julia’s benevolence and charisma. Luckily, readers can turn to any of the 10 Betsy-Tacy books and receive a full dose of the fascinating, multi-faceted character of Julia. Through her confidence toward her religious convictions and musical preferences and her selfless behavior toward Betsy, Julia is the most admirable female character in the series. As Lovelace writes in Heaven to Betsy, 16-year-old Julia has a sort of “diamond-bright precocity” (p. 25). Throughout the rest of the series, Julia’s diamond shines brighter than all the rest.

*The page numbers that were referenced in this essay can be found in the 2000 edition of Heaven to Betsy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Essay Contest Honorable Mention - the last one!

The following is the last honorable mention essay. It is a silly one, with a gritty kernel of truth to it. Bonnie; Friend
or Foe? You be the judge! (Well, the judging has already occurred, but you know what I mean...) Please assume the words in brackets are delicately crossed out with a thin line so that they can still be read, but have obviously been excised from the poem in a fit of pique.

Bonnie Andrews:
The Woman in the Betsy-Tacy Series That I Most Admire

This poem is shamelessly dedicated to contest judge Darsa Morrow, because she once dedicated a poem, “Odes to Bonnie,” to me.

Bonnie the [Praying] Preying Enchantress
I think that I shall never see
A girl as [lovely] perfidious as Bonnie

A girl who [enchanted] stole beaux all day
While lifting plump hands to [pray] prey

A girl who strove [devoutly] deceptively to ensnare
[Converts] Tall dark strangers to her basement lair

A girl whose [sincere] alleged reforming line
Forced the Crowd on burn-ed toast to dine

Her departure shattered Christian Endeavor
Bonnie will be missed [forever] never!

(Note to judge: Please copy and paste this poem to the end of this essay until the required word minimum is met. Thank you.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Essay Contest Honorable Mention

Here is the second honorable mention essay. As an admirer of the heroine in question I must say that I thought the judges (pictured to the side) did a wonderful job in honoring it!

Betsy- Tacy Essay: The Woman That I Most Admire – Tib

As Betsy and Tacy approach the chocolate colored house on Pleasant Street “they saw what looked like a clothes pin, standing prongs up” and suddenly realize that the amusing image is actually “a little girl standing on her head” (Betsy-Tacy). That “dainty and small” girl whose “arms, legs, and face were tanned” with “round blue eyes” and “short fluff of yellow hair” is Thelma Muller, or Tib, as Betsy and Tacy come to know her. The character of Tib, a bright, independent, yet modest young girl enhances Maud Hart Lovelace’s novels by conveying a unique and innovative young woman living in a brand new century through her brave, courageous, and compassionate nature, her individuality, and her instinctive common sense.
Tib’s brave and courageous nature seems foreign to Betsy and Tacy as they have never seen such a small statured girl behave in a fierce, straightforward, and just manner before. From the beginning of their companionship, Tib assumes the role as the risk-taker of the trio as she often marches to the beat of her own drum. Lovelace depicts this unlikely attribute of such a “dainty” little girl growing up in the early nineteen hundreds in many instances throughout the series. In Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Tib’s ethical and principle minded conscience asserts itself as she courageously defends the little Syrian girl named Naifi, whom she and Betsy and Tacy had befriended upon the Big Hill, from a circle of tormenting, vicious, and cruel boys. Lovelace describes Tib in this heated moment as “a small shining comet” as she pushes her way through the circle shouting, “‘You let her go! You let her be!’” All of a sudden a boy named Sam pushes
little, but brave Tib backwards while simultaneously ripping the accordion-pleated dress which Tib had worn that day to perform her baby dance for the school entertainment. She felt proud of this lovely dress which her mother had sewn for her to wear, but “heedless of her dress, Tib pushed Naifi through a break in the circle,” thus proving her strength and ability to act in a compassionate nature whenever she finds a friend in need.
Though Tib loves to go along with Betsy and Tacy in school and around town, she does not, however, act as a follower. Lovelace depicts Tib as her own individual person, which perhaps is why Betsy and Tacy admire her so and find her a remarkable friend. Throughout the series, Tib has her own ideas and aspirations, and unlike Betsy and Tacy, whose mothers let them run and have fun as children, “Tib’s mother believed in children knowing how to work. Tib dusted the legs of the chairs and polished the silver. She was learning to cook and sew” (Betsy-Tacy and Tib). Tib’s different background and household upbringing resonates with her through her childhood and into young adulthood as she embraces her uncommon and individualistic ideas. In Betsy’s Wedding, Lovelace illustrates this characteristic attitude in Tib as she behaves differently from other girls when the thought of marriage arises. One can distinctly see this attitude in Tib when Betsy asks her, “’When are you going to settle down?’” and Tib replies casually, “‘Why should I settle down? I’m good at my job. Saving money. Like my boarding house.’” Later on in the novel, Tib explains her reasoning to Betsy as she says, “’Just because I’m small, men think I’m a clinging vine. They think I need to be protected. Imagine that! Why, I like to paddle my own canoe! I like adventure. I want to see the world.’” Though Betsy agrees with Tib’s notions, she becomes astounded when Tib says, “‘I’m saving my money to buy an automobile’” as “Betsy did not know an unmarried girl who owned an automobile.” But of course, the innovative, individualistic, headstrong Tib would be the first. Tib confirms this as she pronounces, “’I’m going to drive my auto all over the United States.’” Tib’s fresh, unique, and modern way of thinking allow her to separate from the mold of what a woman should be, and, in result, become a contemporary woman during the turn of the century.
Perhaps the best attribute which Tib possesses is her constant use of common sense and honesty throughout the many encounters and situations which she comes across with Betsy and Tacy. Tib always seems to say the most sensible, yet simplistic words, that have the effect of bringing Betsy and Tacy back to reality. In Betsy-Tacy, and Tib, Lovelace depicts this quality in Tib’s character in a short, simple conversation as Betsy says, “‘I wouldn’t like to be playing the piano today’” and Tib’s quickness of thought answers Betsy saying, “’Neither would I […] Of course […] we don’t know how.’” To convey the important distinction between Tib and Betsy and Tacy, as well as the dimension that Tib adds to their friendship, Lovelace writes, “Neither Betsy nor Tacy would have pointed that out. Tib was always pointing such things out. But Betsy and Tacy liked her just the same.” Tib’s sensible nature seems to emerge most in Betsy Was a Junior after she and Betsy and Tacy delay working on their herbarium project until the last moment possible. Tib announces quite honestly as they walk down Hill Street, “‘I think […] that this was an idiotic thing to do […] As a matter of fact […] we’ve had a pretty foolish year. You and I especially, Betsy. It’s been fun, and I guess it’s been worth it, but I wouldn’t want another year this foolish.’” Tib even goes on to say, “‘We’re getting a little old for this sort of thing.’” Even though Tib may seem a bit too frank, open, and honest about how she feels at times, Betsy and Tacy need her to pull them back to their own senses, and Tib does this well. Her open honesty though, is never meant to be rude or rash, but instead heartfelt as she confides to Betsy, “I like all the girls at the Sem very much, and I like my cousins, but there’s never been anyone like you and Tacy” (Betsy in Spite of Herself).
When I was five years old, my mom began reading the Betsy-Tacy series to me each night before I went to bed. I remember the night Tib was introduced in the book; I had so many questions to ask my mom about this interesting girl’s character. She seemed a bit like me, with a short, dainty stature, yet fun-loving and high-spirited. I could tell that this little girl was tough and I liked that. I, like Tib, hated when people would think of me as too small to do anything great, but Tib always managed to prove others wrong. With her bold, fearless, compassionate nature toward others, her knowing of self, independence, and individuality, and her levelheaded, reasonable, and sincere nature, I admire her to this day as she encompasses the idea of stepping out of the ordinary, breaking the original mold, and proving that sweet, dainty, little girls can still have big dreams, too.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The New Covers!

