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