Betty MacDonald fan club fans,
Sorry to take so long getting back to you--I ended up buying a new printer to finish the job of downloading...Wow, I am impressed! You really worked hard to gather all this stuff.
After fifty years it must have been quite a quest! Good for you. For years we have all had questions and you have followed through with trying to find answers.
My sister (I took her ALL the pages two days ago) was the most pleased I have seen her in YEARS. She says she is STILLL reading it. So, can we expect more to come ? ? Another delighted fan, Caroline Thanks again.
What surprised me the most after reading The Kettles' Million Dollar Egg, The Egg and Betty....probably the lawsuit (I had not ever hear about that); maybe the fact that so many people believed it was a true story (it seems to me that it was catalogued and shelved as FICTION in libraries at one time)...maybe 'faction' would be appropriate...
Why do I think Bob didn't appear? I've always wondered where he went..I wonder how Don MacDonald liked being Mr. Betty or "BOB" ....in some people's minds.
I guess I read the first E & I in the 1950's -- I remember Onions in the Stew being, I think, a Reader's Digest book?? or maybe Book of the Month...living in a small town with no bookstores, my mom belonged to book clubs & that would be where I began reading about Betty. Anyway, we were a reading household..I guess I would be 12 or 13 ??
My sister is the most devoted fan--re-reads Betty books ...she was in Seattle a few years back when her husband needed medical treatment at hospital there...she went to all the second hand bookstores but said copies were impossible to find. I have said for about 25 years that someone should do what you people have done...so many so curious as to other details of her life--Betty I mean...Sad that she died so young--was she not still in her 40s?? So much talent and so long remembered.
My experiences with chickens were at my grandmother's farm as a child. . Hard work & little reward. Of course in Betty & Bob's case it was the Depression and people were scrambling just to get the basics. Certainly in our family--pioneers in USA and Canada...one of my uncle's lived a life very like Egg & I in a mountain valley a few hours from here--logging with horses, growing cherries for sale, etc. His wife was a very hardworking lady -- she probably enjoyed the E & I too at the time it was published. He wrote a book--kind of a memoir which his children had published in limited edition.
Much of it probably libellous...but fun. Books are like that--even his own brothers differed on what was true and false...it is all perception, I think.
I have been to the Seattle, Portland (Ore.) area and lived on Vancouver Island in several different towns....yes, it is all very beautiful. I never saw a Geoduck but certainly we dug our own clams, had free prawns, bought huge fish from the Indians (illegally even then) and this was in the 1960's...
My last trip to Vancouver Island was in the 1990's I think...if one travels to any of the more remote communities (usually accessible by ferry or only plane/boat even now) you will find much unchanged. It is reassuring in many ways.
So the Egg and I life still exists out here in the wilds of Canada....
Best wishes, Caroline
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'Mix of positive feelings and frustration': readers on refugees and the mood in Sweden
It came in the wake of reports that the nationalist Sweden Democrats party has gained political support for its anti-asylum policy. And as asylum continues to be a polarising issue, increasing numbers of Swedish people are volunteering and offering help to the refugees.
In such a tense climate, we asked people living in Sweden how the political mood has changed where they live, and what experiences they have had of helping refugees.
Recently, a Kurdish friend and colleague of mine Mazlum Punar was asked by a screaming panic-stricken woman, fearing he was a terrorist, to open his sport bag on the tube while on his way home from the gym. This incident speaks volumes about the social climate in Sweden today, where people are rapidly getting used to and accepting the rhetoric used by the far right. Other parties are adapting similar policies to Sverigedemokraterna’s [Sweden Democrats] own rightwing policies. It has never felt as unsafe to be a ‘non-native’ as it does today in Sweden.
I have friends who have been handing out food to refugees at Stockholm central station, and a lot of friends have also travelled to Greece to help the refugees on site. They’ve describe pretty horrific scenes on social media of what they saw while raising money down there. The majority of student fundraisers have been through university initiatives, and I’ve got quite a few friends who’ve organised these. But a couple of months back it felt like a lot of people reached out. That certainly isn’t the feeling anymore.