These are the new covers of the tomes that will be coming out in the fall from Harper Collins. You can pre-order them at the convention!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Essay Contest Honorable Mention

I find this particular character particularly inspiring too - please enjoy the first of the Honorable Mention Essays! - Barb

The Woman in the Betsy-Tacy Series That I Most Admire

There are many appropriate role models for girls in the Betsy-Tacy series. Certainly Betsy and Julia are models of women of the arts. They follow their passions, in Julia’s case to the exclusion of everything else at times. Emily is an exemplary woman with a cause. It’s always uplifting to see someone set out to change the world - or at least her small corner of it. However, I have selected a woman who did not choose her life’s path but rather had it thrust upon her. It is her response to the unforeseen that makes this woman truly great. The woman I have chosen is Miss Cobb.
“Miss Cobb, a large, mild, blonde woman . . . was a Deep Valley institution, and one of its most widely admired heroines.” It seems strange to choose a character who is sadly lacking a Christian name (She is called Jessie Cobb in Emily of Deep Valley, but as Emily is not widely read she remains Miss to the majority of us.). What little we know about her comes to us through Betsy Was a Junior and Betsy and Joe, even though Julia had taken lessons from her in years past. Miss Cobb was engaged to marry, but broke off her own engagement to raise her sister’s four children following her sister’s death from tuberculosis. Two of the children died of the disease some time thereafter and the third child, Leonard, is suffering from terminal tuberculosis. At the turn of the century the loss of a loved one was not the rare exception and Miss Cobb met it in the way many women of the day did. The now-orphaned niece and nephews needed a home and she gave them one. We never find out what happened to the fiancĂ© and no one visibly misses him, least of all Miss Cobb.
Miss Cobb was not alone in having illness impact her life. The early part of the twentieth century was a time before the wonder drugs and the tenuousness of life was part of the time. Maud spares us much of this uncertainty, so dread diseases were a larger part of Maud’s life than of Betsy’s. Baby Bee dies both in Betsy-Tacy and in real life, Tacy had diphtheria in Betsy, Tacy and Tib, but for the most part illness is not prevalent in the series. The typhoid epidemic of the summer of 1908 is not mentioned, for example, although the death of Cab’s father (who in reality lived into his eighties, a pleasant surprise for many of us) may have been inspired by the real-life events. The real-life Leonard did die of tuberculosis and this is a very real representation of the handling of sickness and the reality of young people facing death.
As a person Miss Cobb is calm and cheerful. In fact, those are the two words Maud uses most. She is described as “calm and courageous”, “calm and cheerful”, “ so cheerful all winter” and finally “calmly cheerful”! She does not fuss over Leonard. In fact, she teases him when he’s leaving for the sanitarium that he ought not write his usual “having-a-fine-time-hope-you-are-too kind of letters”. “Miss Cobb . . . was as calm and cheerful as though he were going to St. John to play football instead of the Colorado mountains to die.” When Leonard does die she goes to get his body and had a funeral. “Then lessons began again. Miss Cobb looked pale, but she was as calmly cheerful as ever. She didn’t mention the recital, though. There was no recital that year.”
Miss Cobb is a daughter of Deep Valley and the adults would feel guilty having their children start piano with any other teacher. The Ray family discusses her:
“She’s a better musician than she is a teacher, Julia had remarked one time.
And a finer human being than either, Mr. Ray had added.”

