Betsy, Tacy and Tish

Betsy and Tacy waltzed into my life when  I was around 8 years old.  I met them in the stacks of the old library in Quincy, Il where I grew up.  I really don’t remember if anyone introduced us or if I just discovered them on one of my frequent visits.  I do remember the smell of that library, though, one of my favorite memories.  The new library has no smell.

Betsy, Tacy, and later Tib and I stayed up way past my bedtime. We also found a corner of my basement just for the four of us to snuggle in after I finished my chores, and took long trips together sprawled out in the back of our family car long before seatbelts.

Some of my friends were running around with the Bobbsey Twins and the Little Women.  Those girls were on my fringe circle.  Later on I hung out with Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and of course, Scarlett, but Betsy and Tacy were my BFF’s.

In their stories, I found MY story.  My love of writing, creating adventures and celebrating family traditions all can be traced, at least in part, to the deep imprint left by reading and re-reading those 13 books in the Betsy-Tacy series over the course of my life.

About 20 years ago, I stumbled upon the “Betsy-Tacy Society” and the amazing discovery that the books chronicled the true life stories of the author, Maud Hart Lovelace.  It was like Santa turned out to be real after all!  I quickly re-read them with that in mind.

Around that time I started buying the books instead of just regularly raiding the library.  They were out of print so I tracked them down through book distributors.  Once I found one in an old thrift store in Arizona, buried treasure!  Now they are back in print.

A few years ago, Tom attended a conference in Minneapolis and I tagged along for my own adventure.  The real Betsy and Tacy lived in Mankato, MN just an hour’s drive away from our hotel.  After 50 years of imagining the sites and landmarks from the books, I was finally going to see them for real.

I fairly floated through the walking tour, taking photo after photo although the images are always a click away in my mind.  Another “Best Day Ever!”

Before I left that day, I visited the local cemetery and stood at Maud Hart Lovelace’s grave and thanked her for living an intentional life and for saying YES to writing it all down and sharing it with me.  I am forever shaped by her life although we never met.

Last Christmas I presented my granddaughter with her own copy of Betsy-Tacy and we read it when she sleeps-over. I heard her calling one of her dolls, Betsy, so I know she is finding the magic too.

Maud’s birthday is today, 120 years old.  I hope she can hear my singing.

Do you have favorite childhood books?

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13 Responses to “Betsy, Tacy and Tish”


  1. 1 lilytemmer April 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Wonderful post Tish! My favorites were The Secret Garden, The Borrowers, Charlotte’s Web [ still traumatized by that one], Little House on the Prairie, and From the Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankenweiler.

  2. 2 Letitia Suk April 26, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    What a wealth of literature, Lily!

  3. 3 Helen April 26, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    What a touching post, Tish! I felt convicted about “writing it down” I need to keep writing but have major writer’s block right now.

    Favorite books growing up, I read the Little House books over and over. I also loved Mixed up Files.

    I remember my parents put a mattress down in the car and we’d lie there and read and play. Fun memories.

  4. 5 bronx51 April 26, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    The library near my house was rather small and I finished all the books in the young adult section. I had to take a bus to a larger library. My ultimate favorite was Nancy Drew and the “Mystery of the Wooden Lady.” It was about a lost ship masthead called “The Dream of Melissa.”

  5. 7 Megan April 26, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    I love these books! I’m still trying to collect them all for our library. My favorite when I was young was Autumn Street by Lois Lowry.

  6. 9 Joanne Campe April 28, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Hi Letitia! I just finished April’s edition of The Christian Communicator.and am excited again remembering all I learned at WTP the last ten years or so. One of my last interviews was with a man from CBN talking about Facebook, Blogging, etc. being the new way of witnessing about Jesus. I was really dragging my feet about getting involved, and asked him to pray for me. He did, and I went home and got on Facebook. I love it. He took one of my stories for CBN online.
    After seeing your blog, I want to know if you can tell me how to go about having one. I really like yours. My e-mail address is campe.vj@juno.com.
    I;m not going to WTP this year, sure wish I could. I pray you have an exceedingly, abundantly, above what you ask, think, or even imagine… week.

  7. 10 Nancy P April 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Thanks for this post. Our family will be making at Betsy-Tacy pilgrimage next month and I can’t wait! Some of us are re-reading various B-T books. I’m on Betsy’s Wedding right now.

    • 11 Letitia Suk April 30, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      Nancy,

      Thanks for writing! You will love the pilgrimage. There is a little museum ini town that has the pitcher in it from Betsy’s fifth party. Tib’s house really is chocolate colored! My favorite is Betsy and Joe.

  8. 12 Stephanie Fosnight Regester May 5, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    I love this post and I love these books! I reread them again the summer we moved back from England, I was so excited to be in a place where I could track them all down in the library!


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