Friday, June 21, 2013
Betsy Was a Junior, Group Read, Part 3
Gosh darn, Cyrus, but you’re
For those who have not yet bought the Betsy-Tacy Songbook, you have a treat in store! It is a magnificent look at many of the songs featured in the books.
The Rays go out for a goodbye dinner Monday night at the Moorish Café where they are joined by Mr. and Mrs. Poppy. Julia’s trunk is already on its way to college and when we learn that Betsy and Margaret get out of school early on Tuesday although the train to Minneapolis doesn’t leave until 4:45, it seems a bit excessive but keep in mind that this is a big event - few women in this era pursued higher education (and if there were local options, they stayed close to home, as did Tacy’s sister, Katie, who enrolls at the German Catholic College in Deep Valley). Julia’s departure for college is not only an opportunity for Betsy to step up and out of the middle sister role, but also provides a source of news from the big city when Julia zips home on a quick trip due to (surprising in her) homesickness. She tells the Rays about sororities on campus, how the older girls had welcomed her, and describes all the fun she has heard about from them – “They give marvelous parties and invite the fraternity men. And the fraternity men give marvelous parties and invite the sorority girls.” Mr. Ray asks how the people who don’t belong have any fun (sarcasm from Bob Ray?!) and Julia replies that she has no idea. “You simply have to belong to a fraternity or sorority if you want to have any fun.” In a way, it is surprising that Julia, a confident leader in Deep Valley is susceptible to the flattery of strangers, but it sounds very enticing and when I first read this book I was as agog as Betsy and Mrs. Ray to hear all the details. Had I had more responsive junior high classmates, I am sure I would have tried to start a sorority myself!
During Julia’s brief visit home, “they talked sororities at every spare minute, especially when Tacy and Tib were around. Julia was given to enthusiasms and she knew how to communicate them. The Epsilon Iota house became in her description an enchanted domicile. The various Epsilon Iotas – the dark, queenly one, the red-headed one, the twins, the stunning blonde – moved through Betsy’s head like characters in a romance.”