November Days in Deep Valley

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From Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace, illustrated by Lois Lenski.

Early in November Betsy made her first expedition to the library. It was a windy day. Gray clouds like battleships moved across a purplish sea of sky.

The big elm in Lincoln Park, bare and austere, pointed the way downtown. She entered Broad Street, passing big houses cloaked in withered vines against November cold.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

The weather was growing wintery. Early in November Betsy looked out her window one morning to find a thin layer of white over the world.

Heaven to Betsy

It was a sunless afternoon. The look of the world spelled the word November.

Betsy In Spite of Herself

It was an overcast day in November. The trees had been striped of their last withered leaves. 

Betsy Was a Junior

 

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My Betsy-Tacy Miracle: A Literary Pilgrimage to Deep Valley

COVER_Page_01Fans of Maud Hart Lovelace and the Betsy-Tacy books will adore this delightful book written by Kathleen Baxter and published by Minnesota Heritage Publishing.

Kathleen explained, “52 years ago, I met a character from a book.  It was a fictitious book, but the characters in it were based on the friends and family of Mankato native Maud Hart Lovelace, who wrote the popular Betsy-Tacy books. The book character I met was Carney, one of Betsy’s best friends, such a good friend that Mrs. Lovelace wrote an entire book based on the high school and college years of her dear friend Marion Willard—Carney’s House Party.  As if meeting her was not enough, I met another important character and his wife—Jabez Lloyd aka Cab Edwards in the books, and his wife Grace, aka Jean.“

“I was not alone when I made a pilgrimage to Mankato (fictional Deep Valley).  I was with college friends who loved the books as much as I do, and it was a truly glorious moment in our lives.  People have been asking me to write this story for many years.  It’s a fun book, loaded with photographs, and reproductions of the letters that Mrs. Lovelace sent to me and letters that the people we met sent to her about our visit, and, astonishingly, reproductions of the letters I sent to her—which she kept all of her life and which her daughter mailed to me a few years after her death.  I’m from Walnut Grove originally, and, yes, of course I love Laura Ingalls Wilder, but not as much as I love Maud Hart Lovelace!”

About the Author: Kathleen Baxter was the head of children’s services at the Anoka County Library for 32 years, then worked for a Mankato publishing company, and has given talks in 46 states as well as 7 in Canada and 2 in Cancun.  She wrote a column in the School Library Journal, the library magazine with the highest circulation in the world, for over 17 years.  She also wrote seven books about children’s books published by Libraries Unlimited/Teacher Ideas Press.

My Betsy-Tacy Miracle: A Literary Pilgrimage to Deep Valley, released October 7, 2017 is available to order online.

What readers are saying about “My Betsy-Tacy Miracle

Received the book yesterday and could not put it down until I had finished the whole thing.         JoAnn K., Montana

I loved reading your story and I adored getting to see the original letters. What a gift to BT fans!           Jennifer D.K., Massachusetts

It was with great joy on a rainy evening I read Kathy Baxter’s wonderful new book, My Betsy-Tacy Miracle.   I had planned to read the first 2 chapters but devoured it.  Now I will go back and reread it at a slower pace.  What a treasure!     Ellen G., Wisconsin

What a wonderful adventure you and your friends had! And all those marvelous photos, and the letters – thank you, so very much, for sharing it all with us. You are a great writer and a gifted storyteller, and I will treasure your book.     Jan G., Oregon

My lovely signed copy of Kathy’s book arrived yesterday afternoon, and I devoured it immediately. Kathy’s writing, along with the letters and pictures, really made the “pilgrimage” come to life!    Peggy O., California

I really enjoyed reading about your adventures, as well as the pictures and the letters. How wonderful that you wrote to Maud and Marion! Not only did they answer you, but their other correspondence shows how much they enjoyed hearing from you.                          Krista B., California

Such a wonderful account of a delightful story! I especially loved how much it inspires to just follow one’s own interests and pursue them however obscure they may appear to other people.      Sonja W., Germany

Authors Inspired by Maud Hart Lovelace Share Their Praise

 

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Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980) (Photo courtesy of the Blue Earth County Historical Society)

The dictionary definition of the word “inspire” is “fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”. Many have been inspired by the writings of Maud Hart Lovelace and this is a collection of quotes from some people you may know or recognize.

“Age 10 was pivotal:  I moved to a new school where the friendly librarian recommended armfuls of books each week.  She turned me onto the Betsy-Tacy series. Then my 4th grade teacher taught creative writing; I loved writing stories.  One of mine attracted attention—a school achievement award, reading it to the PTA, and the librarian sent it to a children’s magazine… my first youthful rejection letter.  I decided to be a writer, just like Betsy. I admired her belief in herself as a writer, and her persistence.  Even now, I’m still so inspired by Betsy, and by Maud, who followed her dreams and wrote books that have had a great influence on so many of us.”  ~ Theresa Jarosz Alberti, author

 “Heavens to Betsy! It was pure bliss to slip away and into the world of these turn-of-the-century Minnesota girls, their families, their friends, their loves. It had been many, many years since I’d spent time with the enchanting Betsy Ray, but after reacquainting myself with these classics, I now realize that one of the reasons I believed I could someday become a writer was because of Betsy’s own infallible confidence that she would be a writer. Hurrah to Harper Perennial for giving us the gift of three gorgeously packaged omnibus re-issues of the Betsy-Tacy-Tib high school books. Don’t worry if you don’t have a young person to buy these delicious books for—be selfish and give ‘em to yourself.”     ~ Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author