She does not live on charity, but the citizens feel it incumbent upon them to provide her with a living. Yet it is this self-sufficiency that gives Miss Cobb her strength. One gets the feeling that she chose to teach piano because it’s what she knows and is good at, but if she had not studied piano she would have found an equally effective career path. Miss Cobb is a survivor and self-sufficient. She becomes the prototypical career woman of the twentieth century not by desire but by circumstance. “Dear, brave Miss Cobb!”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Everyone's Talking About the Betsy-Tacy!

Thanks to Julie Chuba, kindest, sweetest web-mistress and all around fig - I present a list of links where other people talk about the convention!

My favorite is Melissa Wiley's story about discovering the books as a young staffer at Harper Collins. I'm sure she thought she was the only one!

Cool Kids Read mentions the books as well.

Even college kids are still reading the tomes!

Some bloggers are mentioning the convention itself. Unplug your kids mentions it . As does Joelle Anthony who is going to be there!

There are mentions on the Greater Mankato Events page and they even include the agenda, which made me even more excited about the convention. Well, I have had that low-intensity excitement for nearly a year, but is just seems so wonderfully SOON now! Meg Cabot mentions it on her Tour Information page. Even the Hibbing Public Library mentions us!

I am off to read a little Carney's House Party in anticipation! Thanks Julie, for the links.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

First Visit to Deep Valley

Today's guest blogger is Jennifer Davis-Kay of Arlington, Massachusetts. She is a long-time Betsy-Tacy fanatic and one of my dearest friends. It was my great honor to be with her two summers ago on one of her 29th birthdays on her first visit to Mankato. The following is her account of that auspicious occasion. I just love Jen's writing and I will be nagging her for more tidbits from her trip to Minnesota to post here - and not just because I am in them! The third in our immortal trio is Kathy Baxter who will be the keynote speaker at the convention. Jen is the glamorous redhead in the photo, Kathy is the well-dressed, poised one on the right. I am the one that looks like she is made out of perspiration. If you want to know where this mysterious photo was taken, read on! Take it away Jen!~

Off to Mankato! So much to photo-document . . . and my digital camera wasn’t working (no batteries). Kathy and Barb didn’t even have digital cameras. Such a dilemma! We drove through “St. John” and rolled down the windows to yell “Poor old St. John! Poor old St. John!” We also passed through the valley of the Jolly Green Giant (ho ho ho)! And then—we were in Deep Valley. Weep, weep! Fortunately, the mighty Walgreens has even penetrated Deep Valley, and batteries were secured—what a relief. Barb took a test picture of me and Kathy to be sure.

Our first stop: the (closed) Carnegie Library; Barb tried to make me scale the ivy and break in, but not even for the sake of and awesome photo would I take that particular chance. We drove by churches, some original and some not. (Betsy’s Baptist church is now a frat house! Yikes!)

Next stop, Carney’s house, and holy cow! there’s a girl walking in! Barb pressed a $20 bill and the paperback of Carney’s House Party into my hands and said, “It’s your birthday, get in that house!” I stood in the hallway (it’s an apartment building) just touching the walls and feeling verklempt, when along comes the same girl, who looked at me in confusion. Helpfully, I burst into tears and began to babble. The girl seemed to catch the words “book” and “this house” and “Carney,” and said, “Um, would you like to see my apartment?” Would I! Oh, and can I bring my friends? So that is how Jen, Barb, and Kathy got into the apartment with the sleeping porch. We spied the window entrance, went on point like hunting dogs, and asked if it would bear our weight. “Sure . . .” the girl said, polite but not in any way getting why we wanted to do this. One at a time, we crawled through the window—Maud described it perfectly—and had our picture taken. HEAVEN. We could’ve stayed for hours, but oh this poor girl. So we didn’t. But we did give her the book, and she seemed pleased.

And this was especially thrilling because it was something that Kathy “Ms. Deep Valley” Baxter had never done before!

