I found myself unscheduled at the Deli on Saturday, and I woke up with the delightful prospect of choosing ANYTHING to do for a day!
I had options. I had signed up for a bike maintenance workshop which would have dovetailed with my deli work. I need to replace a tire on my old Schwinn bike and I've wanted to figure out the intricacies of tire removal. My husband, the engineer of all talents, has had his time monopolized with water issues around the house.
Water continues to plague Corgi Hollows. This is a typical Minnesotan problem. (We have over 11,000 lakes, and that isn't including the swamps and ponds that make Corgi Hollows sort of an island.) My husband has become a civil engineer recently...
My Facebook reminded me of an event I had clicked "interested" on weeks ago.
"Betsy's Birthday Party"
For years (almost 30) I have driven up and down the 169/60 corridor on my way to and from my parents' home and my parents'-in law home in Iowa.
Mankato is about an hour from Minneapolis.
For me, Mankato is synonymous with Betsy, the heroine of the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I'm one of those people who read the series as a youngster, re-read them as an adult, read them out loud to my home-schooled kids, and generally loved them.
I've always loved historical fiction. I like the history, I like the interesting story lines. I love biography. The Betsy-Tacy series fits all these genres.
Maud is practically retelling her childhood in these books.
As I drove though Mankato I always made a mental note, "I need to stop here and do the Betsy stuff someday!"
That day was Saturday!
I roused Cheri from bed and announced the upgrade in plans. She was game. We quickly jumped in the car and off we drove.
"Betsy's Birthday Party" was advertised as a journal-writing event with cake and punch to celebrate Betsy's April birthday. A tour of the her childhood home was offered as well.
Cheri and I arrived on the dot at 1:00 pm and the fun began!
The Betsy-Tacy society has purchased the two houses in which Betsy and Tacy spent their childhood. Betsy's is refurnished as closely as possible to the way it was for her family in the 1890's. Tacy's house, also with a period flair, is the society's headquarters, with a gift shop and meeting room.
The brass bowl is in Tacy's house. (You need to read the books to know about that.)
We were furnished with a map of Mankato that had all the relevant sites marked on it pertaining to historic events for Maud/Betsy. We drove around finding a few other places (Tib's house, Little Syria, the site of the high school, up the big hill, etc.).
There are photographs of many of the characters depicted in the series, also the "rest of the story" historical facts that fill out any story-line. Original illustrations from the series are framed on the walls of Tacy's house. Mementos and artifacts from Maud-Hart Lovelace's life in California and New York are there. We saw a lot of material that any avid fan could spend hours of time combing through.
The staff at the site are really helpful and friendly. They love the area, and the era 1890-1915. It was fun to chat with them. We sat down over birthday cake and punch to discuss favorite books, interesting details and history. What a fun job for them!
People from all over the world visit this little site. The Betsy series has fans from everywhere. "You've Got Mail," a popular romance movie, specifically mentions the series, and I think sparked modern interest in it.
Lovelace is a gifted writer. Although the books naturally appeal to girls, they interest boys too. I can't recommend them more highly. The transforming era of 1900 is brought to life.
Go find them at the library this week :)
Cheri and I stopped at the Traverse Des Sioux Treaty Site in St. Peter on the way home. That's just off of 169. We made it a real history field trip day.
I miss being able to do this as frequently with Cheri as we did when the older kids were little. Life changes. You simply cannot raise all your kids in the exact same way! Times change, life changes. I cannot feel guilty, though I do sometimes. Cheri has completely different activities and a different environment from what the older ones had.
But it is fun to try to fit in one of these special trips every once in awhile. I'm so glad it worked out for Saturday.
It was a perfect day.