The Three "R's"

Ramblings, Reflections, Reviews … From the "Pen" of William Land

2007 Question and Answer Interview: Nancy Drew

Source: 2007 Question and Answer Interview: Nancy Drew

2007 Question and Answer Interview: Nancy Drew

2007 QUESTION AND ANSWER INTERVIEW: NANCY DREW

by William Land

In 2007, I was approached by a reporter from The Hamilton Spectator to answer
questions for a feature article she was completing about girl detective, Nancy Drew.
The feature was planned to coincide with the release of the new film, “Nancy Drew” starring actor Emma Roberts in the title role.Spring Uncorked poster proof3.cdr

The contact with this reporter, Meredith MacLeod, had been arranged by Jennifer Fisher, President, NancyDrewSleuths.
Here is my interview with Ms. MacLeod:

1.0: Question

So tell me about why you are a lifelong Nancy Drew fan. What drew you and kept you interested in the books? Describe the appeal to me.

1.1: Answer

One summer (I think I was nine), my parents had returned home from a visit with family in Southern Ontario. An older cousin had given my mother several worn books for me. I thought the battered copy of a Nancy Drew mystery; The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (1954 original text) must be a good book because it was so worn.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1954. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1954.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1954.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1954.

Soon after starting to read it, I found this story to be more exciting than the adventures of The Bobbsey Twins and Donna Parker, the books I had previously read before Nancy Drew. The pretty, blonde, girl detective and her thrilling adventures around smuggled jewels, lost paintings, and the scarlet ballet dancing slippers had me immediately captivated. After finishing that book, I craved other series books, especially Nancy Drew. This series was easily my favourite over Judy Bolton [a favourite as an adult], the Dana Girls, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, Kay Tracey, and many others. Additionally, I read boys’ series such as the Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, and Ken Holt, but the boys’ series weren’t as easily found in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the girls’ series books.

As a character in the original and revised books, Nancy Drew is resourceful, brave, independent, bold, daring, clever, and loyal. She is attractive, respected, popular and talented. All these traits were very appealing to this young reader, a child with cerebral palsy. I didn’t have many friends in childhood and Nancy Drew appealed to me more than some of the other series characters working in detective duos; e.g., the Hardy Boys or the Dana Girls. Yes, Nancy’s loyal chums assisted her during investigations, but Nancy clearly assumed leadership in every situation.

Nancy has an indulgent parent with apparently unlimited monetary resources and some adventures have taken her to many corners of the world (Hong Kong, Scotland, Turkey, Japan, to name a few), often at a moment’s notice. The “fantasy world” of Nancy Drew “where everything comes out all right in the end – the good are rewarded and the bad are punished” has had universal appeal.

As I read through the many books in this series in my pre-teens and teens, I discovered that I had been reading a mixture of original text stories and revised text stories. When I read the original text of The Hidden Staircase (1930), I had discovered that this story is radically different than the revised title (1959) of the same name. I wanted to read these original adventures and began a quest of used bookstores and dealers to unearth these cherished volumes.

As an adult, I periodically re-read some of the series books of my youth. I am charmed by descriptions of life in a bygone age and the richness of descriptions and spooky plots and mysterious elements that has made the world of the world’s best-known girl detective a very exciting one to share.
2.0: Question

Why do you think she’s lasted 77 years? Are you excited about the new movie? Do you think it will carry Nancy Drew to a new generation of fans? Are you worried about Hollywood’s treatment?

2.1: Answer

nd01b

Nancy Drew #1: THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK, ©1930/1959.
Artist: Bill Gillies, ©1950.

Nancy Drew, as a series, has lasted for many years due to a daring heroine who investigates thrilling mysteries fraught with danger and excitement. Nancy leads her readers into exhilarating exploits as she is determined to right a wrong; e.g., finding a lost will and ensuring that deserving relatives receive an inheritance that had been promised, The Secret of the Old Clock (1930, revised 1959).

Periodically, the series receives a makeover to make it more current for today’s readers. Examples include when the original stories of the 1930s to the 1950s were updated, beginning in 1959, to remove dated references or plots. Some of the books were simply streamlined; others had completely different plots than the original book.

The Nancy Drew of the 1960s and 1970s investigated mysteries that took her far beyond her hometown and were faster-paced and the plots were sometimes more complicated or worldly than those of the original books; e.g., investigating sabotage at a NASA space centre (Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion, 1971 revised text). Contrast this plot to the original book, published in 1941, during which Nancy searches for a young woman who has falsely claimed a sizeable inheritance.

The publishers marketing and publicity has contributed to the success of this series. Grosset and Dunlap, the original publishers, made certain that booksellers were well stocked with their offerings, including Nancy Drew. Some other series may have been just as popular with children, but they weren’t as easily found. I recall the bookstore shelves of series books from my childhood in which the familiar yellow-spine Nancy Drew books (blue-spine for the Hardy Boys) far outnumbered those from other series including Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames.

In 2003, the classic Nancy Drew mystery series ended with #175. In March 2004, Nancy Drew made her debut in a new series, Girl Detective. The first book is Without A Trace. Noticeable changes were made to some of the characters, their personalities and traits, and, sometimes, their histories. The biggest reform is that Nancy’s adventures are now written in the first person.

Nancy Drew, like other series books, appeals to their intended audience because children crave adventure and sincerely enjoy mysteries. The much-loved books are handed to new readers from older siblings, parents who remember them from their childhood, grandparents who want to give the gift of reading to a cherished granddaughter or grandson, or from their peers. These sturdy books, currently being published in glossy hardback editions, or, in the case of the new series, bright, colourful paperbacks make inexpensive and welcome gifts to these new fans.

Nancy Drew has also had lasting appeal because of her staying power with adult fans. Each generation cherishes mementos of their childhood and many adult fans rediscover Nancy Drew again somewhere along life’s journey as an adult. Some, like I, have never left Nancy Drew behind from the days in which the multiple mysteries of her intriguing world were revealed.

The release 2007 movie, starring Emma Roberts in the title role, is exciting to Nancy Drew fans of all ages. I am curious about it, although I have found that all of the film and television adaptations don’t exactly succeed in capturing the true essence of the Drew books. However, I recognize that television is a different medium than print. These versions include the 1930s movies with Bonita Granville, the 1970s television series starring Pamela Sue Martin, later Janet Louise Johnson, the 1995 TV series (Tracy Ryan), and the Maggie’s Lawson’s role in the 2002 Walt Disney movie. nancy-drew-1sheet

As a Nancy Drew fan, I hope the new book series, Girl Detective, and this new film succeeds in introducing Nancy to new generations of fans. I don’t have any first-hand knowledge, though, about how well the books are selling and if they appeal to the young readers of the current generation. I find it interesting, though, that the first 56 books, published by Grosset and Dunlap, are still in print to this day. As long-time fans know, the first 34 books were revised from 1959-1977 and these are the stories available in today’s bookstores in addition to original text volumes 35 to 56 (1957-1979).

Also, interesting is that the current publisher, Simon and Schuster, has published many movie-tie titles to the new Nancy Drew movie. These are currently displayed and available in bookstores.

3.0: Question

What items have you collected? Which are your favourites?

