Friends of Betty MacDonald
For fans of this beloved American writer
Inkubator: The Editor's Log
From the editor's desk at Friends of Betty MacDonald. Find longer articles in the Mac-azine and events in the Calendar. You may reply to posts below with a comments link. You may also comment on any post in the Forums.
Altered Chicken States
Butch the Rooster

John was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers, called pullets, and eight or ten roosters, whose job was to fertilize the eggs. John kept records and any rooster that didn't perform went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of John's time so John got a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so John could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing.

Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells. John's favorite rooster was old Butch, a very fine specimen he was, too. But on this particular morning John noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all!

John went to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover. BUT, to John's amazement, Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

John was so proud of Butch, he entered him in the county fair... and Butch became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result...

The judges not only awarded Butch the "No Bell Piece Prize" but they also awarded him the "Pulletsurprise" as well.

Members may comment. Be gentle. —FA
Betty's Letter to 'Hazel'
The following is a photocopy of an original letter written by Betty on September 5, 1947 (click to enlarge).

When you read the letter, remember that Betty MacDonald had just lived through two dizzying years of early success. The Egg and I set a new record for book publishing sales and the Hollywood motion picture version was bringing in audiences to movie theaters all across the country. Betty had met with many celebrities, including her idol, Fanny Brice. She had completed two national book tours; had given countless speeches and was frequent guest on radio talk shows. Toasted by the governor of Washington; filmed with the mayor of New York City; Betty had even joked around with Winston Churchill!


Anne & Joan Interview - 1998
(Interviewed separated via telephone)

Question #1: Your mother was first published 53 years ago. She wrote about a very specific time and place and family, and yet her books became bestsellers upon publication and have continued to be sought-after even half a century later. What do you think is their appeal?

Joan: The appeal of Betty's books, including the children's books, is Betty's candor, sense of humor, vivid imagination and beautiful descriptions. She makes a reader feel as if they are going through the exact experiences she is describing. Betty always told the truth about her life in a humorous way. Her books were interesting and funny. I find that people from all countries read Betty's books over and over again, and keep them as treasures, handing them down from one generation to another.


Symbols Remain in Bettyland
A recent business trip to Port Townsend ("Town" by consensus) took me inevitably through Chimacum, so after 30 years living nearby I took the detours needed to endure enjoy some local color. As usual there on the peninsula the color was mostly gray.


Mrs. Piggle Wiggle on Hulu!
I don't think I mentioned this before, but you can watch episodes of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle TV show - free - on Here is the link - Enjoy!

Watch at Hulu

Flood of tears in wake of Betty MacDonald ferry mailing
Imagine the sadness with which we received bounced email for forty members of the site after we notified all of the ferry-naming opportunity. Please help us recover by contacting any of the members you know in some other way. Sobbing can still be heard echoing in the halls of our vast publishing empire.

Herewith the names of the missing: "Jane", Greg Bell, Sue Dahnem, Vicki De Boer, Rose DeShaw, Judith Dixon, Barbara-Rose Freedman, justine hansen, Joy Hartle, linda hatfield-southern, clive jones, Amy Kessler, Brown Lee, mary leech, Lynne LeForge, Deborah Long, Deborah Millar, Kris Newman, Margaret Norton, Mike Patterson, bill rebelt, Lisa Ryan, Rick Slater, Lynne Spires, Julie Kay Swenson, malcolm taylor, Emily Thompson, sandra wade, Linda White. (Spelling, capitalization and punctuation are all per members' own fine hands.)

PS: Sooner or later everyone looks himself up in Google, so we hope to find a few that way, too.

Will Fame Follow the Fleet? Vote by August 15!
The King County (WA) Ferry District is inviting the public to suggest and vote on names for the system’s two new water taxis that will run between West Seattle, Vashon Island, and downtown. One vessel could be named the Betty MacDonald. Or they could be named for local politicians or the most popular insect of local schoolchildren, or...? The choice could, at least in part, be yours. Now is the time for FOBM to help with a new way to commemorate Betty MacDonald.

Betty MacDonald's world and works are linked principally to the Puget Sound. Seattle and Vashon Island were her principal venues, though her fictional selves ranged further afield. Both Seattle and Vashon lie within King County, Washington.

In 2013 the state and local ferry systems carried over 10 million vehicles and over twelve million passengers from around the world amid some of the greatest urban and natural views to be seen anywhere. Notwithstanding our efforts and those of other fans over the years, that probably means introducing Betty to TEN MILLION new potential readers.

