Midwest Book Finalist, Memoir, 2012 Book Award, Author, Beth Obermeyer, Days of Song and Lilacs

The Days of Song and Lilacs

By:Beth ObermeyerFormat: Paperback Midwest Book Award Finalist, 2012, Memoir
Midwest Book Finalist, Memoir, 2012 Book Award, Author, Beth Obermeyer, Days of Song and Lilacs

In a childhood filled with sparkle and dances and stages, the one thing Mary Beth could count on was Mabel, her piano-playing accompanist. So when Mabel suffered a paralyzing stroke, Mary Beth would turn to Mabel's student of old, Meredith Willson, the Music Man himself, to see if the music really truly ever dies. A dance into the heart, the true story sings the love of creativity and the power of inspiration--in that magic musical town and time, Mason City, Iowa, 1954.


Publication date: May 15, 2012North Star Press of St. CloudFormat: Paperback

"Obermeyer delivers a unique slice of Americana, lyrical and magic, consistent and authentic, on the fiftieth anniversary of the film premiere, The Music Man, in Mason City, Iowa."


Robert DeFlores, rare-film historian

"Beth... thank you most especially for the photos and warm recollections and reflections of our mutual friend, Mabel Kelso. I am very pleased... it was a pleasure... and making the Guinness book is something I never expected to accomplish. A great day!"


Meredith Willson, composer, The Music Man, lds/mw, March 11 and December 18, 1981 letters

"You've nailed it, Beth. You've broken the rules with bold strokes. And yes, when one awakens from a memory fog, responds to music, it's a memorable moment and you have captured it here. Job well-done."


Professor James Schwartz, Retired Chair, Iowa State University Department of Journalism

"Beth brings to the page all the joy and energy she brings to the stage. And... these characters are such characters!"


Kate St. Vincent Vogl, Loft Literary Center teaching artist and author, Lost and Found: A Memoir of Mothers

"Who could resist the joyous stories and lilting rhythms of this memoir! Beth Obermeyer dances right out of The Music Man and irresistibly carries us back to Mason City, Iowa, in the 1950s. For her, and for her readers, Mason City was an exciting and stimulating place to be, and she remembers it with loving detail."


Susan Allen Toth, author, Blooming: A Small-Town Girlhood, a New York Times Notable Book

"A summer bouquet, a sweet story, just a charming memoir. Everyone will enjoy it. Beth signed her book on Mrs. Paroo's Porch, in her hometown, Mason City, Iowa, on the 50th anniversary of the film premiere of The Music Man. Revisit sets of the show--the library, the footbridge, and the gymnasium where the professor launched the big, rousing "Seventy-six Trombones..."


Mary Ann Grossmann, Senior Book Editor, St. Paul Pioneer Press

"Wow! This is just terrific. This is brilliant!"


Lynne Warfel, National Host, American Public Media

Big! World Records in the Streets!

Plus! Tap Dancing Galore!

By:Beth ObermeyerFormat: Paperback

A Companion Book to The Biggest Dance

Big! World Records in the Streets! Plus Tap Dancing Galore! goes backstage with dancer Beth Obermeyer as she shows what it's like to solo with Garrison Keillor, Christopher Plummer and Gregory Hines. Then she brings her quality hoopla to the streets for a half dozen world records--including the World's Largest Marching Band (2,512); the six-mile Bucket Brigade on Lake Street; and the World's Longest Chorus Line, all in Minneapolis; and Leapfrogging in Frogtown; the Mass Break Dance (7,000+); and the one that changed her life--the first Minnesota Festival of the Book, all in St. Paul.

And, you won't want to miss any of those Out-Takes!


Publication date: August 9, 2011 North Star Press of St. CloudFormat: Paperback

The Biggest Dance;

A Miracle on Concrete

By:Beth ObermeyerFormat: Paperback

A Summer Read Pick: "Well-written, charming memoir."

St Paul Pioneer Press

One October evening 1,801 tap dancers shuffled and clicked their way down Hennepin Avenue to open their arts center--the first flash mob, decades before the internet--and set a Guinness World Record. The upbeat tapping paved the way for a new image for the downtown thoroughfare, for all the townspeople had signed up. Church ladies tapped beside ladies of the street already in fishnets. Families, lovers, and dancing schools too, joined in the dance, more alike than different with tap shoes on their feet.

