A Long Way from Chicago

by Richard Peck

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Student Question

In A Long Way from Chicago, who was Mrs. L.J. Weidenbach?

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Mrs. L.J. Weidenbach, the banker's wife, is a neighbor of Grandma Dowdel.  She is a pompous lady, and each time she appears in the narrative, Grandma shrewdly tries to turn her lofty attitude to her advantage.

Mrs. Weidenbach first appears to appeal to Grandma to enter her famous gooseberry pie in the baked goods competition at the county fair.  She herself is being forbidden by her husband from entering her own reknowned bread-and-butter pickles, because it is during Depression times, and, as the wife of a banker who has been busy foreclosing on a number of properties, he believes she should not do anything to draw attention to herself - during "hard times", the banker is not the most popular man in town.  Still, Mrs. Weidenbach wants her town to be represented well at the fair, and so she appeals to Grandma for help ("Day of Judgement").

Mrs. Weidenbach next appears when she gullibly offers to pay $15 dollars for a stovepipe hat which Grandma is selling.  Falling for a ruse Grandma has engineered to make people think the hat once belonged to Abraham Lincoln, she mistakenly believes the hat is very valuable ("Things With Wings").

Finally, Mrs. Weidenbach approaches Grandma to ask her to help with the drudge work at the "Ladies' Hospitality Committee for the Centennial Celebration".  She herself will be busy having fun "running (her) old daddy for "Oldest Settler and (her) nephew for public speaker" ("Centennial Summer").

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