3.1: Answer

In the years since I’ve started seriously collecting series books, I’ve collected all the Nancy Drew classic mysteries in various formats, and the related series including The Nancy Drew Files, the Nancy Drew Notebooks Nancy Drew On Campus, and the Super Mysteries with the Hardy Boys.

I have some of the original books with dustjackets from the 1930s and 1940s. Luckily, I was able to complete a set of the books with 1950s dustjackets in the 1980s and early 1990s. I have most of the book club sets, including the Cameo Editions in dustjackets, the 1962 picture cover set, and some of the library editions. Additionally, I have a near complete set of the British (Collins publishers) hardcover editions, some of the paperbacks, and some Nancy Drew books published in other languages including Japanese and Spanish. Also, I have some of the series memorabilia including both versions of the Nancy Drew board game; some of the 1970s TV series tie-in items and an original cover painting to one of the books from the Nancy Drew Files series.

My favourite items include a copy of The Message in the Hollow Oak in wrap-around dustjacket (1961 cover art) and the British version from Sampson Low of The Password to Larkspur Lane which has the cover art that wasn’t used in North America, presumably because Nancy, who is kneeling near a fence to speak with an elderly woman in a wheelchair, is showing too much thigh, the Cameo book club editions and the aforementioned original painting.

Nancy Drew #10 - THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1960. Artist: Unknown, ©1960. Note: The artist is likely either Bill Gillies or Rudy Nappi. This artwork was only used in the United Kingdom; Nancy's pose was considered too risqué for the USA market.

Nancy Drew #10 – THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1960.
Artist: Unknown, ©1960.
Note: The artist is likely either Bill Gillies or Rudy Nappi. This artwork was only used in the United Kingdom; Nancy’s pose was considered too risqué for the USA market.

4.0: Question

Do you know other men interested in Nancy Drew? What is the reaction of family and friends to your interest? What was it like growing up?

4.1: Answer

I have a close friend who is also a Nancy Drew and other series fan. Greg Finnegan and I met in 2001 when a book dealer at a flea market gave me a card promoting a musical Greg had written based on girls’ series books and the musicals of the 1940s. The musical is called The Case of the Curious Cabaret, featuring The Three B’s, girls who solve mysteries and sing show tunes. I attended this musical and was fortunate to meet the playwright and the director. Quickly, Greg and I formed what became a close friendship.

In 2003, Greg adapted the musical to fit the Toronto Fringe Festival venue and was successful in staging this and two subsequent adventures in Toronto Fringe Festivals. In 2005 and 2006, the first two plays in the series were performed in the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Currently, Greg has written 12 or 13 plays featuring The Three B’s.

I know of other men who read and collect Nancy Drew, although I haven’t met most of them. In the years prior to the Internet, I had subscribed to a few series fanzines and “became acquainted” with other collectors in various parts of North America. Many of these are members of the NancyDrewSleuths, an online discussion and Chat group for Nancy Drew fans. The development of the Internet has made the world a smaller place. For many years, I thought I was the only adult who read and collected series books except for those from the “fanzine community;” in the past few years, I discovered this is not so and have personally met a few “Nancy Drew chums” in recent years.

My family members and friends are either somewhat fascinated and supportive of my hobby, or indifferent to it. Many have been with my on trips to “brick and mortar” bookstores or have heard of my “online” shopping experiences and finds and are interested in these stories. Some have confessed that they don’t understand why I’m so interested in these books and want to read and own them. I’m not sure that I can adequately explain it either except the series genre, particularly Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton [by Margaret Sutton, an actual author not a ghostwriter, 38 volumes, 1932-1967], have struck a strong chord with me. These books were welcome companions during a frequently lonely childhood and satisfied a longing for excitement. As an adult, I enjoyed searching for and finding sought after volumes, reading and comparing the differences between original and revised text books, reading or re-reading about the adventures of familiar heroes and heroines bygone ages, and connecting with kindred spirits, other adult fans, to read and discuss these beloved books.

5.0: Question

Then I just need some personal stuff to describe you. Your age, occupation, family, that sort of thing.

NANCY DREW SERIES LOGO Artist: Bill Gillies, ©1950.

NANCY DREW SERIES LOGO
Artist: Bill Gillies, ©1950.

5.1: Answer

I am 47 years old (born 1959, the same year as the revisions on the Nancy Drew series began), single, and live in Sudbury ON. I have lived in various Ontario communities: Massey, Elliot Lake, North Bay, Orillia, and Sudbury. In 1980, I started my first full-time position and, coincidentally, my book collecting that same year. I am a library technician and have worked in academic, government, special and medical libraries throughout my career. Currently, I work for the Sudbury Regional Hospital – Health Sciences Library. I shall conclude by emphatically stating series books are a “hobby in which I dabble” and “not an obsession” for me! <smile> I am currently searching for suitable and affordable accommodation in Sudbury to “hold all these books!” <another smile>
Here is a link to the actual article from the newspaper:
http://www.thespec.com/whatson-story/2153048-at-77-she-s-still-cool/

Yes, I was reduced to only a few words! Still, I really participating in her research and reading the final submission. The article was on a full page of the issue in which it appeared. A very fitting tribute to 77 years of girl detective Nancy Drew!

From: June 2007
©2015, 2007

I Need More Spoons: Coping with Physical Challenges, Chronic Pain and Wanting to Die

Preface

This essay discusses themes which may be disturbing to some readers: chronic pain, depression, suicide. I suggest one should stop reading it when he (or she) is becoming upset.

I am not trying to upset anyone, but I offer an honest perspective of how difficult it is, at times, to live with physical challenges and chronic pain. I also hope that the positive messages within will resonate with some readers.

I Need More Spoons:
Coping with Physical Challenges, Chronic Pain and Wanting to Die

by William Land

I haven’t enough spoons!   spoons

I am conflicted. I am considering ending my life. I don’t want to end my life, but I want the pain and suffering to stop.

The pain and suffering will never stop because I am living with physical disabilities. I was born in December, 1959 and diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age six months. Fortunately, this condition was quite mild, but it has sorely impacted on my life and abilities. For many years, I walked with an unsure gait, poor balance, and lived with unusual stiffness in my back and legs.

(I wrote these words in October 2014 when I was having a very difficult time coping with the physical challenges and living with chronic pain issues in my life).

Cerebral palsy isn’t progressive, but aging will take its toll. For many years, I lived with increasingly poorer balance and chronic pain. In 1998, I started permanently using a cane.

Years pass. In late 2009 and the early part of 2010, I started experiencing more falls. Over the spring and summer, these mishaps were more frequent. I was concerned, knowing that they were not associated with cerebral palsy. After discussing this issue with my physician, he referred me to a neurologist.

In Canada, it takes significant time to see a health care specialist. Approximately, nine months later (May, 2011), I met with a neurologist. Upon completing tests and asking me questions, she thought that I may have developed Parkinson’s disease. At age 51, she told me that I was the equivalent of a non-disabled person aged 65. I didn’t respond, but I thought, “that explains a lot.”

This neurologist wasn’t certain, but prescribed medication, and a follow-up appointment. In December, 2011, she confirmed that I did have Parkinson’s.