It’s worth noting that the sleeping porch is kinda freaky-looking from the outside, where it bulges pregnantly from the second story. What’s holding it up? Faith?

Time for champagne (well, when isn’t it, really)! [Note: It was the authoress's birthday, hence the boozy celebration. She is not generally in the habit of imbibing before noon, honest.] We reached the Houses, where Kristin sat on Betsy’s porch, awaiting us. No bench, disappointment, but we sat on the steps, cracked open our (first) bottle, and enjoyed mimosas and Mom’s coffeecake while gazing upon Betsy’s House and Tacy’s House. My beautifully groomed feet were noted and photo-documented, for posterity. Dang, it was hot. Thank goodness for my fan(ner), Barb. And also: nirvana.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blame it on Joe!

It appears that no one has updated this blog in awhile! I have some feelers out for more guest bloggers - let me know if you are interested. I am currently leading a group read of Betsy and Joe on the Maud List. Which is taking all my writing time. Well, I have a list of excuses as long as my arm - but I will go with this one:


I am currently looking over the specs of the Alltel center to see where we should put different things and it just looks so amazing! The reception hall used to be the First National Bank and has been restored with the original bank vaults and stained glass windows. The pictures are beautiful. You can see some pictures here. It is just lovely.

I am also looking over the menus and it goes without saying that I will be bringing some elastic waist pants. Maybe a nice roomy sun dress. I plan to be packing it in. And I hear that when you plan ahead to be a glutton the food has half the calories that it usually contains. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Save a bit of money!

You have no idea how easy blogging can be if you can keep getting other people to do the writing for you!

Here is Radhika with some EXCELLENT news regarding the registration deadline:

It has been so wonderful to hear the enthusiasm from everyone who has registered for the convention! The days are fast approaching ... and you can read the counter on the convention website to count down the days and hours until it begins! We know this has been long-awaited and will be a wonderfully fun event.

When the committee started working on the convention, now almost 15 months
ago, we had no inkling (as so many did not) that the economy would take the downturn that it has. My main concern at that time was the transportation cost for our buses, as fuel was reaching near $4.50 a gallon and was predicted to go higher (which thankfully did not happen!). We did not know that times would become so hard for so many people from that time until now.

When we planned our finances, we wanted to provide an incentive for early registration, the way most conventions and meetings do, by providing a discounted registration rate of $245 per person until May 1. Well, thanks to all of the early registrants as well as a generous grant from the Mankato Convention Bureau of $1500, I am happy to say that we have all the money we need up front to pay for our venue costs and deposits.

As such, we want to extend this small bounty to everyone who may be able to attend. So, we are keeping the discounted registration fee of $245 (rather than increasing it to $275) in place until June 15. We know that so many people want to attend, but with the economic uncertainty may not yet know whether they have the funds, and as the goal of the convention is to have as
many people as would like to attend be in Mankato this summer, we hope that this helps anyone who has not yet registered have a little extra boost to make it possible to attend. In the end, this is all a labor of love in the spirit of Maud, and we really hope that everyone who wants to can come! For those who may not know, all proceeds from the convention that are not used to cover the costs of the convention will be donated to the Betsy-Tacy Society.

BTW, in terms of clothing, I am with everyone else in saying that there is definitely no formality and you may wear whatever is comfortable. On Saturday night during the Great World dinner, a dark silk will do :-) or regular everyday clothing. Costumes are definitely encouraged but not mandatory (as Barb once said, we are costume-friendly). On Sunday night is Betsy's Wedding, so, again, if you wish to dress for the occasion, that is great, or any other daily wear clothing is acceptable as well. Make sure you bring your dancing shoes, though, if you plan to Muster Your Wits and dance at Shelby's dance lessons on Monday morning! And bring your running shoes if
you want to run the 5K up the Big Hill with Susan A and friends!

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Convention List-Mania!

Today Julie and Melody (in response to queries about what to wear at the convention) have developed Betsy-like lists to help you in your preparations!

Things to Pack for the Betsy-Tacy Convention:

  1. Magic Wavers
  2. Boudoir cap
  3. Brownie Camera
  4. Plenty of clean shirtwaists
  5. Cocoa pail
  6. Jabot
  7. Notebook
  8. Sharpened pencils
  9. Merry Widow Hat
  10. Rabbit’s foot
  11. Jade bracelets
  12. Julia, to do my hair
  13. Bath salts
  14. Celeste and Hortense
  15. Jockey Club perfume
  16. A curling iron

List of Things to do in Deep Valley (Mankato) at the Betsy-Tacy Convention:

  1. Skinny-dip in Murmuring Lake
  2. Steal fudge from someone’s porch
  3. Go begging on the Big Hill
  4. Make herbariums. In one afternoon.
  5. Take a spin in a red auto
  6. Smoke cubebs
  7. Paint on the roof of the high school
  8. Cut locks of each other’s hair for remembering
  9. Put colored eggs in the branches of the maple tree
  10. Sneak into the Junior dance
  11. Eat a slice of unfrosted cake on the bench
  12. Play for the Lochnivar Nine
  13. Hike through the Big Slough
  14. Eat baklava in Little Syria
  15. Spend a nickel at Mrs. Chubbock’s candy store
  16. Leave a calling card at the chocolate-colored house
  17. Polish Mrs. Ray’s brass bowl
  18. Trample the Sibley’s side lawn
  19. Sample Anna’s muffins and Mr. Ray’s onion sandwiches
  20. Roll up the rug and dance a waltz in Betsy’s house