 “Some characters become your friends for life. That’s how it was for me with Betsy-Tacy.”  ~ Judy Blume, best selling author

“I was invited to a Breakfast at the Los Angeles Public Library. Writers and illustrators of children’s books were asked to the annual Breakfast to meet librarians. I was awed by the line-up of guests. Lucile and Hilling C. Holling, Conrad and Mary Buff, Eleanor Estes, Leo Politi, Maud Hart Lovelace! Lois Lenski had written to me about Mrs. Lovelace…Elizabeth Riley is her editor, too, and I illustrated the first of the Betsy-Tacy series. They were based on Maud’s childhood in Minnesota, and I worked from family photographs she sent me. While I was doing the pictures, we became good friends. Elizabeth Riley had told me about the Betsy-Tacy books, too. Her three Siamese cats were named Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. Maud Hart Lovelace was one of Crowell’s most successful authors. And here was the great lady in person, a handsome woman with an air of great dignity. Standing in her presence, I couldn’t think of anything to say.”  ~ Clyde Robert Bulla (1914-2007), award-winning author

“Slipping into a Betsy book is like slipping into a favorite pair of well-worn slippers. It’s always a pleasure to live in Betsy’s world for a little while, to experience her simple joys as well as her (thankfully short-lived) sorrows.”  ~ Meg Cabot, best selling author

“The Betsy-Tacy books were among my favorites when I was growing up.”  ~ Nora Ephron (1941-2012), Academy-Award nominated director

“One of the things I find so inspiring about the Betsy-Tacy books is how they can be at once comforting and familiar, focused on small, everyday things, and yet can still so thrillingly capture the grand wonder of life, and ask big, challenging questions. I’m grateful for how they inspire me to see both the small treasures and the big picture, in my own life, and in my own writing.”  ~ Deva Fagan, writer of fantasy and science fiction for teens and tweens

“How could I possibly have missed the Betsy-Tacy books growing up?  Finding them was like coming home.  Maud Hart Lovelace’s skill in creating a world we never want to leave makes the reader in me deliriously happy, while the writer in me simply shakes her head in awe.  Long live Deep Valley!”  ~ Heather Vogel Frederick, author Mother-Daughter Book Club series

“I read Maud Hart Lovelace’s “Betsy-Tacy” series as I was growing in Chicago and was drawn into turn-of-the-century Mankato by the girls’ relationships, problems and daily lives. (Betsy’s obsession with writing was part of the reason I was smitten.) After moving to Mankato in 1978, I realized I lived in Maud’s “Deep Valley,” and being a history buff (and wanna-be time traveler), I began to research the characters and places in the books. The research resulted in my earning six grad credits at MSU-M and the publication of “Betsy-Tacy in Deep Valley: People and Places,” a 58-page soft cover book that has been through several updated printings since 1985. Maud’s books, however, need no updates. They continue to be timeless in their portrayal of three best friends growing up from age five to adulthood.” ~ Carlienne Frisch, author Betsy-Tacy in Deep Valley: People & Places

“To paraphrase Maud, it is difficult now to think of a time when Betsy was not my ‘imaginary’ friend.  Whether I loved her because I was already a writer in my heart, or whether I became one because Maud showed me how a girl might grow up into that, I don’t know.  But knowing Betsy as I did, it made perfect sense that I wanted to write, too.”  ~  Blythe Gifford, historical romance novelist

“I read all the Betsy-Tacy stories in order as I grew up, but it was “Heaven to Betsy” that gave me a girl writer to imagine myself being.  I still reread it every few years—it never disappoints.”  ~ Patricia Hampl, award-winning author

“I came across the Betsy-Tacy books when I was about 14, remembered to look for the author whose name sounded like a valentine.  My cousin Myrna and I were devout fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and became devoted to the citizens of Deep Valley.  So much so that some years later, I sought out Mrs. Lovelace’s phone number at my local library. I was so fan-flummoxed when she actually ANSWERED the PHONE, that I blurted out, “You’re BETSY!”   I can’t know if she actually rolled her eyes heavenward [as I do even now, remembering what a cluck I was], but MHL was gracious. She said, “Well, I’ve written books about Betsy.”  We had a brief conversation in which, I’m ashamed to say, feeling that I might have caused her sorrow, Mrs. Lovelace informed me, in answer to my question, that many of her friends had since passed away. Sigh…Some years later, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Missouri author, Clyde Robert Bulla, who had lived in California & had worked with Elizabeth Riley. Thrilled I was when he told me that he’d MET Mr. & Mrs. Lovelace at a party. He recalled that her lipstick looked rather ‘purple.’  [!]  And that Delos would fluster ladies by complimenting them on their hair then ask, ‘Is that a wig?’   My only other Maud-related memory is the excitement I experienced in 1992, when I first visited Mankato and saw where she’d lived and I walked where she had walked. Bless her forever for the happiness I derived from her books. Mrs. Wilder & Mrs. Lovelace WERE my happy childhood.”  ~ Cheryl Harness, author/illustrator

“There is no series of books that has meant more to me than Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series. If there was one fictional world that I could live in, it would be Betsy’s Deep Valley with all of The Crowd. And thanks to Maud’s timeless stories, it’s a world I can visit over and over again.”  ~ Jennifer Hart, SVP, Associate Publisher, William Morrow

“Family loyalty and the devotion of friends to one another, which for me are the defining characteristics of the Betsy-Tacy stories”  ~ Esther Hautzig, award-winning author, Director of Children’s Book Promotion for Thomas Y. Crowell Co., and publicist for Betsy’s Wedding in 1955.