In many ways, I was relieved. My physical decline wasn’t imagined. It was very real. It was more and more difficult to manage the activities of daily living, to attend work regularly as expected and perform well at my job, to keep plans that were made with family and friends for leisure and social activities. It became impossible to enjoy life because I was losing my ability to live what was normal for me.

I wanted to continue to work at my full-time position as a library technician in a health sciences library in a regional health centre. I enjoyed my job, but it was too challenging to attend work regularly and perform my duties successfully since the second physical disability was developing.

In June, 2012, I “hit a wall” and went on sick leave. I was very tired, worn, and discouraged; I simply could not work anymore. I had fully expected to return to work, but within a few weeks, realized this would not be possible. Fortunately, I was able to successfully medically retire with disability pensions. I had strong support from my health care team, my supervisor, and human resources staff. I am grateful to each individual for her (or his) assistance.

This retirement has been beneficial for me. On my bad days, I can rest and refocus and don’t have to worry about being at work, or letting down my co-workers. On my good days, I can do whatever I want to do or feel like doing. This is a huge blessing in my life.

I also have chronic depression and have lived with this mild long-term condition, known as dysthymia, since, I suspect, my childhood. The condition was first diagnosed for me in therapy by a competent psychiatrist in 2003. I was 43 years old. These feelings of negativity and hopelessness I experience from time to time were validated. Prior to that time, I thought these feelings were normal; I didn’t realize I was chronically depressed. This condition had a name and a form of treatment.

I know my life is rich in many ways. I am very fortunate to have a strong self of self, of the person I am, the person I became as an adult, and the challenges and obstacles I overcame in my life. I have learned to embrace life as fully as possible, to find joy in living, and pleasure and passions along my journey. In many ways, I am incredibly fortunate.

I have an amazing support network.Bill-Locket-3-crop

I don’t believe in suicide. I believe all life has value, but sometimes the value is less than the challenge. I know my life has value, but the daily struggle of living with debilitating conditions seems insurmountable.

I need my soul to have peace in my afterlife, and strongly believe my soul will not be peaceful if I end my life at my own hand. My strong belief in this need will likely be successful in keeping me from self inflicting my demise.

I also know if I ever was serious about ending my life, I would get myself to a safe place. That place could be a phone call to someone that would help me by talking through the issues, and/or getting medical attention. I have some people in my life that I can call at any time of day or right, and she (or he) will be there for me. I know that I can call the crisis line at the local mental health centre for immediate help.

People contemplate death by suicide because the pain he (or she) is experiencing is greater than their mechanisms for coping with the pain. Some may consider suicide a selfish act, but sometimes, the victim is convinced that others in their life will be better without them. I have never felt that others in my life would be better without me, but I have felt that death by suicide might be an option because my pain is greater than my ability to cope.

It is not easy to explain to others that I am truly unwell when I sometimes look like I am fine. The obvious challenges and poor gait associated with cerebral palsy are normal for me, but the added challenge of living with Parkinson’s disease has been taking its toll.

Over the years, I have had many competent and caring health care professionals who had aided, supported, or directed what was needed to improve my life. A regular dosage of an antidepressant has corrected the chemical imbalance from dysthymia, drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease have kept this condition under control, and I have pain mediation to use at the times when my physical pain is unbearable.

Of course, all medications have side effects and sometimes I feel like I’m living in a medication “fog” or “hangover.” Sometimes it is like I have a hangover from overindulgence in alcohol, but the drugs are needed to make life bearable or better.

Unusual fatigue is associated with my conditions. I tire easily and need a lot of rest. Sleep is restorative. I have learned and accepted that self care must come first and my body tells me when I need to sleep.

If I need to sleep at times when most people are awake and functioning, I close the blinds in my apartment, turn the ringer off the telephone (calls will go to voice mail and message will be returned), and I sleep. Sometimes, I am awake in the hours when others are sleeping. In order not to disturb other tenants in my building, I shall read quietly or work at my computer.

For some time, I was searching for a way to describe to people what it is like to live with chronic pain and physical disabilities. Now I can tell them that “I need more spoons!” spoons

In October, 2014, I was at a very low point in my life. I was experiencing the worst physical pain and discomfort I had in a long time. I seriously thought of ending my life, but I knew that wasn’t the answer. Sometimes, tears would flow unbidden from my tear ducts because I hurt.

I needed answers! The Internet is a “library without walls” and offers “information about our fingertips.” I searched for credible information that would help me cope with the chronic pain and challenging depression that I was feeling.

I happened upon an article, “The Spoon Theory” written by Christine Miserandino. The URL is http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

As I read the words of this essay, I was elated to discover that I had a wonderful resource to help me explain to others the challenge of living with physical disabilities. Like Christine Miserandino, I don’t have enough spoons! Like Christine, I have had to learn how to set priorities and use my spoons wisely. I can’t do everything I need to or want to do – I must set priorities for each day.

I can make as many plans in advance as I want to make. But I don’t know until a day comes how I will feel. Sometimes, I can guess in the morning and proceed with my plans, and the day will unfold as I had hoped. Other times, I shall start on my activity and realize that I must change my plan because I am not well enough to continue with what I had wanted to do.

Christine keeps a “reserve spoon” in her pocket. This extra spoon allows her to do something she wants to do that is important to do. For myself, I hadn’t thought of it as a “reserve spoon,” but I am conscious of not doing too much each day so that I can live a bit easier tomorrow.spoon

This forthcoming Saturday, there is a party with my extended relatives. We are having a pot luck dinner and celebrating the 50th birthday of one of my cousins by marriage. I truly enjoy these family parties – I want to be there. This means that I must save enough spoons to make it to the party!

I’ll have to make my preparations earlier in the week. I need to plan my pot luck contribution and prepare it on Wednesday to have it ready for Saturday. Thursday is my scheduled laundry day in my building and I must do some washing. Friday must be a quieter day in order to rest enough to go out on Saturday.

This is my plan. If the plan doesn’t work, for example, I am not ready to cook on Wednesday, a stop will have to be made at a grocery store for prepared food for my contribution, or I go without a dish to share which I think would be most unfair to the other guests. If I don’t get some laundry done, I’ll likely have to go in my pajamas which would be unacceptable so I need some clean clothes.

I am determined to make this party so I shall save a spoon – and even an extra one – so that I can be with my family for so much fun.

I also reach out to my community in times of need when my emotional pain is greater than my ability to cope. I want to let God decide when it is my time to leave this life – I believe my soul will go to a better place if I leave on His terms. When my soul returns, I sincerely hope it has a more reliable vessel in which to carry it throughout its new life. I would be willing to consider a strong, muscle-bound body with amazing strength for my soul. However, I believe everything has a trade off – “my” new being may not be as smart and intelligent as I am at present, in other words, as “dumb as a post!”

Nor, would he, I suspect need to have my passion for Nancy Drew mysteries and similar children’s series books. Now that truly is the greatest loss of all – a life without Nancy Drew would be a dull one indeed!

MEET ... NANCY DREW in these 3 exciting mystery stories : 1) THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK; 2) THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE; and, 3) THE BUNGALOW MYSTERY. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1970.

