Sunday, October 18, 2015

Eva Vargas, Betty MacDonald and me

Dear Betty MacDonald fan club,

i am a huge fan of Betty's; I read "The Egg and I" when I was a teenager and have always loved her books. I am glad you have taken the time and made the effort to promote her memory through your society, such a personality as Betty was should not be forgotten. 

I'm sure there are very many of her fans worldwide who like me, have many questions and are very curious about what happened to her family in the years after Betty's death.
I did receive Wolfgang Hampel's books 'The Kettles' Million Dollar Egg', 'The Egg and Betty' and 'The Tragic End of Robert Heskett' and found them very funny and so interesting. 

I think Betty was caught between a rock and a hard place at the trial. Writers are allowed a certain "creative license" and she may have embellished her characters a bit to make a good story, but of course she didn't want to lose the case, either. So she claimed some of her story was fictional. But I still believe she drew those characters from her life; good writers write about what they know and experience and it is obvious to me that her richly drawn characterizations of the Kettles and other families while she lived on the chicken farm were true for the most part. Even if parts of the story were fictionalized, I will always be grateful to her for writing some of the funniest and most unforgettable books I have ever read. She will always be my favorite humorist and I only wish she could have lived longer so she could have given the world more opportunities to enjoy her unique talent. Thank you for the second installments of the story.

I'm so happy to gain more knowledge about Betty's life and her experiences during the trial. Now I understand why the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce said there were still some hard feelings toward Betty by some of the people in the area. You would think that after all this time, though, it really wouldn't matter anymore. I guess some people can hold a grudge forever! I don't think Betty ever intended to malign anyone. She wrote from her experiences, and if she embellished a bit, that is her right as a creative artist. Her characterizations were indeed devastating, weren't they? And so very funny. 
A hundred years from now her books will still be uniquely humorous. What a personality she was. 

When my husband and I took the trip to Port Townsend last summer in search of "The Egg and I Road" I wondered why there was no marker. The letter from the nice gentleman who lives on the old homestead in Chimacum partly answered that question. I wondered why the descriptions of the mountains in "The Egg and I" didn't match what I saw on Egg and I Road, and that question too was answered by Betty's testimony in the trial. 

I believe that Port Ludlow, Chimacum and Port Townsend were exactly as she described them. She may have had to stretch the truth a bit in the trial, but what else could she have done. It's indeed ironic that the Kettles were forced to live on EGG AND I Road. 

Another funny anecdote to her story. I especially enjoyed Kimi's defense of Betty in her letter.  In this age of "political correctness" which I find very tiresome, Kimi's letter was well thought out and well written. Betty was certainly not a racist. In "The Plague and I" Betty stands up for black people, and Kimi, who was Japanese, was her best friend. It was very different 60+ years ago but some people forget that.

It is so nice that so many people remember and care about Betty and try to keep her memory alive. Thank you for all your good works in her behalf. I agree that there should be more to commemorate Betty's life and her accomplishments, at least some kind of marker or memorial. At least they did name the "Egg and I Road" after her book.

I hope you can visit Washington state someday and take the ferry over to Vashon Island. It really is a beautiful, lushly green island with marvelous views in every direction.

I don't think Betty gets the recognition she deserves in this country partly because of the unfortunate atmosphere of "political correctness" (p.c.) that pervades the U.S.A. right now. Betty was critical of native Americans (Indians) in her book and that is a "no no" in the minds of many of the powers that be. They don't stop to consider that she was writing from the perspective of over 50 years ago or give her credit for her uniquely talented style and the marvelous, timeless humor of her writing. 

She really is one of America's best humorists and fortunately many people all over the world do recognize this. I think her books will be read and re-read through the ages. There are so many young people that are becoming aware of her books now, and that really encourages me...they will keep her memory going.

I agree with you that "The Egg & I" is one of the funniest books ever written. I remember laughing so hard I was gasping for breath and almost fell off the couch the first time I read it! I was about fourteen years old then. I have re-read it many times and never tire of it, I believe it is timeless.

Perhaps you have heard of the town of Leavenworth? It is at the foothills of the Cascades, and is a world famous Bavarian style village, very picturesque. They have Autumn Fest, Maifest, and Christmas lighting celebrations and people come from all over the world to visit. They have many German craftsman living in the area, contributing their talents to the many shops in town. They have dancers, complete with lederhosen and full old-world Bavarian dress, performing in the open square during the summertime celebrations. Wonderful food of every description; I love their bratwurst and sauerkraut, bought from the street vendors. If you are interested in learning more about the village, you can reach the site at It is well worth an online visit!

Betty MacDonald February 1951
"I have had letters from people all over the world - from England and from Bavaria - telling me that the Kettles lived next door to them.

I am looking forward to reading more of your society's publications about Betty and her life. She was such an unique personality, I will always love her and her books, they have given me so much pleasure and laughter over the years.

It is so good to know she has fans worldwide! 

Keep up the good work and stay in touch.

Yours in Betty's memory,


Vita Magica

Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French )

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I 

Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund