A puzzling pastime

3,000 pieces later, ‘A Magical Mystery Tour of 100 Beatles Songs’ completed

Photo by Clay Schuldt Ann case with the completed puzzle “A Magical Mystery Tour of 100 Beatles Songs.”

NEW ULM — On May 4, a person visiting the common room of Garden Terrace Apartments One would have witnessed the completion of a rare but puzzling feat.

Ann Case with the help of Shirley Krengel arranged the final pieces of Beatles themed puzzle. The puzzle was titled “A Magical Mystery Tour of 100 Beatles Songs.” The image contains references to 100 of the Fab Four’s songs. Some are more obvious than others, such as the yellow submarine or the bi-pedal walrus walking down the street and many people holding hands.

Assembling puzzles at Garden Terrace is nothing new, but what is impressive about the puzzle is its size. The Beatles puzzle features 3,000 pieces and is 32×45 inches in dimension.

The image takes up over 9 square feet of space. The puzzle spans two folding tables.

Case said the actual assembling of the puzzle required even more than two folding tables, just to sort the pieces.

Case said she began work on the puzzle after Easter and completed it on May 4. This was not the first puzzle she ever assembled, but it was likely the largest.

Due to the size of the puzzle, Case said she was willing to accept help, but said many were reluctant to help tackle a puzzle this large. Fellow Garden Terrace resident Shirley Krengel was the only other person to help. Together the two women worked on The Beatles puzzle whenever they had spare time. Case said there were some days where neither touched it, but in less than a month they had it done.

Case said the greatest challenge of putting it all together was standing for long periods of time. Since the puzzle is multiple feet in width and length, it is impossible to place pieces in the center while sitting in a chair.

“We had to stand for hours while working on it,” Case said. “We could sit when we were assembling the border, but that’s it.”

When putting together a puzzle, most people start with the edge. Case and Krengel did the same. The Beatles puzzle itself has a double frame. The picture is outlined with a white border, making them easier to identify. This also helped identify the pieces near the border.

The middle section was slower going, but toward the end, Case and Krengel were left with many similarly colored brown pieces from the right side of the puzzle. It took a lot of trial and error to fit the last pieces.

Case was pleased each piece of the puzzle fit in place well. She said some puzzles have pieces that connect where they should not. It can be confusing when a wrong piece fits perfectly in a slot. Fortunately, with The Beatles puzzle, that was not a problem as it connects perfectly.

This is the largest puzzle Case has assembled, but not necessarily the most challenging. She has put together several complicated puzzles over the years. The common room at Garden Terrace has a closet full of puzzles. Case is not the only one who likes to put them together, though she does receive many as gifts from family and friends. The Beatles puzzle was a gift from her daughter Marilyn Swan.

“Maybe they think they will stump,” she said. “They haven’t yet.”

Case recently completed a puzzle that was an image of hundreds of cherries. The picture was nothing but red and a little green. All the pieces, except for the edges, looked the same.

“I thought I could start with the stems and work from there,” Case said. “That didn’t work.”

Ultimately, she had to arrange the puzzle pieces by shape and try to fit each into corresponding slots. It was a slow trial-by-error method, but she got it done.

Case had a similar problem putting together a Lego mini-figure puzzle. All the mini-figures had yellow faces. However, the different facial expressions made the process quicker.

Another recently assemble puzzle features nothing but a repeating rainbow line pattern. When fully assembled the picture creates a 3D optical effect.

Case said many of these puzzles she did by herself. Not everyone is prepared to tackle challenging images, though she finds it rewarding.

“It is a good pastime,” she said. “It is relaxing.”

Case said you do need to have the time and patience to assemble these puzzles. That’s why some people hesitate. It is a time commitment and it can be frustrating if does not come together fast enough.

Though not everyone at Garden Terrace helps with the puzzles, residents are excited to see the progress made. During the weeks she and Krengel assembled The Beatles puzzle, people would stop in to see how it was going a spot song references.

The Beatles puzzle, though exciting, cannot be a permanent fixture at Garden Terrace. The puzzle is already taking up two tables. Case has framed puzzles in the past, but due to this one’s size that is not really an option. The plan is to disassemble The Beatles puzzle and pass it along to someone else who wants the challenge.

Case is currently in between puzzles, but is thinking of assembling a mystery puzzle next. Mystery puzzles do not come with a key picture, making it harder to determine the final image. It is a challenge, but Case is up for it.


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