MEET … NANCY DREW in these 3 exciting mystery stories : 1) THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK; 2) THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE; and, 3) THE BUNGALOW MYSTERY.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1970.

©2105 William Land

An Nancy Drew Interview for a Newspaper Article

An Nancy Drew Interview for a Newspaper Article
by William Land

Introduction

In June 2007, I was approached by Jennifer Fisher, founder of the Nancy Drew group, NancyDrewSeuths. Jenn had been approached by a newspaper reporter assigned to write a story about Nancy Drew in anticipation of the theatrical film release of the movie, Nancy Drew.

Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew

Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew

The movie was released during the summer with Emma Roberts in the title role. Other cast members include Josh Flitter as Corky Veinshtein, Max Thieriot as Ned Nickerson, Rachael Leigh Cook as Jane Brighton and Tate Donovan as Carson Drew.

Here are my responses to the interview which had been conducted by e-mail.

The article, “At 77, she’s still cool,” by Meredith MacLeod appeared in the June 12th issue of the Hamilton Spectator. The issue is found online:
http://www.thespec.com/whatson-story/2153048-at-77-she-s-still-cool/
Question

So tell me about why you are a lifelong Nancy Drew fan. What drew you and kept you interested in the books? Describe the appeal to me.

Answer

One summer (I think I was nine), my parents had returned home from a visit with family in Southern Ontario. An older cousin had given my mother several worn books for me. I thought the battered copy of a Nancy Drew mystery; The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (1954 original text) must be a good book because it was so worn.

Text: ©1954. Cover: Rudy Nappi, ©1954.

Soon after starting to read it, I found this story to be more exciting than the adventures of The Bobbsey Twins and Donna Parker, the books I had previously read before Nancy Drew. The pretty, blonde, girl detective and her thrilling adventures around smuggled jewels, lost paintings, and the scarlet ballet dancing slippers had me immediately captivated. After finishing that book, I craved other series books, especially Nancy Drew. This series was easily my favourite over Judy Bolton [a favourite as an adult], the Dana Girls, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, Kay Tracey, and many others. Additionally, I read boys’ series such as the Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, and Ken Holt, but the boys’ series weren’t as easily found in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the girls’ series books.

As a character in the original and revised books, Nancy Drew is resourceful, brave, independent, bold, daring, clever, and loyal. She is attractive, respected, popular and talented. All these traits were very appealing to this young reader, a child with cerebral palsy. I didn’t have many friends in childhood and Nancy Drew appealed to me more than some of the other series characters working in detective duos; e.g., the Hardy Boys or the Dana Girls. Yes, Nancy’s loyal chums assisted her during investigations, but Nancy clearly assumed leadership in every situation.

Nancy has an indulgent parent with apparently unlimited monetary resources and some adventures have taken her to many corners of the world (Hong Kong, Scotland, Turkey, Japan, to name a few), often at a moment’s notice. The “fantasy world” of Nancy Drew “where everything comes out all right in the end – the good are rewarded and the bad are punished” has had universal appeal.

As I read through the many books in this series in my pre-teens and teens, I discovered that I had been reading a mixture of original text stories and revised text stories. When I read the original text of The Hidden Staircase (1930), I had discovered that this story is radically different than the revised title (1959) of the same name. I wanted to read these original adventures and began a quest of used bookstores and dealers to unearth these cherished volumes.

Text: ©1930. Cover: Russell H. Tandy, ©1930.

Text: ©1959. Cover: Rudy Nappi, ©1965.

As an adult, I periodically re-read some of the series books of my youth. I am charmed by descriptions of life in a bygone age and the richness of descriptions and spooky plots and mysterious elements that has made the world of the world’s best-known girl detective a very exciting one to share.
Question

Why do you think she’s lasted 77 years? Are you excited about the new movie? Do you think it will carry Nancy Drew to a new generation of fans? Are you worried about Hollywood’s treatment?

Answer

Nancy Drew, as a series, has lasted for many years due to a daring heroine who investigates thrilling mysteries fraught with danger and excitement. Nancy leads her readers into exhilarating exploits as she is determined to right a wrong; e.g., finding a lost will and ensuring that deserving relatives receive an inheritance that had been promised, The Secret of the Old Clock (1930, revised 1959).

Periodically, the series receives a makeover to make it more current for today’s readers. Examples include when the original stories of the 1930s to the 1950s were updated, beginning in 1959, to remove dated references or plots. Some of the books were simply streamlined; others had completely different plots than the original book.

Text: ©1971.  Cover: Rudy Nappi, ©1971.

Text: ©1971. Cover: Rudy Nappi, ©1971.

The Nancy Drew of the 1960s and 1970s investigated mysteries that took her far beyond her hometown and were faster-paced and the plots were sometimes more complicated or worldly than those of the original books; e.g., investigating sabotage at a NASA space centre (Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion, 1971 revised text).

Text: ©1941. Cover: Rudy Nappi, ©1962.

Text: ©1941. Cover: Rudy Nappi, ©1962.

Contrast this plot to the original book, published in 1941, during which Nancy searches for a young woman who has falsely claimed a sizeable inheritance.

The publishers marketing and publicity has contributed to the success of this series. Grosset and Dunlap, the original publishers, made certain that booksellers were well stocked with their offerings, including Nancy Drew. Some other series may have been just as popular with children, but they weren’t as easily found. I recall the bookstore shelves of series books from my childhood in which the familiar yellow-spine Nancy Drew books (blue-spine for the Hardy Boys) far outnumbered those from other series including Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames.

In 2003, the classic Nancy Drew mystery series ended with #175. In March 2004, Nancy Drew made her debut in a new series, Girl Detective. The first book is Without A Trace. Noticeable changes were made to some of the characters, their personalities and traits, and, sometimes, their histories. The biggest reform is that Nancy’s adventures are now written in the first person.

Text/Cover: ©2004.Nancy Drew, Girl Detective, #1

Nancy Drew, like other series books, appeals to their intended audience because children crave adventure and sincerely enjoy mysteries. The much-loved books are handed to new readers from older siblings, parents who remember them from their childhood, grandparents who want to give the gift of reading to a cherished granddaughter or grandson, or from their peers. These sturdy books, currently being published in glossy hardback editions, or, in the case of the new series, bright, colourful paperbacks make inexpensive and welcome gifts to these new fans.

Nancy Drew has also had lasting appeal because of her staying power with adult fans. Each generation cherishes mementos of their childhood and many adult fans rediscover Nancy Drew again somewhere along life’s journey as an adult. Some, like I, have never left Nancy Drew behind from the days in which the multiple mysteries of her intriguing world were revealed.

The release 2007 movie, starring Emma Roberts in the title role, is exciting to Nancy Drew fans of all ages. I am curious about it, although I have found that all of the film and television adaptations don’t exactly succeed in capturing the true essence of the Drew books. However, I recognize that television is a different medium than print. These versions include the 1930s movies with Bonita Granville, the 1970s television series starring Pamela Sue Martin, later Janet Louise Johnson, the 1995 TV series (Tracy Ryan), and the Maggie’s Lawson’s role in the 2002 Walt Disney movie.

