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.


  1. Oooh. I wonder if I can get on the sleeping porch too!

  2. I was just in Mankato on Saturday, and walked by said sleeping porch, as my face turned green with envy, remembering Jen and Barb and Kathy's grand adventure. Alas, no one was in sight, and I was too chicken to knock on the door and ask, "May I please crawl through your closet to your porch?" I also didn't have enough cash on me to offer compensation.

    Anyway, I will try to post a few new photos on the web site.

    I have also decided that I want "Irma's" house (if I can't have "Tib's") -- it is gorgeous.

    Poor "Tony's" house is hard to see from the sidewalk (you can see it if you go in the driveway) and it looks rather derelict. I suppose he was on the road all the time . . . :)