Thanks to Judith Lawrence of Betty MacDonald Farm Bed & Breakfast for calling attention to this matter.

For more background and to learn how to vote, see also West Seattle Blog.

Vote Here! Vashon vessel is second group.

Experimental Member News Feature
To the membership: For those relatively new, I am the technical manager of this site. It has been a while since I posted. We are experimenting with a new personal "update" feature. Think of it as a personal newsletter, similar to Twitter or Facebook. You can post notes for other members. Notes are limited to about 250 characters. This feature is not intended to replace the Forums, which are intended to foment extended conversations. This is the place to post announcements, travel reports, and personal triumphs.

To post an update, sign in and navigate (back) to your profile. There you will find a form asking for news or comments. Type your message with an optional link to information on another site and save the form. It will appear both on your profile and in a summary elsewhere on the site. Registered members will be able to link to your profile for the full message; others will see only a teaser.
Another View of the Bishop Trial
Larry Trotter posted in Vashon's Betty MacDonald at Facebook.: 1951 - A nasty lawyer made Betty cry. Hard to imagine that someone could break that smile.

"The Seattle Times reported, "Mrs. MacDonald testified that she had lived on a farm with her mother near the Albert Bishop farm for more than a year before she married Robert Heskett and moved to the farm adjoining the Bishop place ... under stiff cross-examination by George H. Crandell, plaintiff's attorney, Mrs. MacDonald broke into tears and fled the courtroom" (February 16, 1951, p. 2)."

Link points to the story with a couple of courtroom photos...

Larry Trotter 6:10pm Aug 3

Read the article

Gammy's Gravesite
Herewith two obituaries for Betty's mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Bard, both apparently published in the same newspaper on the same day but under different names, as discovered by Cathy Bredlau. John Crawford attached the photo of her gravestone.

To wit: "Funeral services were held at 9 o'clock this morning at the home of her niece, Mrs. A. R. Peebles, on Hillside Road. Rev. L. G. Reed of the Congregational Church officiated. After the services the body was taken to Riverside, Denver for cremation. Hall Kelso were in charge of the services." (Boulder Daily Camera, Monday December 14, 1936)

Ad from the same paper a second obit that lists her as Bessie Bard: "Mrs. Bessie Bard, aunt of Mrs. A. Peebles, died at Mrs. Peebles home today. She had lived with Mrs. Peebles the last six years and was a sister of Mrs. Peebles mother, the late Mrs. Sara C. Barret. Mrs. Bard was an invalid practically all the time she lived there. The Hall Kelso Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. The body is to be cremated at the request of the deceased." (Boulder Daily Camera, Monday December 14, 1936)
Betty Pushes Xmas Seals 1948
I'm not sure this item from 1948 ever got the play it deserved. So here's another view of what Burlington, NC, readers were learning at the time. Here's the caption from the photo:

Photo caption: Pictured above is Betty MacDonald, authoress of the best selling "The Egg and I" and most recently "The Plague and I", as she applied Christmas seals to gifts prior to Christmas. The authoress (who) is endorsing the Turberculosis Association drive to the limit, pointed out that the dread disease can strike anyone and added that she knows from experience. She urged the success of the A? County Seal Sale Campaign, which has been extended for the next few weeks in an effort to meet the $14,000 goal.
Informative Review of the Bishop/Kettle Trial
FOBM members and other interested parties might enjoy Beth Kraig's synopsis of the world of Betty MacDonald and the Bishop et al vs MacDonald libel trial that ended in 1951. Published in 1998, this is a thoughtful exposition of the issues of the trial and its impact on literary Seattle. -FA

Read the article

Commemorative Stamp Drive
Dear Friends: As many of you know, for several years now, we have hoped to have a commemorative stamp issued by the US Postal Service, depicting our favorite author. I put this on the back burner a few years ago, when it seemed there already was a stamp request in the works, but I have found out from the Postal Service that no stamp is in the offing. Their process can take up to three years, so it would behoove us to begin the "campaign" now, with the goal of seeing the stamp issued in 2015. That would be the 70th anniversary of the release of "The Egg and I," and the Postal Service prefers a commemorative event to link to the issuance, so this seems a good time to make the request.


TEI farm changes hands in 2008
The E&I Farm got a new occupant in 2008. A feature in the Peninsula Daily News describes the new owner's discovery of the property's past. He was previously unaware of Betty MacDonald's tenure and knew nothing of her.


Peninsula Daily News

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