As a Nancy Drew fan, I hope the new book series, Girl Detective, and this new film succeeds in introducing Nancy to new generations of fans. I don’t have any first-hand knowledge, though, about how well the books are selling and if they appeal to the young readers of the current generation. I find it interesting, though, that the first 56 books, published by Grosset and Dunlap, are still in print to this day. As long-time fans know, the first 34 books were revised from 1959-1977 and these are the stories available in today’s bookstores in addition to original text volumes 35 to 56 (1957-1979).

Nancy Drew Logo, ©1950.

Also, interesting is that the current publisher, Simon and Schuster, has published many movie-tie titles to the new Nancy Drew movie. These are currently displayed and available in bookstores.
Question

What items have you collected? Which are your favourites?

Answer

In the years since I’ve started seriously collecting series books, I’ve collected all the Nancy Drew classic mysteries in various formats, and the related series including The Nancy Drew Files, the Nancy Drew Notebooks Nancy Drew On Campus, and the Super Mysteries with the Hardy Boys.

I have some of the original books with dustjackets from the 1930s and 1940s. Luckily, I was able to complete a set of the books with 1950s dustjackets in the 1980s and early 1990s. I have most of the book club sets, including the Cameo Editions in dustjackets, the 1962 picture cover set, and some of the library editions. Additionally, I have a near complete set of the British (Collins publishers) hardcover editions, some of the paperbacks, and some Nancy Drew books published in other languages including Japanese and Spanish. Also, I have some of the series memorabilia including both versions of the Nancy Drew board game; some of the 1970s TV series tie-in items, and an original cover painting to one of the books from the Nancy Drew Files series.

My favourite items include a copy of The Message in the Hollow Oak in wrap-around dustjacket (1961 cover art) and the British version from Sampson and Low of The Password to Larkspur Lane which has the cover art that wasn’t used in North America, presumably because Nancy, who is kneeling near a fence to speak with an elderly woman in a wheelchair, is showing too much thigh, the Cameo book club editions and the aforementioned original painting.

Nancy Drew Files- #58-Hot-Pursuit, ©1991. Artist: Tom Galasinski.

Question

Do you know other men interested in Nancy Drew? What is the reaction of family and friends to your interest? What was it like growing up?

Answer

I have a close friend who is also a Nancy Drew and other series fan. Greg Finnegan and I met in 2001 when a book dealer at a flea market gave me a card promoting a musical Greg had written based on girls’ series books and the musicals of the 1940s. The musical is called The Case of the Curious Cabaret, featuring The Three B’s, girls who solve mysteries and sing show tunes. I attended this musical and was fortunate to meet the playwright and the director. Quickly, Greg and I formed what became a close friendship.

In 2003, Greg adapted the musical to fit the Toronto Fringe Festival venue and was successful in staging this and two subsequent adventures in Toronto Fringe Festivals. In 2005 and 2006, the first two plays in the series were performed in the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Currently, Greg has written 12 or 13 plays featuring The Three B’s.

I know of other men who read and collect Nancy Drew, although I haven’t met most of them. In the years prior to the Internet, I had subscribed to a few series fanzines and “became acquainted” with other collectors in various parts of North America. Many of these are members of the NancyDrewSleuths, an online discussion and Chat group for Nancy Drew fans. The development of the Internet has made the world a smaller place. For many years, I thought I was the only adult who read and collected series books except for those from the “fanzine community;” in the past few years, I discovered this is not so and have personally met a few “Nancy Drew chums” in recent years.

My family members and friends are either somewhat fascinated and supportive of my hobby, or indifferent to it. Many have been with my on trips to “brick and mortar” bookstores or have heard of my “online” shopping experiences and finds and are interested in these stories. Some have confessed that they don’t understand why I’m so interested in these books and want to read and own them. I’m not sure that I can adequately explain it either except the series genre, particularly Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton [by Margaret Sutton, an actual author not a ghostwriter, 38 volumes, 1932-1967], have struck a strong chord with me. These books were welcome companions during a frequently lonely childhood and satisfied a longing for excitement. As an adult, I enjoyed searching for and finding sought after volumes, reading and comparing the differences between original and revised text books, reading or re-reading about the adventures of familiar heroes and heroines bygone ages, and connecting with kindred spirits, other adult fans, to read and discuss these beloved books.

Nancy Drew #10 - THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1960.   Artist: Unknown, ©1960. Note: The artist is likely either Bill Gillies or Rudy Nappi. This artwork was only used in the United Kingdom; Nancy's pose was considered too risqué for the USA market.

Nancy Drew #10 – THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1960.
Artist: Unknown, ©1960.
Note: The artist is likely either Bill Gillies or Rudy Nappi. This artwork was only used in the United Kingdom; Nancy’s pose was considered too risqué for the USA market.

Question

Then I just need some personal stuff to describe you. Your age, occupation, family, that sort of thing.
Answer

I am 47 years old (born 1959, the same year as the revisions on the Nancy Drew series began), single, and live in Sudbury ON. I have lived in various Ontario communities: Massey, Elliot Lake, North Bay, Orilla, and Sudbury. In 1980, I started my first full-time position and, coincidentally, my book collecting that same year. I am a library technician and have worked in academic, government, special and medical libraries throughout my career. Currently, I work for the Sudbury Regional Hospital – Health Sciences Library. I shall conclude by emphatically stating series books are a “hobby in which I dabble” and “not an obsession” for me! <smile> I am currently searching for suitable and affordable accommodation in Sudbury to “hold all these books!” <another smile>
Conclusion

I was somewhat dismayed that much of my “brilliant interview about Nancy Drew” (my description) was not used in MacLeod’s article; I am aware of the space constraints of the print media format. I was disappointed, though, that I was slightly misquoted in the paragraph in which I described Nancy’s universal appeal. Still very pleased, though, that the author chose to quote it in her article which had warranted a full-page spread in the newspaper.

Revised: April 14, 2015
©2015, 2007

A Picture Quilt

A Picture Quilt

by William Land

Earlier this year (2014), a friend, prolific quilter, Julie Domenico, contacted me about another quilt she had made. Followers in my community may remember that Julie created an original quilt for me in 2013 using some of the fabric from the Moda Nancy Drew fabric line. Julie titled this attractive creation, “The Mystery of the Charmed Quilt.” I have written about this gorgeous quilt in another post on this blog.

In her communication about this latest quilt, Julie explains about the origins and reasons behind “The Picture Quilt.” I quote from her message: “ … I’m doing a demonstration at the quilt guild of ‘Picture Quilts’ this week.

A Picture Quilt - Front View Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

A Picture Quilt – Front View
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

I stole this idea from the Sudbury Quilt Guild!

A picture quilt is a 12”x12” little mini quilt – really, just a finished block. You make one with a picture of something on it, and it’s given to an Alzheimer’s patient – it’s a kind of a memory or comfort tool. I’ve made one with a cardinal on it for my demo.

Despite having known many people or their parents who have suffered from Alzheimer’s I do not at present know anyone. Could I send mine to you for your Mom? It’s just a quilt piece to have and hold and enjoy … nothing more. Thought I would check with you first.

