When last we spoke (or I wrote and you read), we were in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, checking out Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Plum Creek. After stopping to peer up at Pa's church bell, we had to hightail it out of town because Walnut Grove is motel-less. We spent the night in glorious Springfield, Minnesota, home of--uh--a place with great milkshakes. Because our private Betsy-Tacy tour wasn't scheduled until 11:00 a.m. the following morning, we drove leisurely the next day and stopped in New Ulm, the Leavenworth of Minnesota. Only, their town is real German, instead of Washington 1950s faux German. Nor was New Ulm only about the bakery we found--it's also the location of Wanda Gag's house!
|It's just me, but I might call it "The WANDA Gag House"|
Wanda who? you ask. Wanda, this Wanda:
What can I say? Minnesota is Literary Land. Border to border. (We'd already stopped in St. Paul to see F. Scott Fitzgerald's house and Sinclair Lewis', and I'd been reading Lewis' Main Street at night, which is set in the more northern town of fictionalized Sauk Centre. But who cares about those two?)
Well, my GPS led me astray--choosing the wrong Center Street in Mankato and landing us miles out of town and potentially late for our tour! Imagine the shrieking and frantic phone-mapping and apologetic voicemail messages left! Imagine us bumping top-speed down a dirt road, trying to reconnect to pavement, and seeing everything--private tour, newspaper interview, dream vacation--going up in a cloud of sand and gravel! This could all have been avoided if Mankato would just rename Betsy's street "Hill Street," like it is in the books. Just another helpful tip.
It turns out we were only six minutes late, and we pulled up to find two tour guides, The Free Press reporter Dan, and the newspaper photographer all waiting on Tacy's porch for us.
|Tacy, like all Minnesotans in winter, isn't big into landscaping|
|Like I said, no pressure to keep up with the Joneses on yard work|
|The window through which Betsy watched Tacy move in|
|The piano! "Howdy, Cy! Mornin', Cy!"|
|The beaded curtain! We just needed our paper dolls and Lady Jane Grey.|
|The commemorative bench!|
Of course I bought a walking guide, so we could check out other houses from The Crowd: childhood Winona's, Carney's, Mrs. Chubbock's, Tony's, and Tib's!
|Still chocolate-colored. Need to trick-or-treat in Mankato so I can see inside.|
|The glass pitcher|
Who knows if I'll ever get back here? I did tell Sue and Susan at the houses that, for the next Betsy-Tacy Convention, they should have a Betsy hairdressing session, and a Betsy dancing one. We shall see...
And the crowning moment of our childhood Betsy portion was the article that appeared in The Free Press the next day. Winona and Betsy would be proud. Not only did our little visit make the front page, with hilariously unflattering picture above the fold, but we shunted dead Margaret Thatcher to the sidebar!
Literary wonderland, indeed. Thanks for reading! I'll have one more post sometime--this one covering the places from Betsy's Wedding.