I’m ashamed to witness how the Swedish government is shutting the door on refugees. I do acknowledge that the pressure on Swedish authorities has been enormous lately, but I find it hard to believe that we’ve done everything we can to help.
As an emotional response to the refugee crisis, I produced a concert in Göteborg in October last year. Six choirs performed peace-related music to collect money for refugees. My record label released an album called ‘Nina’s Children’ and all the revenues will go to UNHCR. ‘Nina’s Children’ is a film score released digitally and it features music from a Norwegian documentary about Jewish children who were saved from having to go back to Germany at the outbreak of the second world war. This was all a result of an emotional response to the situation and an urge to ‘do something’. It is my belief that everyone can contribute in some way.
My wife also helps out at a couple of facilities for refugees. She just learned that one voluntary home for refugees has been forced to shut because Migrationsverket [Sweden’s migration agency] are not sending them any. So despite the fact that Swedish people are still willing to help, bureaucracy and a lack of administration seem to be a huge obstacle.
I took the train from Copenhagen to Malmö before Christmas, police dutifully entered the regional Öresund train on the first stop in Sweden, Hyllie station. Despite the regular controls, the passport checks were swift and casual and the police were friendly and not the least threatening. Since 4 January, regional trains travelling directly between Denmark and Sweden have been disrupted and replaced with local trains, forcing passengers not merely to switch trains at the border but also to go through ID checks that extend the travelling time up to an hour. The current situation with the border checks still feels surreal, but I believe that most citizens on either side do not consider it a permanent solution.
Nobody wants to be the first one to put an end to the openness we take so much pride in. But the already strained housing problem and other economic issues in the country are visibly affecting the public. As much as we would like to be proud of being an open and welcoming society to the rest of the world, internally we are struggling with the results of this openness.
There is a housing shortage in Sweden in general, which has caused house prices to rise significantly in the past five years. Debts are high on an individual level in the country, forcing people to rethink their financial situation. Sweden is just as much affected by the global financial crisis as anyone else. The new Swedish government is aiming to achieve the lowest unemployment rate in Europe by 2020, an initiative which has most likely been abandoned now, with new challenges being prioritised. This raises concerns that unemployment, especially among the young and immigrant populations, will not improve.
Three months ago, the prime minister spoke at a ‘Refugees Welcome’ rally emphasising the importance of keeping hearts and borders open and working together to ensure safety for as many as possible. So there’s a large group of voters that are massively disappointed in the government parties, the Greens and Social Democrats, arguing that they are applying Sverigedemokratarna’s policies. It’s not even about SD anymore. The other parties have started to use the same fear-mongering rhetoric, constantly talking about refugees in terms of ‘volumes’ and ‘flux’. Refugee housing projects are burning in the night. The government has folded to the threats of violence from the far-right minority, and I really don’t know what to do anymore.
I have lived in Stockholm and its suburbs all my life and, personally, I feel out of hope. A majority of my friends have collected clothes, food, and worked with several organisations that are running temporary transit housing projects. People are collecting money and arranging transport to other countries and other parts of Sweden for those refugees who do not wish to stay in Malmö or Stockholm, the cities where most people arrive to. As stricter border controls have been applied, the flow of new arrivals has tapered off. Apart from the migration authorities, bigger humanitarian organisations like the Red Cross are now doing most of this type of work. Local mosques in Stockholm and Malmö are also still very active in assisting new arrivals.
‘I feel like I should do so much more to help refugees.’ Amy, Stockholm
I think the current mood in Sweden is a mix of mostly positive feelings about the refugees who have come here, and frustration with the rest of Europe who have turned their backs on the situation. I hear the occasional negative comment, but those comments come mainly from people who were anti-refugees even before the crisis. I am an immigrant myself, originally from the UK, so perhaps Swedish people I know are careful about what they say about immigration when I’m with them.