Her name is Mary, right – I would put hers on it, that it’s from you, and that it was made by me – on the label.”

In my reply, I told my friend that she had a lovely idea and I would be honoured for Mom to have the quilt.

A Picture Quilt - Cardinal View Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

A Picture Quilt – Cardinal View
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

When the piece arrived, I was captivated by the beauty of the cardinal. I remembered red is a favourite colour of Mom’s and I felt sure she would enjoy it.

One Saturday, I took Handi-Transit to the nursing home for a long overdue visit with my parent. I brought the quilt, and my camera. I wanted to get some pictures of Mom with the gorgeous gift Julie had made.

Mom and I were sitting quietly when my brother, John, also stopped for a visit. He, Mom, and I were sitting and chatting. John has the greatest sense of humour and fun of anyone I know. He loves to tease; at times, I think, he can be slightly unmerciful. But I also know that his remarks are intended as fun.

When Mom was well, in the days prior to dementia, he often teased her. I remember she visited his home one year for Christmas, and I called to speak with her. Before giving her the receiver, he said to me, “Mom is old!” I heard my mother in the background agreeing. Then my brother added, “And useless.” Brief seconds later, I heard my mother’s voice vehemently protesting, “I am not useless!” Her emphasis was on the word “not!”

A Picture Quilt - Back View Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

A Picture Quilt – Back View
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

Mom had two ways of responding to the teasing. If she was in a receptive mood, she would comment that John was a joker. If he was getting on her nerves, she would declare, “John is a bug!”

During a conversation lull, I took the picture quilt and camera from my bag to give the fabric creation to my mother. After she looked at it for a few moments, I started to take her picture. Unfortunately, Mom was at a diminished capacity at this moment, and it showed in the pictures. I was about to put the camera away, when I noticed Mom giving my brother a sidelong glance.

I heard John saying to Mom that he has her glass. (Background: Earlier during the visit, an aide brought Mom juice in a plastic glass. After she finished it, Mom put the glass on the table next to her chair).

Then I heard John say, “Look! I’m wearing your glass!” Mom started to smile.

Then I heard, “I have your glass on top of my head!” By this time Mom was laughing.

John’s voice informed his audience that he was trying to balance the glass on his head. Mom was highly entertained.

I didn’t dare look at my brother because I knew I, too, would be laughing and not able to take pictures. I am a dismal photographer at best and I don’t need any distractions if I expect to get even partially acceptable photographs.

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt
June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt
June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt
June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt
June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt
June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt June 2014

Mary Land Holding A Picture Quilt
June 2014

I thought it was wonderful, and typical of my entertaining sibling, to try to make Mom laugh while I captured photographic images at this event which was important to me: the presentation of Julie’s quilt to my mother.

To discover more about this talented artist and her original quilts, visit her blog, “Concepts Quilts.” The URL is http://conceptquilts.blogspot.ca/ .

Mom may or may not have this quilt for a long time. Items tend to disappear quickly in places similar to the nursing home in which my mother resides, but we will always these pictures, and this story this story of “A Picture Quilt,” a lovely red cardinal whose simple purpose is to bring pleasure to an elderly woman living with diminished ability and memory loss. Perhaps this red cardinal might achieve its purpose and bring Mary Land some joy?
Written: October 2014
Revised: March 2015
©2015

A Picture Quilt - Artist's Signature Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

A Picture Quilt – Artist’s Signature
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2014

The Mystery of the Charmed Quilt

The Mystery of the Charmed Quilt

by William Land

From: March 2013

Last Tuesday, I received a Facebook message from my friend, the prolific quilter Julie Domenico, that I should stay home on Wednesday to await for a courier delivery. I responded by saying that it sounded like a mystery worthy of Nancy Drew. Her response: “Like Nancy, all will be revealed.”

Julie and I are work friends that haven’t actually met. She works as a library technician in a health sciences library in Timmins ON. My recent position, from which I medically retired in 2012, was in a health sciences library in Sudbury ON.

I had assumed that Julie was sending me some books since she knows of my love of series books and of my collection. When the delivery man presented me with a large box, I was surprised by the weight. It was too light to contain books!

Eagerly, I opened this box in anticipation. As I was unwrapping the package, I wondered if Julie was sending me one of her beautiful quilts. I was very shocked to learn that it was her original creation using Nancy Drew Moda fabric. The quilt is done with various 5″x5″ charm squares on a white background with accent colours of blue, navy, and yellow. It’s gorgeous! I am so blessed with this wonderful gift – every time I look at it (which is often since I received it Wednesday morning), I love it even more.

The finished quilt. Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

The finished quilt.
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

Blue was Nancy’s signature colour. In the original text mystery stories, Nancy dressed often in blue suits and hats which matched her bright blue eyes. Either by chance or design, her blue roadster also appropriately co-ordinated in this colour commonly associated with boys. The first editions of this series were bound in blue boards with blank (white) endpapers. For a brief time (late 1946) the silhouette on the cover was navy, the cover boards remained blue. From 1930 to 1961, all the books were published with dustjackets either white-spine dustjackets or wraparound-spine ones. The front cover artwork “wrapped around” the spine of the dustjacket in this latter format.

Of course, Nancy is best known (as Julie noted in her letter to me explaining her gift) for wearing matte yellow-spine pictorial hardcovers. The publisher (Grosset and Dunlap) started with this format in 1961 and continued to 1986, before switching to the glossy flashlight pictorial hardcovers that are currently being produced.

Like Nancy, either by chance or design, Julie used Nancy’s signature colours: various shades of blue including navy, white, and yellow in her gorgeous creation. In Julie’s own words: “Hope you enjoy the quilt. You will notice one square is upside down. There had to be some sort of mystery, don’t you think?”

In 2012, when I first learned that Moda was producing some Nancy Drew fabric, I wasn’t too excited since I am inept at all crafts, but admire those who are skilled and talented to take raw materials to create an object of beauty. However, I did purchase some of the fabric when I learned it would be in limited supply. I bought some fabric, planning to seek a seamstress to create a quilt, some ties, and other desired items using the Nancy Drew fabric. Little did I know that a friend would lovingly, willingly and unknown to me create a gorgeous Nancy Drew quilt with this fabric and present me with this beautiful surprise!

A Charm Square Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

A Charm Square
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

My cousin, Jane Ellis, commented on Facebook in response to my posting about Julie’s quilt: ” … So appropriate with your book collection! I can almost hear Friendly [from the children’s television program, “The Friendly Giant”], “and here’s a chair for someone to curl up in”… And I’m adding … “And a good book, and a snugly quilt. Very cozy!” I so agree with Jane!

The Mystery of the Charmed Quilt is a great title for this quilt and would also be for a Nancy Drew book!

********************************

Julie’s comments (from her Blog):
http://conceptquilts.blogspot.ca/

Quilt No. 90
March 2013

 

When I found out that there was Nancy Drew fabric, I simply could NOT believe it. Sure, I expected to find Harry Potter fabric and Star Wars stuff, but … Nancy?! Incredible!

