Monday, October 30, 2017

Spooky Stories Haunt the Shelves of Winona Public Library

Ben McLeod wrote to us last decade to tell how Bellairsia finally helped him connect the dots between Hoosac and Winona:
I cannot describe to you the frisson of reading a book about a mysterious library and a treasure hidden within while sitting in the very library being described. As I read more of the Anthony Monday books certain particulars made it very, very clear that Hoosac was in fact Winona. When I tried to point out to parents and librarians that these books were about our town, I was met with disinterested disbelief. Adults simply assumed that I was projecting myself onto the characters of the books.
McLeod discovered through the site that Bellairs had taught at the now-defunct College of Saint Teresa in the early 1960s, prompting him to finally find his white whale.  Or his Winterborn.  Or Weatherend.  Whatever.   Now he's back (McLeod, that is), this time with an article in the Winona Post just in time for Halloween that further explains the connection and celebrates the four-book Anthony Monday series:

Young readers in the Winona Public Library in the 1980s might have felt sympathetic with young Anthony Monday, who loved to wander the building, peering at all the architectural details and searching for the building's hidden secrets. But for an observant reader, small details begin to build up, and it quickly becomes clear that the town Bellairs is describing is in fact Winona. In The Dark Secret of Weatherend, Miss Eells and Anthony travel to an estate sale near a small town called Rolling Stone, and go on a drive down the memorably-named Winona Post Road. They visit Miss Eells' favorite ice cream stand in Dresbach. There are undoubtedly a lot of Minnesota towns with a Catholic girls college ("The Immaculate Conception Academy,") and a "Levee Park," but when Bellairs describes a storm rolling across Hoosac during a crucial scene in Alpheus Winterborn, pinning the town down as it streams across the bluffs, and the subsequent flood which echoes our own flood in 1965, the proof appears unavoidable.

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