It probably will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I enjoy reading the books by Maud Hart Lovelace that feature her childhood self, Betsy Ray.
Lovelace wrote about her childhood in Mankato, Minn., thinly disguised as a community called Deep Valley, and her friendships with two other girls that became lifelong friends. The first book, Betsy-Tacy, shows readers how Betsy met Tacy, the five-year-old across the street from her house, and their epic friendship. The pair could see each other from their bedroom windows, and send messages.
I recently brought my storytelling students to the former homes of Lovelace and Tacy’s true-life counterpart, Frances Kenney. Both homes have been lovingly restored by the Betsy-Tacy Society. While I’ve visited them several times, with this private tour, I finally had a chance to peek out Tacy’s window to see Betsy’s house across the street.
I admit I geeked out a little. I’ve been focusing on experiences and how they can inspire us to be creative, to seek stories, and to tell them. In this instance, I had an opportunity to stand in Tacy’s shoes, peek out her window, and see her best friend’s window across the street. I definitely felt inspired, and I took the picture that represents this post. I found that experience to be immediately applicable to the overall lesson of the class; my glee in the moment could be reflected in the grins of my students.
The Betsy-Tacy houses will open for the season with a party honoring Betsy’s birthday: April 14. While the upstairs portion of the Tacy house is not normally open to the public, the lower floor houses family artifacts and a gift shop, and it’s a gathering place for those looking to tour Betsy’s house across the street. Other sites mentioned in the Betsy-Tacy books can be found all over Mankato, and a handy QR code on Tacy’s front porch will unlock a tour. you can follow on your phone.