Things to Look For in Deep Valley (real or imagined)

  1. Mr. Thumbler’s Hack
  2. Page Park
  3. Carney’s sleeping porch
  4. The Big Slough
  5. The Big Hill
  6. Mrs. Ray’s brass bowl
  7. The little glass pitcher
  8. Tony Markham
  9. A maple tree with a cigar box in one of its branches
  10. The Majestic Theatre
  11. Mr. Ray’s Shoe Store
  12. Old Mag
  13. Winged Victory, at the Melborn Hotel
  14. Betsy’s trunk desk
  15. Deep Valley High School
  16. The Carnegie Library
  17. The door with the colored pane of glass
  18. A piano box
  19. A sand store
  20. Heniz’s ice cream parlor
  21. A red auto or a Locomobile

Menu Items to Look for in Mankato Restaurants

  1. Fried potatoes
  2. Everything Pudding
  3. Frog Legs
  4. Onion sandwiches
  5. Floating Island
  6. Beef birds
  7. An Imperial Sundae
  8. Unfrosted cake
  9. Rocks (reread Downtown if you get this reference)
  10. Flopped and unflopped eggs
Thanks for the tips, ladies - see you there!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


One hundred and seventeen years ago a wonderful woman was born!

I am about to leave for a birthday party with the NEWBETSYs - the northeast Betsy-Tacy group. Our official acronym definition is the somewhat awkward "New England Women Boisterously Eating, Talking and Sharing Youth-Lit". It amazes me how many close friendships I have made thanks to this talented writer and marvelous human being!

My quest to find out exactly what this would have been the 100th anniversary of took me to chapter 20 of BETSY WAS A JUNIOR. (I love knowing what happened exactly 100 years ago or 10 years ago. I blame the metric system.)

This is a party in the waning days of the Okto Deltas. It is such a downer that Maud doesn't even tell us who is hosting the party! (Although she does walk "down the hill with the girls" to get home. And since she lives up hill from everyone else, I am going to guess Tacy or Alice. They seem up hill. But I digress.)

At this party Winona brings up the trenchent problem that the Omega Deltas are sniffing around other girls. And to add insult to injury - Tony is blowing them off! Betsy is worried about him (foreshadowing!) because he is going around with a perfectly awful girl.


For those of you who are wondering why this is so exciting, a perfectly awful girl (or a PAG if you prefer) is a subset of the Betsy-Tacy fellowship who just might find herself hopping a freight to see a ball game or at the very least drinking a beer and smoking a cubeb! If you have a tatoo, you are a perfectly awful girl. If you stay out past 10 you are a perfectly awful girl. There are a lot of fun things about being a perfectly awful girl.

Here is the funny thing - in the book (page 207) there is no specific mention of who utters the phrase "perfecly awful girl"! I have always assumed it was Betsy, but perhaps not. Was it mentioned before?

So on this auspicious day which could be the 100th anniversey of the phrase "perfectly awful girl" - I ask you - Who said it? And more importantly - are you one?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Get This Girl a Reward!

Since she did such a great job on Earth Day, and because she is an experienced blogger AND because she is instrumental in keeping the tomes in print - Jen will be guest blogging again today!

I Have Handed in My Herbarium
I have finally transmitted Heaven to Betsy through Betsy's Wedding to production for their Fall reissues!! And honestly, I think it was worse than making herbariums. It didn't seem like it would be that difficult: slap two books together, add the new foreword, combine the back sections and call it a day. As if. There was searching for photos -- endlessly -- THANK YOU JULIE at the BTS for being such a godsend in that department. Then there was combining the who's who character lists in the back to avoid repetition. Then looking for photos some more. Then there was the going through each book and indicating where to combine, insert, retouch, etc. Then being visited (like an angel) by Andrea Shaw, executor of Maud's estate and poring over the photo albums. OK, that part rocked, no complaining here. Many disks that I couldn't read or access later, the images and books and forewords and updated copyright pages, etc. have been sent down to our managing editor, I have a newfound respect for editors everywhere, and I need a drink.

In the meantime, if you're interested in the sales-y side of publishing, I've been making special Betsy-Tacy pitches to our reps who sell to children's bookstores, to reps who sell to stores in the midwest and to those who sell to christian bookstores (in addition of course to everyone else in our sales department). Everyone is so excited about these reissues! To end, I share with you a few of the great photos of Maud, and Maud and Bick, that we scanned this week. They need some retouching, but you get the idea. All are from the Estate of Merian Kirchner.
Off in search of nearest wine bottle, like the perfectly awful girl that I am.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every Day is Earth Day When You're Betsy Ray!