 “When I was growing up in the Bronx, I had lots of friends. But the girls I most enjoyed spending time with were Betsy, Tacy and Tib. I didn’t need my mother’s permission to invite them over to my house. All I had to do was open one of the books in the series by Maud Hart Lovelace and there they were – three girls full of good ideas, adventures and fun. In time, I introduced my daughter to these girls. Even though I’ve lost touch with many of my childhood friends, Betsy, Tacy and Tib remain just as I remember them and waiting for my granddaughters to join them in games now too.”  ~ Johanna Hurwitz, award-winning author

“Maud’s eventual success as a writer stemmed not only from her talent, but largely from her own determination and perseverance, as well as the fact that she possessed the ability to create books that truly illustrate the joy of life, love, family, and friendship. Maud’s writing may have provided her own life with purpose, promise, beauty, and mystery, but her writing has also proved inspiring to vast number of devoted Betsy-Tacy fans—including me.”  ~ Samantha Johnson, award-winning writer

“I grew up 30 miles north of Mankato, and trips to town were filled with mystery and magic, because I was walking the same streets that Betsy and Tacy once walked. The Betsy-Tacy books spoke of the quiet, invaluable riches right in my own backyard, and, more than any other books, fed my dream of becoming a writer one day.”  ~ Jill Kalz, Minnesota Book Awards Readers’ Choice winner

“Maud Hart Lovelace was truly an inspiration for me.  I didn’t realize how much until recently, when a friend asked me what inspired me to become a writer.  Without hesitation I answered, “It was Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books.”  They were being written as I was growing up. I always received a book from my mother on the occasion of my birthday and Christmas.  If there was a new Betsy-Tacy book available, that is what I received.  I really identified with Betsy, who also loved to write (and did become a writer in real life, as we know.) To add to my reverent feelings about Maud, it turned out that she was the aunt of a good friend of mine, Romie (Rosemond) Lundquist. Romie’s mother and Maud Hart Lovelace’s mother were sisters. Several of Romie’s friends and I got to meet Maud Hart Lovelace at Romie’s house one blissful day. It was inspiring to meet a successful author and I never forgot that day.”  ~ Anne Kerr, author Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels

“I grew up wanting to be a writer, and believing it could be done, in part, because of Betsy.  I identified strongly with her desire to tell stories, and also with her desire to publish those stories; she was someone who collected interesting characters and details when she traveled, kept lists and journals, and resolutely sent her stories out again and again, persevering even when her efforts were met with discouraging strings of rejections.  When Betsy went to high school, she went as a writer, even In Spite of Herself, and when Betsy set out to see the Great World, she went as a writer.  I enjoyed her friendships and her family and her journeys and her adventures, but they all meant much more to me because she was experiencing her life and her world with a writer’s eye for details and stories.  The first moment in the Betsy-Tacy stories which reliably makes me tear up is the scene at the end of Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, when Betsy discovers that her poem has been printed in the newspaper. “The author’s name was Betsy Warrington Ray.”  ~ Perri Klass, MD & author

“Maud Hart Lovelace and her “Betsy-Tacy” series influenced me very much when I was a girl; I identified with Betsy, who wanted to be a writer, as well as the friends’ girl-power.”  ~ Lorna Landvik, best selling novelist

“There are two kinds of women, those who know these books and those who don’t. I reread these books every year, marveling at how a world so quaint – shirtwaists! Pompadours! Merry Widow hats! – can feature a heroine who is undeniable modern.”  ~ Laura Lippman, best selling novelist

“I read the Betsy-Tacy books when I was nine and ten years old, and the high school books later. I remember being moved by how loving and respectful the family members were to each other. My family life was more difficult and complicated, and the stories of Betsy’s family and friendships offered me a wonderful refuge. I don’t think I could have gotten through my childhood without them!”   ~ Fran Manushkin, author

“I am fairly certain that my independent, high-spirited grandmother must have had a childhood similar to Betsy Ray’s…As I read about the School Entertainment and ice cream socials, about ladies leaving calling cards and the milkman with his horse-drawn wagon, I felt that I was having an unexpected and welcome peek into Granny’s childhood—a gift to me from Maud Hart Lovelace”  ~ Ann M. Martin, author of The Baby-sitters Club

“I truly consider Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown to be the finest novel in the English language! I will never love any other books as much as I love the Betsy-Tacy books. Some authors create a warm, joyous world which the reader admires from afar, Maud Hart Lovelace creates her warm, joyous world, and then invites us all to come in and share it.” ~ Claudia Mills, children’s book author, National Book Award and Golden Kite Award winner

Maud’s diary dated Monday, Oct. 4, 1954: “The most wonderful letter from Vera who loves the first chapter [Betsy’s Wedding]. Thinks it had a poetic quality. Her letter was very helpful, as she advises me not to be limited by the hard time I had getting out Betsy and the Great World. Circumstances were so different then. She’s right. I am so terribly impressionable that I never seem to forget, subconsciously, an ordeal such as that one was. Just “roll with the punches,” she says. And tells me to let this book pour out just as it’s started.”  ~ Vera Neville (1904-1979), author/illustrator. Vera illustrated six Betsy-Tacy books and three Deep Valley books by Maud Hart Lovelace.

