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In the footsteps of Betty MacDonald: New owners take on rural life with Egg and I Farm
Phil Vogelzang takes down cattle fencing on the Chimacum farm where "The Egg and I" author Betty MacDonald lived in the 1920s. Vogelzang purchased the property with three family members in mid-March 2008 from Pat and Jess Bondurant, who raised beef cattle. --
By Jennifer Jackson, Peninsula Daily News, March 25, 2008
CHIMACUM — If you had asked Phil Vogelzang a year ago if he'd ever heard of Betty MacDonald, he'd have said no. Ma and Pa Kettle? Rings a faint bell, he would have answered. So when Vogelzang, 49, saw a listing for a 20-acre farm for sale on Egg and I Road, he had no clue where the name came from. "I thought, 'That's a funny name for a road," he said. Vogelzang is now a lot more familiar with Betty MacDonald, having purchased, along with family members, the farm where the author of The Egg and I lived in the late 1920s. The new owners have named their purchase the Egg and I Farm after the book, and in some ways, are following in the footsteps of its former owner. Betty MacDonald the daughter of a mining engineer, she was born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard on March 26, 1907, in Boulder, Colo. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in Seattle, she moved with her mother to the Chimacum Valley after her father died. In 1927, she married Robert Heskett with whom she had two children. They divorced in 1935, and she married Donald C. MacDonald in 1942. The couple moved to Vashon Island, and starting with The Egg and I, published in 1945, MacDonald wrote three other books based on her life, plus the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series for children. She died of cancer in Seattle in 1958 at age of 50. Flash forward 50 years to 2008 and the new owners of the homestead that inspired MacDonald to write The Egg and I. "We're rank beginners," Vogelzang said of farming. "We have no experience."Located on a ridge between Beaver Valley and Center Road, the farm was a homestead with 40 acres when 19-year-old Betty Bard married Heskett. Heskett's dream — to become the egg czar of Puget Sound — crashed and burned along with the marriage, an experience his ex-wife turned to humorous account in a novel 20 years later. The goal of the new owners — Vogelzang and spouse, Katy McCoy, her sister, Melinda McCoy and husband, Peter — is less grandiose. They want to grow as much of their own food as possible. They're thinking vegetable gardens, fruit trees, maybe even a cow. And of course, chickens. "Certainly eggs and chickens will be in the mix," Vogelzang said. The house that Betty lived in is long gone, but Egg and I fans continued to knock on the door of Jess and Pat Bondurant, the farm's former owners who lived there 32 years. The book is especially popular in Europe — they have the largest Betty MacDonald fan club in the world — and Pat Bondurant has had phone calls, inviting her and her husband to fly over and help celebrate the author's birthday. Last fall, BBC Radio 4 sent a program staff member from England to Chimacum to tape interviews with Pat Bondurant and longtime Chimacum residents, Aldena Bishop and George Huntingford.Family members movingMembers of the family who has purchased the farm will move there this summer, when Peter Walchenbach, a special education teacher at Ocosta High School, finishes the school year. He'll be moving with his wife, Melinda McCoy, daughter Flora, 7, and son Oscar, 5.Vogelzang, a radiologist, and wife, Katy, a physician-turned-artist, plan to come over from Seattle as much as possible, he said. "Peter and I have been looking for property where we can farm on a small scale," Vogelzang said. "It's sort of our dream. "Vogelzang said he never considered that their "quiet little parcel in the country" would have a theme other than local, sustainable food production. But since learning that the farm had a literary history, he has been learning more about Betty MacDonald, and he has been thinking about ways to work with the heritage she left. "Peter and Melinda are the kind of people who will embrace it, and welcome people," he said.
MacDonald connectionsVogelzang was also surprised to find a connection between MacDonald and his wife's family. Both lived in Laurelhurst, a Seattle neighborhood where the McCoy family settled. And on his side of the family, who are Dutch, he does have some agricultural background — he comes from a long line of pig farmers, he said. The son of a Dutch Christian Reform minister, he spent his high school years in Sheldon, Iowa, where he did menial labor on farms, mostly with livestock. While Vogelzang has not seen "The Egg and I" movie yet, he has read the book with an eye to what kind of vegetables and fruits the family grew in the 1920s. "If you read what they produced on the farm, it's quite remarkable," he said."If they can do it, we can do it. "Vogelzang said that, in the end, the farm is a legacy for his niece and nephew, who he hopes will get involved in 4-H, as well as take an active role in the farm's operation. In the meantime, he and the adults plan to enjoy the peace and quiet, the fresh food and the sense of accomplishment that comes from growing your own food. In other words, they plan to find the peace and happiness that eluded Betty MacDonald when she came to the farm as a young wife with no idea of what she was getting into. "We've thought it out," Vogelzang said, "and we plan to be here a lot longer than Betty.
Have a very nice Thursday,
Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen
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Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )
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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 2011/2017 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“!