I feel like I should do so much more to help refugees, but I have two very young children so that limits what I can do. We have made food that we drop of at Stockholm central station, where an organisation hands it out to refugees arriving by train. My two-year-old chose some toys to hand out to children. The refugees who are staying in Sweden are often housed first in temporary accommodation. They get quite a small amount of money and, as it gets frightfully cold here, we have donated winter clothing and shoes. The organisers of newly opened temporary accommodation near us have recently asked for Swedes to come and socialise with the people living there, so they can start to learn Swedish and make links in the community. This is what we will do next.
My husband and I were both born in Göteborg. In my boy’s school, Bosgårdsskolan in Mölndal, they let some refugee children stay in the sports hall for a couple of nights. Some parents started a Facebook group in protest. Some of them even kept their children from school. They were afraid that the refugee children, who are usually in their early teens, would harm their younger kids, who are between six and nine years old. Me and some other parents tried to calm them down, with little success. The hardest thing to understand was that some of the frightened parents were immigrants themselves.
The refugee situation is of course causing a strain on the whole education system in Sweden. I’m a teacher at a school where immigrant children are in a clear majority, so in that sense I’m in daily contact with the children’s concerns and fears. Some children arrive with terrible things having happened to them or their loved ones. But in general, parents are highly motivated, respectful and thankful for the schooling offered to their children. In all my contacts with these parents I’ve always been treated with great respect and gratitude, and they are always eager to listen to my advice regarding their kids’ schooling. This really is an energy injection to a teacher of 30 years.
Schools in Sweden have developed a functioning system for handling the newcomers. This is a process constantly occupying both management and teachers, always seeking to improve the routines in welcoming new students and assessing their previous skills in different subjects. We do our best to teach them Swedish, as well as maths and English. These are the core subjects needed to apply for high school and further education. It’s a challenge but one I feel we manage pretty well.
A loud-mouthed minority are making a lot of noise at the moment. They are venting their fear of the unknown. Despite all the positive figures concerning Sweden’s booming economy, as reported by OECD, they turn a blind eye and claim Sweden is on the brink of collapse. Refugees have become an easy target and a focal point of dissent.
‘The housing problem will not be solved so easily.’ Anna, Falköping
In Falköping they have opened up parts of the town’s schools to focus solely on refugee children between the ages of six and 18. The children start there and move out to ‘normal’ classes after a few months. Schools in Sweden were already under a lot of pressure before 2015 due to a lack of teachers. The reason behind this is the low status of the work they do combined with a poor salary. Many rural schools in Sweden have been saved because of refugees arriving. But I know teachers whose work has become harder because interpreters working with refugee children have not been given enough time to teach them enough Swedish to follow the daily lessons.
The biggest problem with the refugee crisis in Sweden is the lack of apartments and places to live. It’s a problem for the migration agency and for the social services but a bigger problem for everybody who needs a place to live. The need for new housing is very big right now, and it will of course take time to build them. That means people will not be able to move from refugee camps, and families with children will have to stay in them for a long period of time.
When it comes to the refugee crisis and what impact its had on the Swedish welfare system, I can say it has its challenges and it’s up to politicians to tackle the situation. It all depends if Sweden can take care of its new citizens and make sure people start work as soon as possible. The number of refugees coming to Sweden actively looking for work will be a good thing for the country’s welfare system. It might not look that way right now, but it will be in the future.
Betty MacDonald Fan Club proudly presents:
The amazing, very witty, charming, intelligent story written by our brilliant Betty MacDonald Fan Club Honor Member - artist and writer Letizia Mancino.
WHEN YOU DREAM, DREAM BIG
Copyright 2011/2015 by Letizia Mancino
All rights reserved
Translated by D. Tsiaprakas
Betty, I love you! Your books „Anybody can do anything“ and „Onions in the Stew“ are really outstanding! I take them into my hand, and at a stone's throw I am right away in America ! Columbus and the egg: The great discovery!
