Letterbox Name: The Great American Pin-up Series: Mimi
Location: Paris, WI
Distance: Not Applicable
Once upon a time, there were eight lovely sisters. They were born in Lake County, Illinois, and were raised in an old farmhouse. They grew tall and strong and, though they loved the home in which they’d been raised, each knew that there would come a time when she would need to go out and find her place in the world.
One of these lovely ladies was named Mandy, and she had a love of the theatre, and of music and dance. In school she met a delightful girl named Mimi, who also had dreams of a life in theatre. Specifically, Mimi longed to see the great opera houses of the world and, one day, to stand on the stage, singing arias from Verdi, Puccini and Tchaikovsky. And she pursued her dreams with a dogged determination that amazed and impressed everyone who knew her.
Mimi believed with every fiber of her being that a career in opera was her destiny. Her very name evoked thoughts of true love and doomed romance. And like the Puccini heroine whose name she shared, Mimi wanted to live in Paris.
So she practiced and she learned, and she dreamt of being onstage, playing the Mad Scene, or the Letter Scene, or any of a number of tour de force operatic turns that required the type of vocal artistry and dramatic ability that she knew she possessed.
One day, Mimi had the teeniest beginning of the thought that she’d learned all that she could in Lake County, Illinois. It quickly became clear that it was time to move on, and learn what the world had to teach her. And Paris, as had always been the case, beckoned to her from afar. So she made her preparations, and dropped in to see her friend Mandy before embarking on her journey.
“I can’t believe that you’re actually going to do it,” squealed Mandy excitedly when Mimi told her about her plans. “I’m so proud of you.”
Mimi blushed deeply, her cheeks matching the shade of her dress. “I can’t believe it myself. It’s what I’ve always wanted, and yet it feels like such a leap of faith.”
“I think I know what you mean. When I left home, and found my own place, it felt like I was leaving everything behind. And yet, I still see my sisters. And old friends, like you. Of course, you’re going all the way to France.”
“What?” asked Mimi, looking quizzically at her friend.
“You’re going to Paris. The flight’s long, I hear, but France is supposed to be just wonderful.”
Mimi understood, and giggled. “No, silly. I’m not going that far away. Not yet, anyway. There’s a teacher in Paris, Wisconsin who’s taking me on as a student. She’s supposed to be wonderful, and her students have been very successful over the years.”
Mandy laughed out loud. “I guess by now I should know better than to assume. That’s wonderful news. Still, going to Paris to embark on a career in opera sounds wonderful. When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow. I am heading north to find a place, so that I’m close to my teacher but can also be on my own when I want to be. Someplace quiet, I hope.”
“Well, I do hope you find that place. When you’re settled, you’ll have to let me know where I can find you. We should definitely see one another again soon. I can’t wait to hear about everything.”
So the two smiled and hugged and said their farewells, and Mimi headed home for a good night’s rest before her journey. When the next morning arrived, Mimi headed north on U.S. Highway 45 through Lake County, and into Wisconsin. She trekked along until she reached Highway K, where she’d been told about a place that might be just right for her. She headed east on Highway K, and followed the winding road until she eventually reached the Bristol-Paris Cemetery.
She entered the cemetery through the second (east) entrance and, had she driven, might have parked her car in a nice grassy spot just a few yards from the road. It was a beautiful SUNDAY afternoon, so she decided to take a stroll. She walked northward among the gravestones until she saw a deer bounding toward the road. She stared in amazement for a moment, then shouldered her PACK once more and walked on to a MARSHy spot. By this time, the skies to the north were turning GRAY, so she picked up her pace and headed toward an old water pump to get a drink.
Standing at the water pump, she spotted two stones next to one another which interested her. To find the name on the stones, you’ll need to answer the following questions, then fill in the blanks below.
1. What is the name of the Ethiopian princess who is the heroine of a Verdi opera that was written to be performed at the opening of the Cairo Opera House in Egypt?
__ __ __ __ (third letter)
2. What is the name of the Tchaikovsky opera that tells the story of Tatiana’s infatuation with a rakish Russian playboy?
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ (second letter)
3. What is the name of Beethoven’s only opera?
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ (first letter)
4. What Puccini heroine commits murder in a vain attempt to save her lover from a firing squad?
__ __ __ __ __ (second letter)
5. Who is the heroine of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and the central figure in “Die Walkure”?
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ (third letter)
6. Which Verdi opera centers on the doomed love of Violetta and Alfredo?
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ (fourth letter)
Now that you’ve answered the questions, take the numbered letters from the answers above and place them into the corresponding spaces below. Then walk to the gravestones which bear the name:
__ __ __ __ __ __
Standing in front of the gravestones Mimi, that Sweet Lady, turned to look behind her (at what just happened to be a bearing of 310 degrees.) She walked to the evergreen trees and peered through them, to a small clearing littered with stones. And there, in a small stone lean-to, Mimi found a place to stay. And there Mimi remains, dreaming dreams filled with heroic drama and heart-wrenching arias, in her modest Parisian home.
The Great American Pin-up series is, first and foremost, a celebration of the style, femininity, and fun of pin-up art over the years. While great care was taken to select images that would not offend, it’s worth noting that some letterboxers, including those traveling with younger children, might find the images to be “rated PG”. That said, we hope that you enjoy the images as much as we’ve enjoyed selecting and carving them.
Please note: The stamps are a bit large, and will require a 4”x 6” space for stamping. We also strongly recommend inking pens, to bring out the full detail of the stamps.