To me, Nancy is the most potent source of nostalgia in the universe – my introduction to actual “books” and the world of mystery! Who knew there were mysteries going on that people – girls the same age as my sister – were out there solving! Of course I pictured all this “mystery” as going on somewhere in the “United States of America”, known only to me through the mimeographed map from school – the one on which I’d laboriously printed all the states and all two rivers (Mississippi and Missouri). Nancy lived in that wondrous, far flung place where each state was a different colour! And there was more. There could be hidden staircases! Surely there was one somewhere in our tiny house – I just had to be diligent, and smart, and I would find it.

This quilt was made for my friend Bill, a truly loyal Nancy Drew fan, collector, and expert on all things Nancy. Bill never fails to take the adversities that life unfairly tosses his way and find his own silver linings. I felt that this deserved some sort of reward.

And so … The Mystery of the Charmed Quilt came into being. Why “Charmed”? The Nancy Drew squares were purchased as pre-cut 5×5” squares, called “charm squares” according to official quilting terminology. I went with a white background, and of course, yellow was a given. It’s the colour I most associate with the covers of the classic Nancy Drew books.

Another charm square. Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

Another charm square.
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

As for the hidden staircase, I never did find it, but I haven’t given up looking where ever I live. I might just find it yet.

Quilt Notes

This quilt was quilted once, unquilted, and then quilted again. My first attempts at machine quilting along the edges of the blocks, or “in the ditch” as quilters refer to it, were disastrous. The skills I’d mastered for free motion quilting were of no help whatsoever. Apparently ditching it is a whole different skill set. My first lines meandered like a tired river, but as a testimony to my blind stubbornness, I just…kept…going. My plan was to rip out what I didn’t like later because it would only be a few lines of stitches…I would master the skill any second. Well, any minute. Well, any hour. Or maybe not. The lines wandered around like drunken ants trying to escape the Raid factory. And still I kept going, thinking – like so many fools in a bar – that my prize would look better in the morning.

It didn’t.

I decided to check out YouTube to see what I might be doing wrong. Turns out – pretty much everything. So I turned back the quilt clock by ripping out all the machine quilting. I won’t say how long this took, but I did get more than one movie under my belt as I sat there picking out the stitches. My next attempt went better as I carefully folded the quilt prior to stitching so that it wouldn’t pull all over the place. I shortened my stitch length, went slowly, oh so slowly, and used a super sharp Microtex needle.

The results were far better, still not perfect, but as any quilter (believer or not) will tell you, only a Higher Power can make a perfect quilt. The rest of us can only give it our best shot.

********************************
I so admire Julie’s talent and generosity — this is a wonderful present. I look forward to the day when Julie and I actually meet in person. When she visits my apartment, she’ll be able to see my book collection and her creation in its new home.

The Artist's Signature. Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

The Artist’s Signature.
Artist: Julie Domenico, ©2013

Written: March 2013
Revised: March 2015
©2015

Memories of Mom!

Memories of Mom!

by William Land

I was very lucky to have a wonderful mother! Mary Quigley Land was one of the best and strongest influences in my life.

Mom always offered me unconditional love. She has been, among many roles, a parent, an advocate, a teacher, a nurse, a housekeeper, a cook, a Santa Claus, a disciplinarian, a therapist, a confidante, a companion, and a friend.

round-peg-square-hole

Not Fitting In!

I have so many terrific memories of my mother. My childhood was somewhat difficult much of the time due to living with cerebral palsy, and not having many friends and often very lonely. I was both bullied by some of my peers and, in turn, I bullied some younger children, particularly my brothers. I also was angry and frustrated much of the time because I felt like the “round peg trying to fit into a square hole.” Now matter how hard one tries, it just does not fit in. As I aged, I learned that it was fine to “march to my own beat” and became confident, productive, blessed, and happier in my life, dealing effectively with many of the negatives from the past.

My mother knew and understood this frustration and lovingly offered her guidance and support. At times, her life was not particularly easy either; as life is such for many people. Mom had five sons, a husband, and a household to run smoothly. Mom was responsible for ensuring that the family home ran well. Dad, typical of men of his generation, earned the income and was the head of the family; Mom was the foundation. Both parents took their roles seriously to provide their sons a life better than either of them had had. As an adult, I can look back remember and know how fortunate my brothers and I have been to have had our parents. Family, above all others, is most important, a lesson each son had learned well.

At age 12 or 13, I, being the oldest child, had some responsibility in the family, but each person had chores. One summer day, Dad had his three oldest sons doing yard work. I was not particularly skilled at knowing the difference between the plants and the weeds, and this assignment ended with he and I in heated conflict when I inadvertently made an incorrect choice. My father thought I had pulled the plant purposely. Angrily, I retreated indoors. Mom, in her wisdom, decided it would best that I work with her in the house. I was very happy to leave John and Mike outdoors with our father.

I had to “earn my keep” (an often used expression from my mother) so Mom taught me how to wash dishes and to dust. Without daughters, she needed some help! I haven’t a clear memory of the first time I washed dishes, but I can easily recall that, as a teenager, and into my mid-thirties, I always seemed to be washing dishes!

Under Mom’s concise direction, I became very competent at housekeeping! She gave me the best gift in teaching me how to manage my own home.

pledge

A tool for dusting.

Mom was very careful about cleaning. While dusting, I was instructed to remove all the ornaments and anything else from the table, thoroughly dust it including the legs, and return the dusted decorations and other objects to their proper places. I became competent at this task.

One day Mom received a phone call. Company was expected within thirty minutes. She asked me to help her get ready. She asked me to dust the living room; she would clean the bathroom, and when she came back, she would vacuum the living room.

Alone, as I had been taught, I removed everything from the first table to dust. I was only half done this chore when Mom returned. She saw what I was doing and said we didn’t have time for a proper cleaning. My new directions were to dust around the ornaments without moving them and skim the cloth across the decorations. As she was getting the vacuum, she said, “We only have time for a half-assed clean today.”

Over the years, when dusting, only completing a “half-assed clean,” I always think of Mom. This memory makes me smile as I recognize when I am pressed for time, and when I’m just being lazy and don’t want to dust properly.

I also was responsible for babysitting my younger siblings, particularly during school holidays. If Mom had to go out during the day for a short time, I was the babysitter. I was not paid for this because I received an allowance; babysitting was one of my chores. However, I was paid for babysitting if my parents went out in the evening; the longer hours had greater responsibility. I was well into my teens before I realized that other babysitters my age actually received wages even if they babysat during the daytime!

Mom supported my book reading and collecting habits and frequent trips to the public library. I remember being in Grade 3 and she took John and me to the Elliot Lake Public Library to become members. I was so excited to get my first library card! My number was 8533; John’s number was 8532, which I thought was unfair! I was the oldest! I should have been first! <a second smile> That library became my second home!

Mom knew I was quiet when I had a book! At times, when she needed to punish me, she would send me to my room. It was not really a punishment because I would just read after pondering the injustices of my troubled childhood! It was never my fault; Mom, or someone else, was always to blame! <another smile> It took me many years to realize that I was not being punished; she just wanted to be away from me and for me to be quiet!

