Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mankato, MN 7/30/11

After saying goodbyes to the Mummes, we headed to Mankato. We had lunch at Pita Pit. We all liked this lunch with fresh filling food and Lamb 3 had a cheese quesadilla.
As far as I could tell Betsy Tacy tours are only given on Saturday afternoons. This does not work well for a pastor's family, but we made it work. You can pay to have a special appointment for a tour other days of the week. I think if I were to do this again I would do that-there were quite a few people at Betsy's house and it might be nice to just be on your own with a tour guide at a different time than Saturday afternoon.
I know it will be difficult for you to believe that I never heard of the Betsy Tacy books before a few years ago and I only began reading the Betsy Tacy books a few months ago. I have 2 more Betsy Tacy books left to read.
We began at Tacy's house. The living room area is a small museum with photos of the high school crowd, photos of Betsy and Tacy's real life families and other items. The kitchen has a large desk where you pay for tours of Betsy's house. The main room on this floor is just used as an entryway, I assume it was the dining room for Tacy's large family. It was hard for me to believe that Tacy's large family lived in such a small home. There is a small room off of this dining room that has the items for sale in the gift shop. I don't know if that small room was a bedroom or what. Because of fire code visitors can not go upstairs in the Betsy or Tacy homes. Tacy's home was bought after Betsy's home by the Betsy Tacy Society. Tacy's home still needs more restoration work done than Betsy's. I didn't take photos inside Tacy's home because I was too busy picking items from the gift shop! The Lambs were busy choosing Mr. Small books illustrated by Lois Lenski, I "needed" some treats for myself (hey, I'm a Mama of all BOYS so I take the chance to get girly stuff when I can!), I wanted to get my goddaughter a treat, and on top of all that they had a big sale in the gift shop.

There are only 3 of these plaques in MN and we saw two of them on the same day. The third one is on Fitzgerald's home in the Twin Cities.

Tacy's house

Next we took the tour of Betsy's house. Lamb 1 and Ewe took the whole tour. Lamb 2 and 3 took a little of the tour but they soon got bored so Ram took them outside.
Betsy's kitchen. Green paint was said to keep the flies away. The tour guide said that made sense because green and blue paint had arsenic in them, white and other colors had lead in them. I found the stove interesting-that is not what I pictured "Everything Pudding" being made on. The stove does look like the illustration in the book. The stove is very different to come out from the wall the way it does.

Betsy's dining room. The Betsy Tacy Society got the lamp off of E-bay to match an illustration in the book. Notice the telephone on the wall too.

Another view of Betsy's dining room, you can see the front door. The trunk is like Betsy's trunk that she kept in her room for writing-has a flat top unlike most trunks.

The bedroom added onto the kitchen to make room for Betsy's younger brother. But her younger brother turned out to be Margaret so this bedroom was used for the hired girl instead of her brother. When this addition was made Betsy and Tacy got their sand for their sand store. I found it interesting that the hired girls of this time were usually high school girls who were from the country and moved to town to go to high school. They had free room and board and were able to go to high school in town in return for helping the mothers with the housework. I had not thought about the hired girls being high school age until the tour guide said this.

The sitting room with Thomas Hart's (Betsy's real life father) chair.

The parlor with a piano. There is a door directly across from the piano. Somehow before visiting the home, I pictured the parlor on the opposite side of the dining room and the piano on the opposite side of the room too. It was interesting to see the real house after what I had imagined from reading the book.

Here's the floor plan of the house. (as best as I can type it without drawing a picture!)

front door(opens to dining room)     front door (opens to parlor)
dining room                                  sitting room
back door (opens to kitchen) back steps to upstairs  bedroom added on

Of course I had to take a photo of the books on the bookshelf, many were mentioned in the Betsy Tacy books.

Betsy's house-front porch wasn't quite what I imagined either, so interesting to see the real porch.

After we toured Betsy's house we walked up the "big hill" (about one block from Betsy and Tacy's homes on the corner) and sat on the bench where Betsy and Tacy often had picnics. Their moms would dish up their food for supper and they would meet up at the bench and eat their own suppers together.

I think this is Tib's home. There was some construction on the streets in the area and we parked down the street and I walked down to take this photo. Tib's home is not owned by the Betsy Tacy Society and has no markings to say it is Tib's home. I believe it was about one block down and then you turn and go two more blocks. In the books I pictured it as much farther away than it was. But for young children, when two lived across the street from each other, I guess Tib's home was much farther away.

After we were done touring the Betsy Tacy homes then we went to the new public library and saw the Maud Lovelace wing. There were original illustrations by Lois Lenski and this mural there. We also did a little shopping in their used library bookstore while we were there! :)

I would have liked to have gone to more Betsy Tacy sites in Mankato, but the Lambs were at the end of their attention spans and we only had one afternoon. There is a brochure both online and at the sites to tell you more sites besides the Betsy Tacy homes that you can see. But Lovelace said herself that it is difficult to go to many of the sites in an automobile in modern day Mankato when she talks about walking and later going in a horseless carriage to the Mankato of the early 1900's. Add in that the books are fiction added to her memories of growing up and it might be impossible to find some of the sites in the books.

After seeing the Betsy Tacy homes then we did a little shopping when we were in the "big city" including stopping at New Ulm and getting Schells beer and root beer. We ate supper at Applebees with a gift card redeemed from a Pampers program. (Which reminds me to start typing in those codes again and redeem some more!) We got home fairly early for a trip for us in order to get some sleep before church the next morning.

I think often we don't go to historical sites/museums/etc. that are near us. We are too busy to go to things near us. When we lived in Fort Wayne I know many of my friends had never been to the Lincoln Museum. A few years ago the Lincoln Museum closed. I am trying to go to sites/museums that are within a days drive of us. Last summer I went to Walnut Grove, MN and this summer we all went to the Betsy Tacy homes. We are trying to work out a time to go to DeSmet, SD. Perhaps we will have a chance to go to some of these sites again when the Lambs are older. But my goal is to go now and not put it off in case we don't have that chance again. I want to challenge you to go to a museum/historical site that is within a day's drive that you haven't gone to before (or haven't gone to for a long time). Don't put it off because you don't know if you will have another chance. I am so glad we got to see the Betsy and Tacy homes-it brings the books to real life more even if Betsy and Tacy are make believe versions of Maud and Frances.
If you have not see the Betsy Tacy Society website, it was very helpful for planning our visit and if you live too far away to go to the Betsy Tacy homes it doesn't have a virtual visit, but it has lots of interesting information. If you have not read the books then I would recommend checking them out from the library!

1 comment:

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing all this information. I've never read any of the Betsy and Tacy books. I'll have to look for them at the library. Thanks!