Friday, October 28, 2011

The Mankato (Deep Valley) Carnegie Library

The Mankato Carnegie Library looking like it might
have on the snowy day Betsy first visited it.
The small white marble temple was glittering with newness. Betsy went up the immaculate steps, pulled open the shining door.
    She entered a bit self-consciously, never having been in a library before. She saw an open space
with a big cage in the center, a cage such as they had in the bank, with windows in it. Behind rose an orderly forest of bookcases, tall and dark, with aisles between them.
    Betsy advanced to the cage and the young lady sitting inside smiled at her. (Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, 560).
This quote from the fourth Betsy-Tacy book describes Betsy's first visit at Deep Valley's brand new Carnegie Library, which Mr. Ray introduced us to a few pages earlier:
This desk in the in the library today looks
similar to the one Lois Lenski drew (see
above left image). {Source}
"But if you're going to be a writer," he went on, "you've go to read. Good books. Great books. The classics. And fortunately ... that's what I'm driving at ... Deep Valley has a new Carnegie Library, almost ready to open. White marble building, sunny, spick and span, just full of books."
    "I know," Betsy said.
    "That library," her father continued, "is going to be just what you need. And your mother and I want you to get acquainted with it. Of course it's way downtown, but you're old enough now to go downtown alone." (Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, 555)
Here is a little background on the Mankato Carnegie Library:
The Mankato Public Library and Reading Room, now known as the Carnegie Art Center is one of 65 public libraries built in Minnesota with funds from Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation. Between 1899 and 1917, Carnegie, a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist contributed close to 1 million dollars towards library construction in Minnesota. This makes Minnesota the eighth largest recipient of Carnegie Library grants in the United States.

The Mankato Public Library and Reading Room is a one storey brick building that sits on a raised basement of rusticated limestone with a smooth stone water table. Unique features of the Mankato Public Library and Reading Room were the rotunda for the stacks (book shelves) and the budget set aside for interior paint decoration.
Minnesota Beautiful provides more information on the history of this building:
Mankato is home to one of the Carnegie Libraries.  Carnegie believed in the right for everyone to have access to information and granted funds to different communities to build their library.  Most of them have some of the same architectural characteristics to put the stamp of Carnegie on them.  The one in Mankato is not an exception to this rule.
The Library also is the Art Center showcasing local and regional artists works which change on a regular basis.  It is the largest visual arts center in Southern Minnesota.  It offers art education courses for the public .
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
For more background on who Andrew Carnegie was, visit this page on the National Park Service website:
One of 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s many philanthropies, these libraries entertained and educated millions. Between 1886 and 1919, Carnegie’s donations of more than $40 million paid for 1,679 new library buildings in communities large and small across America. Many still serve as civic centers, continuing in their original roles or fulfilling new ones as museums, offices, or restaurants.
The patron of these libraries stands out in the history of philanthropy. Carnegie was exceptional in part because of the scale of his contributions. He gave away $350 million, nearly 90 percent of the fortune he accumulated through the railroad and steel industries.
And from Wikipedia (a dubious source, I know, but I thought this was interesting):
The design of the Carnegie libraries has been given credit for encouraging communication with the librarian. It also created an opportunity for people to browse and discover books on their own. "The Carnegie libraries were important because they had open stacks which encouraged people to browse....People could choose for themselves what books they wanted to read," according to Walter E. Langsam, an architectural historian and teacher at the University of Cincinnati. Before Carnegie, patrons had to ask a clerk to retrieve books from closed stacks.
This comparison, from the back of Betsy and Tacy Go
, shows that Lenski probably got her
inspiration for the Deep Valley Carnegie Library
from the Mankato one.
 To close, here is a description of what may be the coziest library ever:
The Children's Room was exactly right for children. The tables and chairs were low. Low bookshelves lined the walls, and tempting-looking books with plenty of illustrations were open on the tables. There was a big fireplace in the room, with a fire throwing up flames and making crackling noises. (Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, 562)
Betsy took off her hat and coat. She was the only child in the room. Others came in shortly, but now she was all alone. She seated herself in the chair nearest the fire, piled the books beside her and opened Tanglewood Tales. But she did not start to read at once. Before she began she smiled at the fire, she smiled at her books, she smiled broadly all around the room. (Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, 563)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Herbert Humphreys Look-a-Like

I just noticed this today: Ryan Gosling looks a lot like Herbert Humphreys (or Helmus Andrews, I should say)! Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Source for image on left.

