It's been an incredible weekend, and it's hard to believe that it's over, but as I sit here in Minneapolis typing this final report, I realize that it is. I am so incredibly grateful for all the work that everyone put into this weekend's convention and I'm so happy that I was able to share it with my sister and my baby girl. This morning we rose early to a group breakfast of Waffles with the Hawthornes and then had the choice of several breakout sessions to learn more about the books and the history behind them. We chose the "Violent Study Club" exploration of Vera Neville run by Teresa Gibson who has been studying Vera for the last 12 years. It was fascinating to learn more about this illustrator who means so much to me -- and I love that her main sources of fuel while drawing were a pot of black coffee and cigarettes. It was fascinating to learn about her time studying in New York, living in Georgia and how she and Maud collaborated. Maud would send her the manuscript before it went to the publisher and Vera would illustrate the chapter headings from the manuscript. This explains why "Okto Delta" is misspelled in Vera's illustration in Betsy was a Junior -- she drew that based on Maud's early manuscript, which was later edited from the spelling of "Oktw" to "Okto."
The second breakout we attended was entitled "Muster Your Wits and Your Feet" and there my sister and I, along with my baby girl who was in the baby bjorn, "learned" the waltz, schotisse and the turkey trot. The baby especially loved the schotisse with all the jumping. It was fairly aerobic and now I know how everyone in the Betsy books could pack away the food and stay so slender -- when not walking great distances they were burning calories by dancing.
The breakouts were followed by the keynote speech of the convention by Meg Cabot and she was simply wonderful. She shared with everyone her new foreword to the forthcoming Betsy was a Junior/Betsy and Joe and she had everyone laughing, and at times, sighing in recognition and remembrance. She captured the room.
Our final stop in Mankato on our way out of town was the Glenwood Cemetery where Maud is buried. We visited her grave, and that of Cab's and we also saw Mr. Heinz's on our way out. Maud's grave is modest but behind it a larger stone has been placed by the Maud Hart Lovelace Society and on its two sides it illuminates her contributions to literature. The cemetery is removed from the town and quite beautiful and peaceful.
We headed back up to Minneapolis, feeling somewhat sad that we were leaving Mankato but we drowned our sorrows with one more trip to Culver's, whose butterburgers are now a midwest favorite of mine (and honestly, those have to be the cleanest fast food restaurants I've ever been in).
We drove into Minneapolis with a few landmarks in mind. First was the Bow St. Apt (really 2400 Aldrich Avenue) that Betsy and Joe (Maud and Delos) lived in when they were first married. We found it easily and it looked just as I envisioned it. Next we visited the Canoe Place house, really 1109 West 25th Street, the first house that they owned together.
The last landmark on our list was the house that Mary Richards lived in in the Mary Tyler Moore show and this proved more elusive, but after looping around the same gorgeous and quite swanky neighborhood a few times we finally found the famous house with the rounded tower. And last but certainly not least, and something I'll report on more, but we visited Magers and Quinn Booksellers,the largest independent bookstore in the city and I finally got to meet Jeff Kamin, who writes fabulous monthly guest posts for Book Club Girl on the book club he runs and moderates and MCs at Books & Bars.
Tomorrow we head back home with bags weighed down with Betsy-Tacy swag, and, for me, three different out of print books by Maud Hart Lovelace that I won at the silent auction. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend, one in which I made so many new friends, and it was a dream come true for both my sister and me.