Today's guest blogger is Jennifer Hart from Harper who is helping promote the heck out of the convention!

It occurs to me as we celebrate Earth Day today that Betsy Ray celebrated nature every day. There were concerns about the environment even in the early 1900s (see Sr. Year Essay Contest topic below), and Betsy had a genuine appreciation and love for the outdoors. First there was the pure joy she took in just being outside. No matter how many layers of clothing she had to put on in the winter, playing in the snow with Tacy was worth it. And as soon as the weather gets warmer, she and Tacy take their dinners outside (barefoot, natch) to eat on their special bench while Betsy spins her tales. These first Betsy-Tacy picnics would be repeated for years and years and The Big Hill itself is practically a character in the series.

While Betsy’s outdoor adventures might seem completely natural (no pun intended) to her fans now, Maud Hart Lovelace clearly chose to make nature a big part of these books. Betsy was a bookish type who longed to be a writer. She could just as easily have stayed inside her cozy parlor or room, reading and writing. Not only is this not the case, one could say that her evolution as a writer happens in the outdoors. She first begins writing while up in the tree in her yard, and she stores her papers and pencils there. Later, she reads and writes along the shores of Murmuring Lake, and floating in a boat on Babcock’s Bay.

When Betsy, like any young lady, starts to feel the lure of adolescent pursuits – boys, the moving picture show and Heinz’s Ice Cream Parlor -- she and The Crowd still probably spend as much time outside as in, hanging out on the Sibley's side lawn, riding behind (or on!) Dandy or in an auto in the open air, tramping through the snow to skate on those weak ankles, battered cocoa tin always by her side.

Some of the most entertaining stories in the series take place in nature – let us not forget the dreaded herbariums! The all-nighter that she, Tacy and Tib pull to construct the herbariums that they were supposed to have worked on for the entire year is one of my favorite moments in Betsy was a Junior. I never had to make a herbarium when I was in school and whenever I read this chapter I get a little jealous. And I found it hilarious when they went back outside in the morning to gather more plants, only to realize that flowers don’t open before the sun comes up. Kicking themselves later for not taking the project seriously, Betsy says, “I should have been interested, at least. I’m crazy enough about flowers!”

Nature even plays matchmaker in the novels as it helps to bring Betsy and Joe together. Though “held apart by that curious hostility, which, for a time, had stood between them,” Joe still defends her "rosy" apple blossoms to Mr. Gaston. When Betsy retreats to the pastoral setting of the Beidwinkle's farm, she and Joe make up from their senior year quarrel. And Betsy finally wins that year’s Essay Contest when the theme is the “Conservation of Our Natural Resources!” (Of course she may have had an unfair advantage as Joe confesses, “how can I think about ‘Conservation of Our Natural Resources” when it’s so much more interesting thinking about Betsy?”)

Yes, Betsy would have loved Earth Day, she lived a life that revelled in the great outdoors -- from her childhood and adolescence, and into early adulthood with the picnics she took in Europe on to the wonderful honeymoon that she and Joe spent in the country. So today, put everyone's dinner on a plate and carry them outdoors, to your deck, your backyard, your swing set or your neighborhood bench and enjoy a Betsy-Tacy Earth Day Dinner.

P.S: Just after finishing this essay, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with Andrea Shaw, the Executor of Maud Hart Lovelace’s estate. She told me that Maud was quite the recycler, and would type newer drafts of the novels on the back of pages she’d already typed on. While this creates a bit of a nightmare for the person organizing her papers, it certainly supports the theory of Maud as an environmentalist!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'll Have It My Way!

Our guest blogger today is anonymous, but her name rhymes with Badhika! She has some tidbits from the early planning stages of the convention!

About a year ago, when this particular journey started to plan the convention for July 2009, I sent out a survey to MAUD-L so that we could plan the convention to the desires of a “focus group” of people who were so clearly crazy about Betsy-Tacy and Maud Hart Lovelace that they had subscribed to daily chatter about her. As I look back on some of the survey results, I chucked at some of my favorite ones….

How many people in your party will register for the event?

One answer:
I won't come unless I can register as one and one half persons, as my neuroses are Very Sensitive about being uncounted.


What months would be best for you to attend the convention?

Answer: I won't come unless the event takes into consideration the relative humidity and its effect on my hair.

Question: We are deciding between the Holiday Inn (the previous site of the Melborn hotel) and other hotels in the neighborhood. Any thoughts?

Answer: I wont come unless there are chocolates on my pillow every time I return to my room after being away for a period not shorter than 4 minutes. Also, I won't come unless we can go where I want at the times which match my admittedly unusual circadian rhythms.

Another answer: I hope to encounter the ghost of Mrs. Poppy.

Question: What activities would you like during the convention?

Answer: I won't come unless I can have a sedan chair for the walk, with 4 well-muscled, virile bearers wearing only sandals and breechclouts. The breechclouts must coordinate with my eye color. The sandals should be a vegan-friendly material.

Another answer: Maybe a bonfire with weiner and marshmallow roasting and buckets of cocoa one night, to simulate the ice skating bonfires and the other outdoor outings (My note: In July??)