“What I loved about Lovelace’s stories is that they were about “ordinary children” and “ordinary adventures” that a child could imagine doing in a world where a child would want to live.”  ~ Sheila O’Connor, award winning author

“In the writing of the Island of the Blue Dolphins, I am deeply indebted to Maude and Delos Lovelace.”  ~ Scott O’Dell (1898-1989), Newbery Medal winner for the Island of the Blue Dolphins, did not know that he had written a children’s book until he showed the manuscript to a friend, Maud Hart Lovelace, the author of the Betsy-Tacy books. She told him that it was a book for children, and a very good one.

“I devoured Emily of Deep Valley so often I knew parts by heart. I kept sneak-reading it as a teen and as a college student, hiding my habit while discussing trendy intellectual novels. On wintry evenings, curled up by the fire in New England, I still turn to my copy as comfort fare, drawing nourishment and inspiration from the pages. “Muster your wits; stand in your own defense,” Mrs. Lovelace exhorts us through the power of story, and Emily’s words can always bring me to my metaphorical feet.”  ~ Mitali Perkins, acclaimed children’s writer

“How did Maud influence me? By showing me that the dailyness of life, the quotidian, is novel-worthy.”  ~ Marsha Qualey, award-winning author

“There are three authors whose body of work I have reread more than once over my adult life: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Maud Hart Lovelace. We fell in love, not only with Betsy but with Tacy and Tib and all the others, and wanted to know from year to year what was happening to them. Betsy-Tacy fans never die. They just re-read.”  ~ Anna Quindlen, best selling author, Pulitzer Prize winning writer

“I don’t think I can begin to measure the influence Maud Hart Lovelace has had on me. Her books have always been a safe harbor I could retreat to when the pressures of the real world became overwhelming; her characters served as role models when living, breathing role models were in short supply. Best of all, the books are a joy to read, even after re-reading them steadily for more than 30 years.  Lovelace’s gift as a writer is truly the gift that keeps on giving.”  ~ Amy Dolnick Rechner, author Between Deep Valley and the Great World and A Future in a Handbasket

“The Betsy-Tacy books are timeless stories that transport you back to the days of the horse and buggy and whose characters will become your best friends. Maud Hart Lovelace has given us a wonderful gift in these books that will be treasured forever.”  ~ Julie A. Schrader, author Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley and Discover Deep Valley

“I grew up in Maud’s Deep Valley, and whenever I need to go home again, I reach for the Betsy-Tacy books. It’s like having a childhood best friend who never leaves your side.” ~ Charity Tahmaseb, author The Geek Girls Guide to Cheerleading

“When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, Maud Hart Lovelace’s stories about Betsy and her friends entranced me. I followed Betsy, Tacy, Tib and the others as I too passed through early childhood into an adult world.  Although set in an even earlier period of time, these stories affirmed for me the emotional significance of so-called “ordinary” events in girls’ lives.  Many years later, I am sure she inspired writers like me to write about our own lives, heartened by understanding that “ordinary” is not ordinary at all.”   ~  Susan Allen Toth, author

“As a Minnesota girl, I read the Betsy-Tacy books about a thousand times as a kid. I used to go to sleep at night with one of the books under my pillow whispering to myself about the girls, hoping I’d dream I was playing with them.”  ~ Anne Ursu, award-winning author

“At school visits, when kids ask what books I read as a child, I have only one answer: Betsy-Tacy—the entire series. In the summer I read them lying on a blanket under a massive oak tree. In winter, I read them curled under the covers in my “Hollywood” style bed. When I finished Betsy’s Wedding, I’d start over again. Truthfully I think those were the only books I read as a child. But they were enough to make me know that characters in books had true and honest feelings and that made the difference.  ~ Maryann Weidt, children’s book author and Minnesota Book Award-winning picture book

“One of the great joys of my life was discovering the Betsy-Tacy books as a young editorial assistant at HarperCollins. We were reissuing the books with new covers, and my boss asked me to read them so I could help with catalog copy. I sat down at my desk and fell headlong into the series. I couldn’t believe my good fortune in getting to read them for work! I also couldn’t believe I’d missed them, growing up. By the time Betsy reached high school, I felt like I’d known her my whole life. As a writer, I deeply identified with her yearnings, her struggles, her distractions, her bursts of zeal. One of the other great joys of my life has been sharing Betsy, Tacy, Tib, and the rest of the Crowd with my own girls. I’ve watched all four of my girls fall in love with the books just as wholeheartedly as I did—and it’s been a deep delight to see what a role Maud’s books have played in their childhood and the development of their imaginations.”  ~ Melissa Wiley, children’s book author

 

 

 

Maud and St. John’s Episcopal Church

Like Julia she [Betsy] now loved the new church. And it was not just a matter of wearing a black robe and a black four-cornered hat, of marching down the aisle in candlelight and singing. She loved the kneeling down to pray and the standing to praise. “O All ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord…” That was her favorite canticle.  ~Quote from Heaven to Betsy