What do you think? 

I don't know much about Mr. Gosling; apparently he is an actor. But quite unsurprisingly, I am a lot fonder of "the glorious Herbert Humphreys" (to quote Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown). I really love good-natured Herbert in the books, and always secretly wished he would've married Betsy or Tacy or Tib.

Here is a quote of one of the first mentions (I actually think it might be the very first) of Herbert in the books: 
    "This going around with boys makes me sick," said Tacy.    "I like Herbert Humphreys," said Tib.    It was just like Tib to like a boy and say so.    "Oh, if you have to have a boy around, it might as well be Herbert," said Betsy, who liked him too.    "He wears cute clothes," said Tacy, blushing.    Herbert Humphreys, who had come to Deep Valley from St. Paul, wore knickerbockers. The other boys in their grade wore plain short pants. (Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, 471)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"The Cat Duet"

Have you ever wondered what "The Cat Duet" sounded like? I know I have! My curiosity was finally satisfied when this video was recently posted on the BetsyTacyTib Twitter.

Betsy and Tacy first sing this duet in Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, when they prepare it for the School Entertainment on the last day of fourth grade.
Betsy and Tacy were singing a duet made up entirely of "meows." They were going to wear cat costumes cut from shiny black cambric, with cat ears and tails. Mrs. Ray and Mrs. Kelly were busy making the costumes and Mrs. Ray was busy too rehearsing Betsy and Tacy. They ran into difficulties for Betsy was singing alto. It was altogether too easy for her to slide up into the soprano part and sing along with Tacy.
    When she did that, Tacy gave her a nudge which meant, "Get back to your alto!" Betsy's mother sounded the right note hard and Betsy got back to her alto as quickly as she could. (Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, 340-341)
Betsy's mother began to play the piano and Betsy and Tacy began to sing: "Mee-ee-ow! Mee-ee-ow!"
    Like a kettle  boiling over, the room foamed with laughter.
    And the louder the children laughed, the louder Betsy and Tacy made their caterwauls, the more they wiggled their ears and swished their tales. Sometimes Betsy slid up to the soprano and sang along with Tacy, but nobody cared. Tacy forgot to nudge her and Mrs. Ray forgot to pound the right note hard. When the Cat Duet ended, the children clapped and stamped. Mothers wiped tears of laughter from their eyes and Miss Dooley said:
    "Betsy and Tacy will have to sing the Cat Duet for us next year."
    And so they did. In fact they sang it every year until they graduated from high school. (Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, 345-346)
Thus the Cat Duet became an annual tradition for the two friends, one that continued well into high school (and is mentioned in these later books, as well).

So now you get to hear what it actually sounds like (though I'm sure Betsy and Tacy's version was much funnier, and probably a bit less professional)! 

This is the description on You Tube from the video below:
For cat lovers - and Gioachino Rossini lovers - everywhere, this is one of the better renditions of Duetto buffo di due gatti (Humorous Duet for Two Cats), which was likely written not by Rossini but by Robert Lucas de Pearsall and based on Rossini's 1816 opera Otello. See for more info.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wildflowers in Betsy-Tacy and Tib

On a recent re-read of the early books in the series, I noticed that Maud mentions a lot of Minnesota wildflowers. Since many of these were new to me, I decided to look them up to see what they looked like. (With names as intriguing as butter-and-eggs and Indian pipes, I was curious!) I left out the common ones, like clover and daisies, but here are some visuals of the flowers mentioned in Betsy-Tacy and Tib. (Click image for source.)

Reddening sumac bushes crowded close, almost concealing the wall. (252)
Behind the sumac bushes Betsy and Tacy and Tib hardly dared to breathe. (254)
Tall woolly mullein stalks and blue vervain and sunflowers crowded around the low stone wall which was crumbling and falling apart. (251)
No clover or butter-and-eggs or daisies grew beneath the beeches. (250)
Indian pipes
Tacy found some clammy Indian pipes but mostly the grass was empty now. (250)
You may have noticed that all of these mentions are from Chapter 9, titled "The Secret Lane."