Another answer: We need Perfectly Awful Girl activities after the evening events are over!

Note: We do in fact have these scheduled for those who want to see what Tony and his bad crowd might have been doing at the pool halls…..

Another answer: I want to see “BT and MHL: True Hollywood Story: A presentation”

Question: What type of activities would you like on Sunday morning:

Answer: A pagan event where someone dances widdershins around a clay sculpture of Tony sitting backwards on a chair

But the best question for bringing out the group was the question on whether we should have food that was listed in the books for the meals or foods that are more modern and seasonally appriopriate:

- I am allergic to milk, butter & cheese so as long as there are alternatives (if there are any...).

- Onion sandwiches and Sunday Night Lunch a must! (Note: We will have them!)
- Not too many spicy dishes--I have allergies.
- Vegetables - please include vegetables! Many of the BT food really don't go over to well in the 21st century
- Anything but frog legs!
- I want to try frogs legs!!!

Well, we have used the survey results often over the past several months to guide us (as much as possible and, no, there is not a pagan event scheduled!) so the event promises to be wonderful and there will be something for everyone!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happiest Day of My Life!

I don't know why I hadn't done the math before this, but apparently the day that Harry Potter XI opens and the first day of the Convention will be occurring on the very same day!

Because the voices in my head compelled me to check, I have figured out that I will be viewing HP6 at either the Carmike Stadium 6 or Cinemark Movie 8 in Mankato. But looking at their current schedules I see that the first showing either one has today is 4 in the afternoon.

Is this the sort of thing that goes on in Minnesota? No early afternoon movies? I already live in fear that I may be hit by a bus before the convention AND that I might be hit by a bus before I get to see HP6. The fact that both of those things are happening on the same day is makeing me fearful of all public transportation!

Anyone up for a midnight movie Thursday night in Minneapolis?

Minneapolis Tour!

Here is guest blogger and all 'round peach (and fig!) Julie Chuba with some information about the tour of Betsy's Minneapolis after the convention. I took a tour with Julie and some other Betsy-Philes two summers ago (stay tuned to read more) and it was tremendous fun. We did look a bit like Betsy and Joe checking out the Canoe Place house, but our motives were not as pure! I am sure there will be much more decorum at this wonderfully organized event!

Here's Julie:

The Minneapolis walking tour of Maud's neighborhood will take place Tuesday, July 21st. I just got a lot more information from the last Maud Hart Lovelace Society meeting which was held this past Monday (April 13). As soon as I make dinner and clean up tonight I will be devoting my evening and probably wee hours of the morning to updating the convention web site with more details.

I will also get a final draft of the registration form sent to the beautiful Jennifer Davis Kay who has so graciously agreed to put it into a pdf form for me as I don't have the software to do that.

But a quick little teaser here:

We'll meet Tuesday morning at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which Maud attended at one time (although this is not the location of the church when Maud attended).
There will be a muffins/rolls/coffee (can't guarantee the latter will be made with egg, shell and all), then a short program, with remarks by MHLS members, and a presentation by the Maud History Player from the MN History Museum. There will also be a few Maud-related displays.

Then we board a vintage bus from the MN Transportation Museum (I don't know what vintage it will be--I just hope it's older than I am, or I'll feel bad than I can now be labeled "vintage") and drive over to Maud's neighborhood ( just about a mile or two away), where we'll disembark for the walking tour.

We'll see the Bow St. apmt., the Canoe Place house, and the homes of Julia, Margaret, and Jim Hart (Maud's uncle), and the Gluek Mansion, which is mentioned in the BT companion. We'll be able to go inside the Jim Hart house, Margaret's house, and the Gluek mansion. We are still working on getting inside the Bow St. apmt., but so far haven't had any response from the current occupant. Unable to go inside the Canoe Place house as the owner is a bit too difficult for us, so we'll need to be very careful about just viewing that house from the sidewalk, and not going into the yard (BARB).

We'll have a short program with a few surprises at the park where the Ray house once stood, before heading back to the church for a lunch.

Cost for the entire event will be $30 (including lunch) for adults; $15 for kids 16 and younger.

More details to follow as soon as possible!

Monday, April 13, 2009

To Murmur or not to Murmur?

I am torn, non-existant readers, on the issue of Murmuring Lake. Or more precisely, the Point Pleasant side-trip in the convention. There are two options, the food is supposed to be amazing and the price is right - $18 and I think transportation is included! (If you know for sure please leave a comment. Oh the shameless begging for comments!) I could do the Monday afternoon one with little difficulty, but I am afraid I will be too exhausted! Feel free to comment and talk me into it!

I have been to Murmuring Lake once before and I have cut and pasted my Madison Lake story from 2002 below!

[We had some adventures, then got some snacks and went to the cemetary to visit Maud...]

Then off we went to Murmuring Lake. I think the less said about the drive out there, the better. Maire and Nicole were incredibly kind and kept saying things like, "That map is nutty!" and "It could have happened to anyone!" But there is no getting around the fact that we left Mankato at about 3 o'clock and at 3:20 we saw a sign that said, "Welcome to Mankato!" Needless to say it is not necessary to drive through Mankato twice to get to Murmuring Lake.