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Maud Hart, ca. 1906

In a letter written August 3, 1965, Maud Hart Lovelace responded to a request from Don Larson for some of her memories of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Maud wrote: “I did not grow up with the church. I joined when I was twelve or thirteen, after my older sister Kathleen and I started singing in the choir… and then realized that we were meant to be Episcopalians. We left Mankato when I was eighteen so I was connected with St. John’s only five or six years at most and …as you know from the Betsy-Tacy books…at a very frivolous age. I remember the Memorial service held in 1907 for the beloved Dr. Davis who had confirmed us, and how Kathleen had to stop crying…all of us were crying…in order to sing her solo. The organ we had in those days had to be pumped by hand!”

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Kathleen Hart, ca. 1906

History of St. John’s: February, 1856 marked the first Mankato Episcopal worship services in the log school house on Mulberry Street. In July, 1866 the Warren and Broad Street location was purchased for $550 and Saint John’s Parish was officially organized with six members. In 1867 the first church building was constructed. In 1904 Maud and Kathleen Hart joined the Saint John’s choir and realized “they were meant to be Episcopalians.”  July, 1916’s 100th anniversary was celebrated with a worship service and picnic in Sibley Park. A December 1922, fire destroyed the church building which was rebuilt immediately.  In 1967 the current Saint John’s building was consecrated. In the spring of 1980 Maud Hart Lovelace’s funeral was at Saint John’s and she is buried in Glenwood Cemetery.  2016 was the 150th anniversary year celebrated with special activities in including a worship service and picnic at Sibley Park.

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A piece of stained glass from the church salvaged from the fire in 1922.

On Sunday, April 30, 2017, a unique concert will be held at St. John’s to celebrate the 125th birthday of Maud Hart Lovelace. Popular vocalist Maud Hixson, accompanied by her husband Rick Carlson on the piano, will perform a selection of songs from her CD, Listening For Your Song: A musical companion to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This CD is a collection of songs from the 1900s through WWI that were referred to in Maud Hart Lovelace’s series of Betsy-Tacy books. Special guest appearance by Maria Jette, well-known soprano, and regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Tickets and CD’s are available online. 

Episcopal Church about 1907

St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1907 as it looked when Maud and Kathleen Hart attended.

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St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1965. 

Happy 125th Birthday Maud Hart Lovelace!

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Today marks the 125th birthday of author Maud Hart Lovelace. She was born in a little house located at 214 Center Street (pictured below) in Mankato, MN to Thomas and Stella (Palmer) Hart. The Hart family moved to 333 Center Street when Maud was six months old.

Was Maud really born on April 26, 1892? Maud’s birthday was always celebrated on April 25. However it was not until she was 50 years old that she learned she was technically born on April 26. She had asked her mother about the hour of her birth, and her mother’s response was “pretty near midnight, in fact it was a little after, but only a teeny bit.” Maud replied, “You mean I was born on the 26th?” Her mother answered, “I suppose so. It was after midnight, a half hour or so.” She Birth homewent on to tell her the story that Maud’s Uncle Jim Hart had become engaged in April 1892 to a widow named Maud Fowler Maloney while Stella was pregnant. Maud Maloney’s birthday was April 25, and Stella had told her that if her baby was born on the 25th, she would be named Maud. Stella went into labor on the 25th, but the baby wasn’t born before midnight. She explained that “they all liked Aunt Maud so well, I fudged on the date.” All legal records show Maud’s birth date as April 25. And so we continue to celebrate Maud’s birthday on April 25, just as she always did.

In Mankato, we’re commemorating this milestone birthday with a proclamation, a birthday party and a concert!

Mankato Mayor, Eric Anderson, has proclaimed today to be Maud Hart Lovelace Day! On Saturday, April 29, the Betsy-Tacy Society will host “Betsy’s Birthday Party” at the 5th b.dayBetsy and Tacy houses (childhood homes of Maud and her best friend, Frances “Bick” Kenney) complete with party games and birthday cake. On Sunday, April 30, the BTS has partnered with St. John’s Episcopal Church to host a very special concert. Popular vocalist Maud Hixson, accompanied by her husband Rick Carlson on the piano, will perform a selection of songs from her CD, Listening For Your Song: A musical companion to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This CD is a collection of songs from the 1900s through WWI that were referred to in Maud Hart Lovelace’s series of Betsy-Tacy books. Special guest appearance by Maria Jette, well-known soprano, and regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. will join Hixson in singing Rossini’s “Cat Duet”. Fans of the Betsy-Tacy books will recognize St. John’s Episcopal Church from the Betsy-Tacy books. Characters Julia and Betsy join the Episcopal Church to sing in the choir. Tickets for this concert are still available.

So whether or not Maud was born on April 25 or April 26, we celebrate the milestone birthday of a beloved author whose character of Elizabeth (Betsy) Warrington Ray in the Betsy-Tacy books would inspire women and girls for generations.

Proclamation MHL Day 4.25.2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Deep Valley

Remembering Frances “Bick” Kenney and her Irish family (Tacy and the Kelly family) on St. Patrick’s Day.

