Finding a Treasure — A Short Story by Maud Hart Lovelace

I’ve written before about how much I love the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. Click here for a link to a post I wrote in 2015.

For some reason about a week ago I went on eBay and typed in Maud Hart Lovelace. There were lots of listings to scroll through — mostly Betsy-Tacy books — lots of them newer paperback versions of the books. Then I spotted a posting for a Woman’s Day magazine with a short story written about Betsy in 1944! The magazine was found in an attic in Maine and claimed to be in good condition. Two seconds later I hit the buy button.

The magazine is almost like new. The front and back cover are above. Some of the pages are a little yellowed but there’s no tears and it doesn’t stink which was my biggest worry. The magazine itself is fascinating, but that will wait for another day. Look at the price — two cents!

The story is titled “An Errand for Miss Canning.” In the story Betsy is eight and in third grade. Her teacher asks Betsy to run an errand for her — to her house! (Can you imagine that these days?!) Miss Canning wants Betsy to retrieve a notebook from a secretary in her parlor. Betsy says yes, but is too embarrassed to ask what is a secretary. I shared every distress Betsy felt as she walks to and enters Miss Canning’s house.  It’s a trademark of Lovelace’s writing to put the reader in the middle of the story.

Spoiler Alert — Of course the story ends happily when Betsy figures out a secretary is a desk, but it takes some fits and starts to get there. She does get a doughnut out of the deal.

Above is the table of contents. The magazine itself is an amazing glimpse at life during World War II. The ads, recipes, and articles all pertain to the war. And there’s a delightful story about a Westie — talk about serendipity! I’ll share more about that another time.

Readers: Do you ever buy things from sites like eBay?


44 Thoughts

  1. I loved those books, too! And what a great find! Yes, I have purchased a few things from ebay. I collect things (mostly books) having to do with the history of the Island that I’m from.

  2. I love your collection, and the magazine is a great addition to it! I have my Betsy-Tacy books from childhood, and still occasionally add to the collection when I find them at a yard sale, etc. They were a fond reading memory for me. Actually, I have all my childhood books still, from my Little Golden and Rand McNally Elf books all the way through my Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew’s. And yes, I have purchased things off Ebay, but it has always been books!

      1. I found two at a yard sale a couple of years ago that the woman said they had been her mother’s. She didn’t know why her mom had wanted to keep children’s books all those years when there weren’t any kids in the family. I told her they obviously had meant something to her mom.. didn’t phase her, guess she wasn’t a reader. On the other hand, I was thrilled to find them! I also found one at a sale at our library a few years ago when they were clearing their shelves of books that weren’t being checked out anymore. I have never understood libraries getting rid of books, but I was happy to find this one. It was one that had the old library card and pocket in it from back when you signed to check out a book. This particular book was one of my favorites that I had checked out many times as a kid and the card that was in it had my name as one of the last people to check it out before the library went tho the barcode scanner tags in books. Love it!

  3. What a wonderful find, and a great story! Yes, I loved those books too, and bought them all when they came out again in paperback a bunch of years ago.I even wrote a letter to Lovelace when I was in elementary school – and got a response! Never bought anything from e-bay but went through a period of having detective fun, tracking down childhood favorites through the online used book sources like ABE.

  4. I have bought things off ebay in the past when we were trying to finish a collection. I have also sold a lot of stuff on ebay and local selling avenues when we moved and downsized. As you get older you look at “stuff” differently or it’s lost the gleam in your eye that it once held. 🙂 It’s a big excitement when you find that rare jewel though.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Great find, Sherry. I have occasionally purchased things from eBay (bought The Girl’s Halloween costume there one year), but not often. The Boy does, though.

  6. Both of my grandparents appeared on magazine covers and in ads from the teens through the 1950s and I have bought copies of those ads on ebay. My great-great grandparents were interior designers and before that furniture makers and I’ve bought copies of their company’s ads too.

  7. Great find, Sherry! Hubs buys (and sells) more on eBay, but I’ve scored a few finds. I have a gorgeous color movie ad featuring Claudette Colbert from a 1940s magazine. It’s now framed and hangs in the master bedroom!

  8. I JUST told someone else a few minutes ago that I need to get back to eBay to look for an old magazine ith several recipes my mother used, especially one, which my niece is frantic to find. I saw the mag on eBay years and years ago before I knew how to use it, unfortunately, the other niece who was eBay savvy did not see my email before it was gone.
    I have been burned by eBay sellers, as have family members, but I believe many many, more great transactions beat the few bad ones.

  9. How utterly fun! So glad you got it and are enjoying it.

    Personally, I’m trying to avoid going on ebay right now. See, I found an Instagram account about Disney pins, and I learned about a couple limited edition series that I didn’t know about but must have right now. We won’t discuss how much I’ve spent getting all but one (and that one is expensive!). Now, I just need to get the new ones going forward to finish out the year. But I must resist getting more pins outside of those. At least for a couple of months.

  10. I’ve never heard of Betsy-Tacy, but it seems I missed out on something good. I’ve bought a couple of things on e-Bay but seldom think to look there for “finds”. When helping a friend clean out the basement of an old apartment building, we found a lot of abandoned trunks. Some were locked, some weren’t. Since there was no one to contact about them, we broke into the locked ones. Mostly we found old molding clothes, but we also found some very old magazines. My favorites were Godey’s (great ads!) and some very early Old Farmer’s Almanacs.

  11. Oh, what wonderful memories! I loved the Betsy, Tacy and Tibb books. Back in the 1970’s, they made NOW’s list of recommended books for girls because they featured girls who did things rather than girls who watched boys do things. I didn’t think of that when I was reading them. I just loved those stories.

    1. That is so interesting they made NOW’s list! I didn’t know that. And I didn’t think about that when I was reading them either. I just knew that I loved Betsy and wanted to be her.

  12. Sherry, I love that we share this affection! I don’t remember a thing about the books except that I adored them. And when I was trying to remember what inspired me to nail a cigar box to a tree in our backyard and keep a notebook there to write in, you said, “Betsy-Tacy!”

    I collect vintage recipe books. I think my oldest might be from 1928. It was recipes from the stars of that day – who were still in silent pictures!

  13. I am a cross stitcher. A number of times I have been working on a pattern from a magazine and have worn the picture of the pattern out because i have used it so much and have had to order another copy of the magazine from ebay to finish the project. This has happened to me a number of times in the past 5 or 6 years. So yes I use ebay. I also order hard to find yarn, cross stitch patterns and other crafting items from etsy.

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