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!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Champion!

An email came out on the planning list and it mentioned that the DV blog might need a little update. I thought, "Cheeze whiz, I just updated the doggone thing a minute ago." Imagine my surprise to find out it had been since January! Shocking!

Some updates - apparently the economy is bad. I hadn't heard (she who don't have, don't miss and all that) but apparently people are concerned. So I thought I would list some cost cutting tips for the convention.

First - don't pay to get there! Walk. All the members of the crowd were big walkers. I don't want to hear any of that "Minnesota is a long way away and I live in California!" whining, either. Start early - you'll be fine. Read THE STAND or BOLD SPIRIT for inspiration. You could also hop a freight, but as we all know it can be dangerous and lead to spooney behavior.

Second - hotel rooms are over-rated. Pitch a tent in Lincoln Park and sleep there. Just make sure it is pie-shaped.

Third - don't worry about food - it is included in your registration and is going to be delicious! If you have been eating a lot of Kraft-Mac lately, you are going to thing you died and went to the Murmuring Lake Inn.

In other news, we have a champion over at Harper Collins! Check this out. And take a gander at the icons in her left sidebar to see where she will be this summer.