March and St. Patrick’s Day brought the annual supper in the basement of the Catholic Church. Katie and Tacy with shamrocks on their shirt waists, green bows in their hair, waited on the Ray’s.  A quote from Heaven to Betsy. 

St. Pats card

She [Tacy] was a tall girl who wore her auburn hair in coronet braids. There was a peachy bloom on her cheeks; her Irish blue eyes looked both laughing and afraid. Tacy had been shy as a child and she was still diffident with teachers, some parents, most boys. But with Betsy and Tib she bubbled over with fun. A quote from Betsy Was a Junior 

Fun Fact: The Kenney family attended St. John the Baptist Catholic Church when they lived in Mankato. The annual tradition of the St. Patrick’s Day annual dinner in the basement of the church dates back to 1885 and continues to this day.

Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley 2017 Calendar

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I’m excited to share my most recent project, “Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley” 2017 calendar. This full color wall calendar features 12 charming historical photographs from turn of the 20th century Mankato, MN (Deep Valley). Accompanying each photograph are quotes and history related to the Betsy-Tacy books. Great for gift giving this holiday season or treat yourself and enjoy Maud’s Deep Valley every day of the year! Order the calendar online today. Limited quantities, so get yours while supplies last!

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Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961, Part 3

(This is continued from Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961 and Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961, Part 2)

Mankato Free Press reported on October 9, 1961:

‘Betsy-Tacy Days’ Draw Huge Crowds of Children

Enthusiasm for the Betsy-Tacy books and their author rose to a high pitch Saturday afternoon when a veritable flood of children rushed from their guided tours of the books’ locale to the Mankato public library.

It was here that the popular writer of the Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace, held court, autographing the many copies purchased by local school children. She also took time to chat with some of the parents present, at least 450 in all.

Hostesses at the library included Isadora Veigel, head librarian, and her staff and A.A.U.W. members Emma Weicking, chairman for the afternoon, Signe Sletten, Mrs. Al Roehl and Mrs E.J. Halling.

The Blue Earth county librarian, Gilford Johnson, also assisted in receiving the youngsters who assembled in the children’s room. Attracting attention was the bride mannekin [sic] at the door, “Betsy,” in her wedding finery complete with veil.

Circulating in the crowd were six little girls in costume—Lydia Sorenson, Kathy Frahm, Margaret Hanson, Cindy Cooper, Janet Burns and Marla Sugden.

A highlight of the afternoon’s festivities was a coffee party given by Mrs. Fred Marlow at her home, 332 Center street, the original “Tacy” house, where over 50 guests stopped.

Mrs. Marlow was assisted by Mrs. Orville Schwankl and Mrs. Harold Dickmeyer in entertaining the elementary teachers of Mankato who led the children’s tours and the old-time friends of Mrs. Lovelace.

Adding interest to the Betsy-Tacy days were the displays of old-fashioned dresses and furniture in Brett’s store windows created by John Turner, and many from out of town admired the antiques exhibited at the Blue Earth county museum on Saturday and Sunday. General chairman for the “days,” which drew a much larger attendance than expected, was Dr. Anna Wiecking. (From Mankato Free Press, October 9, 1961)

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Six girls had been chosen to dress as Betsy, Tacy and Tib for the weekend. “Nadine Sugden had much to do with finding the six girls to be Betsys and Tacys,” said Kathryn Hanson. “We had two redheads for Tacy, Cindy Cooper and Janet Burns, but we needed another one age 5 or 6. One day driving home on Willard Street, Nadine saw a cute little redhead, so she went to the house and asked her surprised mother if she could be included. After some checking, Mrs. Paul Frahm was convinced that no harm would come to Kathy, so we were set. I remember that my daughter, Margaret, wore my mother’s confirmation dress and Marla Sugden wore another dress of my mother’s. The girls sat in the front seats at Lincoln School auditorium for the Saturday morning program and Saturday afternoon at the library.

Margaret Hanson who was 10 years old at the time and recalled that she was fascinated with Maud’s discussion of creating characters at the Lincoln School program. “I remember Maud said Tony wasn’t based on one person like so many of them were,” said Margaret. She also remembered being at the home of Bert and Inella Burns on Byron Street for the pictures of the six “Betsy-Tacys that appeared in the paper. “I was wearing my grandmother’s confirmation dress and I was thrilled every time I got to put it on,” she said.

The Blue Earth County Museum featured a turn-of-the-century exhibit. In 1961 the county museum was housed in the Hubbard House on South 5th Street. The curator, G.S. Petterson and a special committee selected articles from the museum and got others on loan that were in use during the period of the stories, from about 1897 to 1917. Maud loaned some personal items for the exhibit, such as pictures of herself, and her family and friends, and a Japanese version of a Betsy-Tacy book. Even the steam whistle from the “Big Mill” was on display.

Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961 – Part 2

(This is continued from the previous post – Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961)

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Maud Hart Lovelace addresses parents, teachers, librarians, and children in the Lincoln School auditorium on October 6, 1961. Seated are (L-R) Kathryn Hanson, President of the AAUW and Mary Lou Hanson, District #77 elementary school principal and daughter of Eleanor Wood Lippert [Dorothy] . Photo courtesy of the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

The weekend celebration for Betsy-Tacy Days weekend began with a program held in the auditorium of the Lincoln School. The Free Press reported on October 7, 1961:

Large Crowd Welcomes Mrs. Lovelace

A large crowd of men and women welcomed Mrs. Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy books, at the Lincoln school auditorium, Friday evening, the first of Betsy-Tacy Days in Mankato.