Your bestseller „The Egg and I“ the greatest discovery. And you and I! I know America: It's true what you are writing: That's America: Absolutely right! No, even to the least detail! The landscape and the passion: Do you know the country where pistols blossom? Brava, Betty, you are describing the Americans vividly, genuinely, insufferably, brushed upon paper. If I like to read your works? To read doesn't even express it! I can even hear and see everything: Nature, culture, subculture.
America has almost remained unchanged! O those cool Americans! Calculating, stockmarket, Wall Street, the financial crisis (even back in 1930), the gamblers, the bankruptcy of companies! The swarming of dodgers and cheaters. People left without money. Dispair und hunger! A terrible „Worst Case“ (when I knew but little English I thought it is sausage with cheese).
Still how impressive is the ability to adaptone self of the Americans: They know how to enjoy life, acrobats of survival! In the twinkle of an eye they achieved to adapt themselves and effect the work of pioneers: In the morning you are a cleaningwoman, in the evening a brothel woman! No problem!
„The insufficient, here it's becoming an event; The indescribable, here it's done;“ Mary Bard Jensen, your sister, was the treasure trove of procuring work: My word, what a power woman with unlimited imagination! She has recommended you everywhere: Betty can do everything, also write novels! Go ahead, sister, hurry up! The editor wants to see your manuscripts! Up to that point you had not written a single line! Wow! And if still everything goes wrong? No problem: When you dream, dream big!
Just look, you have become famous.The Egg and I You know that, Betty? I'll slip into „The Egg and I“ and come and be your guest! I want to get to know your chickens. I hate chickens! I'm a chickens slave from North America! O Betty, without these damned animals, no chance of you becoming famous! „The Egg and I“ you would never have written! How many readers you have made happy!
Your book is so amusing! Your witty fine (almost nasty) remarks about your family members and roundabout neighbours made me laugh so much! You have been born into a special family: Comfort was not desired: I can't but be amazed: What did your father say to your mother? After tomorrow I am going to work elsewhere: Thousands of miles away...He sent her a telegram: LEAVING FOR TWO YEARS ON THURSDAY FOR MEXICO CITY STOP GET READY IF YOU WANT TO COME ALONG – That was on Monday. Mother wired back: SHALL BE READY, and so she was.That's America! Improvisation, change, adventure. You show no weakness: Let's go! Your descriptions, Betty, about the tremendous happenings in nature have deeply frightened me.
Continent America, I'm terrified by you! I feel so small and threatened like a tiny fly before an enormous flyswatter! Your novel is very many-sided! The reader may use it even as a cook book! „The Egg and I“ starts straight away with a recipe: „Next to the wisdom that lamb meat doesn't taste good unless it has been roasted with garlic“. Do you enjoy the American food?
O Betty, it's too fatty for me and I hate garlic! (Betty is presently cooking lunch for Bob. She's continually talking to „STOVE“: STOVE is Bob's rival; in the beginning I thought it was being himself). She turns round and says: Well, so no garlic for you. No lamb either, Betty. I don't eat any meat! I'd actually prefer only fried eggs. Betty, let me make them myself. Then you try it!
Blow! „STOVE“ out of order! I don't succeed in turning it on! Damned! It's got more of a mind of its own than „STOVE“ of my friend, Hilde Domin! Bob's coming! He must eat directly! „Men eat anything, the swines! Says your grandmother Gammy“. Is it true? Do you like my chickens? Bob asked me without introducing himself. Yes, Bob (rude) I love them! I'm vegetarian. Do you want to clean the henhouse with me tomorrow? A, you're always getting up so early at four o'clock! Bob, that's not a job for me! He looked at me disdainfully! A Roman cissy! You need a reeducation at once! Help, Bob's attacking me! I rather change the novel immediately and move to the „Island“!