I had called "Pleasant Point" which was on the site of the Inn (also originally called Pleasant Point Inn) to see if they had a restaurant.
The fellow I talked to said they had steak frys on Fridays or maybe it was steak fries. Either way it was not Friday so we were out of luck. Luckily I hadn't finished my bag of treats so I dined on them. The site of the Inn is now a campground. It is a nice, shady one but not the Lodge and
bungalow set up I was hoping for.

The lake seemed sunnier than I expected. It was a perfect day. Warm, but not hot. A nice breeze. I always pictured the lake as smaller with over hanging trees all over the shore. More like a New Hampshire lake. However it was big and open. Very pretty.

We decided to try to find Jule Ray's girlhood home. We searched all around the shore and saw nothing that looked like the picture in the companion. We went back out to the main road to see if we could access the other side of the lake when I spotted a driveway with two rocks at the end that looked like they had writing on them. "Hey you two, "I piped up from the back seat where I had been sent like the naughty non-vampire expert I am, "One of those rocks says 'Maud Hart Lovelace', Do you think it could be a clue?"

They agreed that it could very well be and we pulled over and piled out of the car. Sure enough it was Austin Park. There were poplar trees lining the driveway and a nice house at the end of the drive. I said I was going to go to the door and ask if I could tape the view of the lake. Nicole and
Maire said they were going to guard the car. Hmmmm....

I went to the door. it was open and I could hear the TV. I rang the bell and waited. No one answered the door. I shouted back down the driveway to Nicole and Maire (who were standing facing the road, with their hands casually behind their backs as of to say - "We are only paid to take her for a ride in the country when the men in the white coats say she is feeling
well enough to go.") that I was going to the lake side of the house to see if maybe someone was working in the yard from whom I could ask permission.

Here is where my morals and convictions were tested and found wanting. There was no one in the yard. But I REALLY wanted a picture of the bay window. So I stealthily turned on the video camera, threw caution to the winds, whipped off my lenscap and put the camera to my eye as I spun around 360 degrees to get the full (fast) panorama. Then I went back up the
driveway as if I had not just trespassed. I was comforted by the fact that when I
looked through the screen while I was waiting for someone to answer the door I
saw a wooden carving of what appeared to be Betsy Tacy and Tib on the kitchen
table. So I assume that whoever owns the house would be forgiving...

We drove back down to the water and I was thinking about the swimsuit Ihad tucked in my backpack. How many chances does one get to swim in Murmuring Lake in this lifetime? But did I really want to drive back to Mankato with wet hair? What in the world was I thinking? I asked Maire and Nicole if they minded if I went in for a dip and they did not at all. (I am sure they were thinking, "Thank goodness, now we don't have to keep dumbing down the conversation for her!")

So I went to the car and got my bathing suit out. Where to change?
Between the car doors seemed like the best idea. And then a little old man came by walking his poodle. And his poodle figured out what I was up to and decided to stare at me. So I waited. And the poodle waited. And the old man waited. And I waited. And the poodle waited. And the old man finally figured out that he looked like he was awaiting a strip show and dragged the poodle away... So I changed.

After giving specific videotaping instructions to Nicole ("From the
waist up only, please...") I ran into the water.

It was lovely. The sand was smooth, there were no little fish
carcasses, no rocks, the water was warmish from the hot weather. I did some handstands while Nicole took pictures. (one of which I am hoping to post to picturetrail if I can get it to upload after lunch...) I was so glad I decided to go in.

No one got lost on the ride home. Later I had a lovely dinner with
Nicole in a little Irish bar. Then I went back and had drinks while Guusje, Amy, Kristen W. and Michelle had a lovely dinner at the same place. THEN Amy, Kristen, Nicole and I planned the next convention based on Betsy and the Great World. And you had all better write to Amy to nag her to post the particulars, because it is spectacular!

Wednesday morning it was - Goodbye Mankato and I hate even typing the words...

But you can bet I will be back in 5 years!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lincoln Park Photo

I am going to try to post to this blog at least twice a week. Of course I have made a typo in every other word and have apparently forgotten completely how to type. This might be my subconscious minds way of telling me that I really should be grading papers right now. So things are going slowly in spite of my good intentions.

One thing that would inspire me to write posts that are more interesting than this one (a task seemingly not that difficult thus far...) would be if you left comments! Even things like, "Good luck not having a boring post next time, Barb!" would be welcome. Everybody loves comments!

This picture is Midge, Maud and Bick (Tib, Betsy and Tacy) at Lincoln Park! It was a link in my last blog post and I decided to highlight it here. I know Maud is in the middle but I am not sure who is who Midge and Bick-wise. I would assume the one on the left is light haired Tib, but the one on the right appears to have tiny little legs - could she be our petite fraulein? See, now you have somthing to comment about! First poster with the right answer gets a prize! (And yes, a feeling of accomplishment is, in fact, a prize...)

Tune in next week for a shocking post about Grandma Slade and her scandelous past!