The Mayo people weren't sure how long they would need her, which made booking a flight tricky. Unlike in Betty's world, in the S. Belle's world we don't just show up at the airport when we're ready to leave, brandishing a fistful of cash. So she opted to drive, about 1,000 miles each way. Since her condition results in frequent fatigue and occasional blurred vision, I insisted on co-piloting, which is how I wound up in Rochester, Minnesota, surrounded by medical men, women, buildings, schools, paraphernalia, procedures and substances.
But I forgot to bring any Bettys... or did I?
|The S.B. kisses her house-bunny bye-bye.|
We made a pit stop in Pittsburgh on day one and found, amongst its many glories, a park full of flourishing magnolia trees. Wait a minute -- magnolias blooming in late summer?!?
|And actually, magnolias in Pittsburgh?!?|
On very close inspection, we realized that the flowering trees were one of the many miracles of art the city offers. They are sculpted in some sort of metal or resin, and we were very close indeed before we were convinced we were gazing on the work of human hands.
|In which Betty did a louse get shipped to Pittsburgh to enjoy|
Three fair-sized rivers helped Pittsburgh to thrive in the 19th and 20th centuries. Even today, you can see an occasional barge plying the Allegheny. Or maybe the Ohio, or Monongahela. But I'm pretty sure this one is the Allegheny.
|Which Betty prominently features a barge?|
We made about 700 miles on day one, and then pulled into a cheap motel somewhere between GARY, Indiana; Gary, INdiana; Gary, InDIANa and Chicago. The restaurant next to the motel had a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty.
|Liberty, not necessarily of London.|
After two days full of appointments, tests and procedures, the S.B. had a day off from medicos, and we used the break to visit Como Conservatory in Minneapolis. Or maybe St. Paul.
|The Japanese Garden is lovely, and, at moments, somewhat serene.|
|The Sunken Garden was my favorite.|
We stuck closer to Rochester the next day, given appointments. But we got to see a one-room schoolhouse and several other 19th-century buildings uprooted from their original sites and brought to the Olmsted County Historical Center.
|Why were no Betty heroines teachers?|
We also made it to Mayowood, the extensive mansion begun in the early 20th century by Dr. Charles H. Mayo, younger son of Dr. William W. Mayo. W.W. founded the clinic in partnership with Mother Alfred Moes, a Roman Catholic nun who had worked with him to care for victims of an 1883 tornado. Two of W.W.'s sons joined the clinic, which thrived over the next few decades; who knows why. Rochester was not a center of anything, nor is it close to anything vital. But after dad's retirement in the 90s (he died in 1911), the Mayo brothers, called 'Dr. Will' and 'Dr. Charlie,' grew ever more famous and were consulted by presidents and kings and celebrities etc.
Somewhere I heard or read that Dr. Mayo taught his children that to die rich was to fail in one's duty to humanity, and at some point the brothers turned the clinic -- a multi-doctor partnership -- into a not-for-profit enterprise. Before that, though, Dr. Will told his brother that he ought to have an impressive house, to give patients confidence in his medical skill. So Dr. Charlie and his wife built Mayowood. There's no photography allowed inside, so you'll have to check it out yourself. It's supposed to be glorious at Christmastime.
|Three generations of Mayos lived here, but then they couldn't|
afford it anymore. That's what happens when you believe in
dying broke. Or at least middle-class.
Final question: which four books are featured here, and why?