Mrs. Lovelace, guest of honor for two days in Mankato, under the sponsorship of the American Association of University Women, opened her talk by introducing some of the women who figured as characters in her series of children’s books on Mankato.

These included Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris of Chicago, (Tib), Mrs. Charles Kirch of Buffalo, N.Y., (Tacy), Mrs. Ruth Williams of Port Orchard, Wash., (Alice), Mrs. Beulah Hunt Ilgenfritz of St. Petersburg, Florida, (Winona), and Mrs. Mildred Oleson Cahill of Waseca, Minn., (Irma).

Pouring at the coffee table after the talk by Mrs. Lovelace, were Mrs. Jabez Lloyd, who was Irene in the Betsy-Tacy book, Mrs. Tom Edwards, Mrs. Elmer Lippert, and Mrs. J.W. Harty, all old-time friends of the author here in Mankato.

Mrs. Vernon Hanson, president of the Mankato branch of the A.A.U.W., presided at the meeting, and Mrs. Ellsworth Hansen of the new Jefferson School at James Fairfield [sic] introduced Mrs. Lovelace. This new school is on the site of Mr. Meecham’s house which is mentioned in the Betsy-Tacy books.

Testifying to the great demand for the books was the fact that 170 were sold during the evening, with the first four of the series being the most popular. Many Mankatoans, especially children, who had not read the Betsy-Tacy series, over a dozen volumes in all, will be doing so during the coming months.

1961-ticketDr. Anna Wiecking was general chairman for the Betsy-Tacy Days. The event brought together many of Maud’s childhood friends – friends that Maud used as characters in her books. Thomas Crowell Co., publisher of the Betsy-Tacy books, sent Marjorie Barr, promotion director of children’s books, from New York.

Former AAUW president, Kathryn Hanson, now a Betsy-Tacy Society member, recalled, “While the Free Press photographer was taking the picture of Betsy, Tacy and Tib outside Lincoln School on that beautiful October day, Beulah Hunt Ilgen-Fritz (Winona) stood and visited with me. I visited more one-on-one with her than with the others. Beulah had a sense of style in her dress and manners and made you feel that she really knew her way around. Marjorie was a short little thing —and one could see her as a dressmaker. Bick had a pleasant smile, but both of them let Maud be the center of attention. Maud was very gracious and friendly. She welcomed questions after her speech and when the children swarmed around her after her Saturday morning speech. She offered that I could send her books I would wish to give my youngest daughter for her to autograph, and I did that several times.”

The Saturday festivities featured a 10 am program for children at the Lincoln School auditorium. Maud spoke to the children about her books, took their questions, and autographed books. On Saturday afternoon the Mankato Public Library hosted an open house, where Maud again spoke to the children and autographed books. Well-known illustrator Paul Galdone made the posters for the event which were displayed at the Mankato Public Library, Brett’s Department Store and the Free Press stationary store. Brett’s Department Store windows featured Betsy-Tacy-themed displays made by John Turner. They consisted of period dresses and furniture.

Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961

Mankato Honors Maud Hart Lovelace in 1961

In June 1961 the Mankato Free Press reported “Betsy Tacy Day’ is planned for October.” The Mankato Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) had been working on plans to bring Maud Hart Lovelace to Mankato, her childhood home.

The idea for the event was suggested at an AAUW board meeting that was held at the home of the board president, Kathryn Hanson, in May 1961. Ellen Skibness, a professor at Mankato State University, proposed the group sponsor a Betsy-Tacy weekend because Maud had grown up in Mankato and was writing about Mankato and most of the major characters were still living. The proposal was quickly accepted and it was decided that Dr. Anna Wiecking, who lived in the house across the street from the Gerlach house (Tib’s house) and knew many of the people involved, would be the general chair for the event.

The AAUW group was active all summer making plans and preparations. On August 19, 1961, the Mankato Free Press reported: “Mankato and the surrounding area will have a literary ‘treat’ this fall due to the efforts of the American Association of University Women, Mankato Branch. Maud Hart Lovelace, who lives at Claremont, California, and is famous for her Betsy-Tacy stories throughout the United States, will come to Mankato October 6 and 7 to speak to her admirers and friends.”

Betsy-Tacy Days was made official by a proclamation by Mankato Mayor Rex Hill, who said Mrs. Lovelace’s visit to Mankato “would be of great interest to Mankatoans since the author was born and reared in our community.”

Maud 1961 Free Press

This photo of Maud Hart Lovelace was found in the Free Press files for October 6, 1961. The photo was never published.

Betsy-Tacy Author Planned Only 1 Book

(Mankato Free Press- Friday, October 6, 1961)

“When I wrote my first Betsy-Tacy book I never planned to write another. But the children wanted more of them,” related Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy series of books for girls.

Mrs. Lovelace is the guest of honor this weekend at Betsy-Tacy Day in Mankato, an event sponsored by the Mankato branch of the American Association of University Women.

“The Betsy-Tacy books have been rewarding to me because of the correspondence from children in every state in the Union,” said Mrs. Lovelace, a native of Mankato. “The children ask me about characters in the books and they tell me what books they want next.”