This record-breaking extravaganza proved to be so much more that any wine and cheese opening for the newly-renovated Hennepin Center for the Arts. The magic of the story shines through, as related by the lone tap teacher at the Minnesota Dance Theatre—who as a soloist, nevertheless insisted: everyone should do it. Everyone must.


Publication date: May 15, 2011 North Star Press of St. CloudFormat: Paperback

“Looks like a scene in Rosalie, all those tap-dancers.”


Eleanor Powell, 1930's film star

“And it just goes to show you—thousands, millions of people have a warm spot in their heart—their tap shoes hanging back behind the old tennis racket, somewhere."


Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion guest appearance; 6:57 p.m., New Year’s Eve, 1983

“. . . Tappers who are good, some who are oh-so-bad and then, the great ones, should read this book because it is about the joy of tapping by a woman who loves it and it shows. Enjoy!”


Barbara Flanagan, columnist, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“This is a story that will dance its way into your heart . . .”


Kate St. Vincent Vogl, author, Lost and Found.

Book Reviews

“A Summer Read Pick: "Well-written, charming memoir."


Mary Ann Grossmann, book editor, St Paul Pioneer Press, June 5th, 2011

“Lots of people said it couldn't happen, but 1,800 tap dancers proved them wrong. Now it's definitely on the record, and with (70-plus) pictures."


Barbara Flanagan, columnist, Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 4, 2011

“A beautiful book, inside and out, and so readable”


Kristin Buehner, reporter, Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, May 27, 2011

“It's everybody's little-engine-that-could story, the news of which flew around the world.”


Hill & Lake Press, May 20, 2011

“Congratulations Minneapolis and Bravo!”


Acia Gray, President, International Tap Association, May 20, 2011

“Lovely humor, fascinating details and suspense...a touching story. It should be a film.”


Dean Diggins, tap legend and Paul Draper, protege, June 11, 2011

When Winter Came:

How a Country Doctor Saved 1,000 Lives in the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918

New Manuscript Completed November, 2018


Based on the medical journal of Dr. Pierre Sartor, Titonka, Iowa
By: Mary Beth Sartor Obermeyer
A young immigrant doctor leaves his Chicago practice for the Iowa prairie. A tiny town has no doctor. One of the deadliest plagues the world has seen is on its way.He is needed.
In recognition of his dedication and achievement The Iowa Medical Society would bestow its highest honor: Iowa's Doctor of the Year.
From the eaves of an attic, a one-hundred-year-old story emerges: one doctor's inspiring story of love, character, dedication and a search for his kind of status.

One hundred years ago, a plague killed more Americans in a single year than died in battle in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War and the Korean War combined. Even doctors did not know what made the Great Flu Pandemic so deadly. Victims turned blue in the face, brown on the feet; they foamed at the mouth. Lungs filled with water and they drowned, within twenty-four hours. My grandfather, a small town doctor, treated a thousand of those patients. WHEN WINTER CAME shares the struggles of Dr. Pierre Sartor in containing the Spanish Flu--and how he managed to lose only five to the disease.

My grandfather's lock box was given to me as my father neared one-hundred. I put it in the attic. I didn't realize it contained a medical journal of the winter of 1918--the Great Flu Pandemic! I have since also researched a reel-to-reel tape of his stories.

Pierre Sartor, the son of a flower farmer, arrives in Chicago, in search of status. He could never be a doctor, not within the strict caste system of his beloved Luxembourg, not in 1893. And he does achieve status, in the big city, in spades. He earns it. He marries it. He never dreamed he would take his little family and leave it! A tiny town on the Iowa prairie has no doctor and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 is on its way. He is needed.

And, he has a plan. Given space he can isolate each flu victim. In a large city folks live stacked as in chicken coops. He would train a caretaker for each afflicted, and--with no small amount of charisma--move loved ones out, to stay with host families. He made doctor visits around the clock, his twelve-year-old son driving the sleigh. He turned the tiny town into a little army! And he found, when people pull together--if not one breaks a rule--it can be the stuff of miracle.

In recognition, the Iowa Medical Society name him Doctor of the Year, their highest honor.