Mrs. Lovelace wrote her first Betsy-Tacy book in 1940 and 11 others in the series have followed. Other children’s stories have also been written by her since the advent of the Betsy-Tacy tales.

“I’ve always written. I sold my first story when I was 18 years old to the Los Angeles Times while visiting my grandmother in California. ‘No. 8’ was the title of the article. It was the number of a streetcar somebody was murdered on. That’s all I can remember about it. It sold for $10.

“My second story was called ‘Three Roses.’ My husband always said it should have been ‘Four Roses.’

“I married Delos Lovelace in 1917. He wrote short stories for The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines but I wasn’t good at short stories. He suggested I write novels,” remarked Mrs. Lovelace.

Mrs. Lovelace did write novels, six of them. Two were written with her husband. The first was “The Black Angels,” a book which was staged in Blue Earth county.

Ft. Snelling is in the background for “Early Candlelight.” “One Stayed at Welcome” relates to Minneapolis and the Fairmont area is the setting for “Gentlemen from England.” “Petticoat Court” and “The Charming Sally” were the novels written with her husband. [Editor’s note: Books co-authored by Maud and Delos Lovelace were “One Stayed at Welcome,” “Gentlemen from England” and “The Golden Wedge: Indian Legends of South America.”]

Mrs. Lovelace said she developed her interest in children’s stories when she started telling stories to her daughter, Merian, who is now the wife of a magazine editor in New York City, N.Y., and also a short story writer.

Mrs. Lovelace’s husband has continued his writing since retiring from the staff of the New York Telegram and Sun. He has written a biography of former President Eisenhower for children and two other juvenile books in recent years.

The next Maud Hart Lovelace book will be entitled, “Betsy’s Bettina.” “I have done some work on the book but it really hasn’t started rolling.” The latest in the Betsy-Tacy series will be about the child of Betsy and her husband.

Mrs. Lovelace has not visited Mankato since 1953. She moved to Minneapolis from Mankato in 1910, the year she graduated from Mankato high school, but still recalls what the city was like then.

“I lived at 333 Center Street. At that time the hills at the end of Center were completely wild. We called it the Big Hill. Now it is called Sumner Hill. There were only one or two houses on the hill then.

There is another great change. The slough is gone. The high school is on it.

“We drove up Front Street last night. The only change I notice is the traffic. My father had a shoe store on Front street. He sold it to Wood and Sterling. The rest of the town looks quite natural to me,” she commented.

“The college was the Normal school then with only two or three buildings. The second house I lived in during high school in Mankato is now the journalism house at Mankato State college.

“I can’t imagine a more wonderful place than Mankato for children to grow up. There is something about it that is friendly. I’ve always loved it. Being large won’t change it,” said Mrs. Lovelace.

With Mrs. Lovelace, who is Betsy in her series of books, are other persons who are the basis for characters in the stories.

Maud 1961a

Maud Hart Lovelace, famed author of the Betsy-Tacy series of book for girls, is in Mankato this weekend to take part in Betsy-Tacy day. Seen with Mrs. Lovelace, who is sitting, are (left to right) Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris of Chicago, who is the character of “Tib” in the Betsy-Tacy books; Mrs. Charles Kirch of Buffalo, N.Y., who is “Tacy,” and Mrs. Ruth Williams of Port Orchard, Wash., “Alice” in the series. This is the first time the group has met in nine years. (Free Press Photo) [Editor’s note: This photograph is from the Free Press files and was published October 6, 1961.]

They include: Mrs. Frances Kenney Kirch (Tacy), of Buffalo, N.Y.; Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris (Tib) of Chicago, Ill.; Mrs. Beulah Hunt Ingenfritz (Winona) of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Mrs. Ruth Williams (Alice) of Port Orchard, Wash.; and Mrs. Mildred Oleson Cahill (Irma) of Waseca. Other characters in the books are Mankatoans, Mr. and Mrs. Jabez Lloyd (Cab and Irene) and Mrs. Eleanor Wood Lippert (Dorothy).

Also in Mankato is a life-long fan of the Betsy-Tacy stories, Libby Demp, of Philadelphia, Pa. Miss Demp has corresponded with Mrs. Lovelace since the first of the books appeared on the market. “I always wanted to be a writer. I admired the characters in the books,” said Miss Demp, who is chairman of public relations for the Academy of Natural Science, the oldest natural history center in the country.

Miss Demp and another Philadelphia woman have written a book on secretarial careers for young women which will be published next year. “Mrs. Lovelace has been an inspiration in my writing. When I signed the contract for this book I phoned her first.”

After leaving Mankato, Miss Demp will visit Minneapolis and Milwaukee, other settings for the Betsy-Tacy books, prior to returning to Philadelphia.

Mrs. Lovelace will speak at Lincoln school at 8 p.m. today. Saturday she will give a talk to children at the school at 10 a.m. She will autograph books at the Mankato public library from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

From 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there will be a “turn of the century” exhibit of items in use during the Betsy-Tacy period, including some personal items belonging to Mrs. Lovelace. The exhibit will be at the Blue Earth county museum.

Also, there will be foot tours of the locales of the Betsy-Tacy stories.

Monday, Mrs. Lovelace will visit friends in Minneapolis. Wednesday she will return to her home in Claremont, Calif.