Nancy Drew #34: 1956 Dustjacket/Pictorial Hardcover

One summer day, Mom returned from downtown; I was babysitting. She handed me a brand new Nancy Drew novel, The Hidden Window Mystery (original text) that I had not read! It was neither my birthday, nor another special occasion so I was quite surprised. She told me that I had babysat so much for her that week that she thought I deserved a treat! I asked her how she knew I did not have that book. “I checked your bookcase,” she replied.

At 18, I left home to go to college. I missed my family, particularly my mother, very much even though I was living with relatives. When I saw her a few weeks later, at Thanksgiving, our reunion was wonderful. She said she felt like the past month was as if someone had died!

During my 20s, I lived in Elliot Lake, the same community in which I had been raised and my parents lived. I saw them frequently. At 30, I knew my life needed to have experiences beyond Elliot Lake and its environs. My career path led me to North Bay.

Leaving my parents was very hard! Mom and I had agreed that we would have a phone call once a week on Sunday when long distance rates were less expensive. I was very happy when we started this practice.

At once time, Mom thought it would be better to save some money (she was concerned about my budget; less about her own since she was more comfortable financially) and call less frequently, but I convinced her that I so needed this regular contact. As I grew older and more used to being apart, I still needed to speak with her regularly, but not with the same intensity. However, we continued this tradition, and it was one she particularly needed after she became widowed.

Our telephone conversations sometimes were quite brief; around 30 minutes if neither had a very eventful week. However, they were often longer when we had both been busy, or one or the other or both had issues we needed to discuss. In the interest of full disclosure, honesty must prevail! Sometimes we just gossiped, also knowing as “sharing news!” <another smile>

I truly enjoyed Mom’s visits to my home when she came to North Bay, Orillia, Toronto, or Sudbury over the years. The first time she visited me in North Bay, we were sitting in the living room the Friday evening she arrived. I told her that I had changed the bed sheets that morning before I went to work.

MOM: That is nice. They will be fresh for you.
ME: I changed them for you. I am sleeping on the couch.
MOM: No. I’m sleeping on the couch.
ME: No, Mom, you’re sleeping in the bed.
MOM: I decided before I left Elliot Lake that I was sleeping on the couch.
ME: Mother, you’re a guest in my home. You’re supposed to sleep where I tell you!
MOM: I’m your mother. You’re supposed to listen to me!
ME: Mom, please sleep in the bed!
MOM: I’m on the couch. And, if you don’t listen to me, I’ll get the wooden spoon after you!
ME: <laughing> It’s MY wooden spoon!
MOM: <laughing> Don’t make me have to use it!
I’m sure that astute readers will know that I had the most comfortable sleep in my bed that weekend. (An aside: the wooden spoon was not removed from the drawer).

I didn’t usually address her as “Mother” unless I wanted to make a strong point! I could easily adopt a distinct, firm tone with “Mother” than “Mom.” (An aside: It rarely worked, but I tried!)

That same weekend, we had another conflict on Saturday morning. I had forgotten to buy jam for breakfast, and Mom often enjoyed it with her toast some mornings. I apologized for my oversight, and I said I would get some when we went shopping.

At the grocery store, I picked two small jars of jam, and put them in the cart. Ready to move on, I was detained by my mother.

Moms-jam

Mom’s Choice

My-jam

My Choice

MOM: Why are you buying two jars?
ME: So, you’ll have a choice.
MOM: I don’t need two kinds. And these are too expensive! (Mom picked up a large jar of strawberry jam from another shelf). This is one sale for 99 cents!
ME: The kind I picked is better quality. It will taste better (I removed her jar from the cart, and returned one of my jars to it).
MOM: This is cheaper and it’s fine. (Mom switched jars!)
ME: Mother, your jam is full of additives and preservatives.
MOM: Who cares? We’ve been eating them for years! (Before I could react, Mom walked away with the cart).
ACTION: Mom has jam with her toast the following morning.
ME: <sarcastically> Is it good?
MOM: <ignoring my sarcasm> Yes.
ME: Well, you can take it home with you. I won’t eat it.
SETTING THE SCENE: Of course, I had forgotten to give it to her when she was leaving. The next time, she came to visit; I had remembered to buy jam and chose the brand I had originally selected. I also bought two kinds so she would have a choice.
MOM: <regarding the jar>This wasn’t the jam I had the last time.
ME: <agreeable> No, it isn’t.
MOM: Did you eat it?
ME: No.
MOM: What did you do with it?
ME: I threw it out because it wasn’t fit to serve.
MOM: I’m not surprised!
ACTION: more laughter.

Starting Each Morning

One of my best memories of time spent with my mother was when she visited me in my apartments or in Toronto when I was boarding with a family. We would wake early on the first day after her arrival, usually a Saturday, and discuss plans for our shopping trip over a pot of coffee and breakfast. We would catch up on news and gossip and chat until we realized time was rapidly escaping. We would have to clean the kitchen, have showers (although Mom had often had hers before I awoke), and get dressed. It would be late morning or early afternoon before we set forth.

We’d have fun shopping for whatever she wanted or needed, and for what I needed. I would often take her shopping for clothes because she liked offered by the stores in the bigger cities. I was willing to go shopping for clothes because it was important to her, and it gave us time to spend together.

Depending on the time, we would sometimes have lunch or dinner at a restaurant. I always thought if I was shopping for most of the day, I didn’t have time to cook.

In recent years, as we both aged and our disabilities were taking their toll (Mom living with dementia/I with cerebral palsy/Parkinson’s disease), the shopping trips were less frequent and shorter. However, we both enjoyed them until we could no longer do them so easily.

One summer day in 2012, I visited her at the seniors’ residence where she lived before the nursing home and said, “On a day like this, we would have been out shopping and out for lunch. But these days are over for us!”

Mom replied that was okay. It was now easier for someone else to do the shopping. I agreed and said, “Also, online shopping works well!”

Over the years, Mom was part of many of my moves with the packing and unpacking. When I moved from North Bay to Orillia, that move was particularly challenging because my apartment was smaller and the layout was different. Mom came for a visit to help me unpack.

At one point, I decided my desk should have been moved from the living room where I had thought I wanted it to the room I was using as a library. We needed to move it ourselves because we didn’t have “strong male muscle” readily available. Mom took one end and walked forward; I took the other end and walked backward (my balance was quite steady in those days; pre-cane use). As we were moving the large desk down the narrow hallway, she commented, “At times like this, I really miss your father!” We were proud that we were able to move the desk successfully.

During that same trip, we were unpacking books and putting them on bookcases. Unfortunately, the packers hadn’t kept the books in any particular order so it was hard to find them to keep similar series books together. At one point, Mom commented that I had a lot of books. I responded that I hadn’t gotten rid of one since I was eight years old (at the time I was 35). “Isn’t it about time you did?” questioned Mom.

coconut-cake

Far too much coconut!

Mom was a guest in my home on her 65th birthday. I decided to make her a coconut birthday cake since she was very fond of coconut. I found a recipe and make a cake which had coconut in the both cake and the frosting. When I took my first bite, I didn’t like it! It was too much coconut! (An aside: only the cake or the frosting should have had coconut; not both!)

ME: This is horrible!
MOM: No, it’s good.
ME: There’s too much coconut!
MOM: I like it.
ME: (after taking another bite – I thought I was missing something here). No, it’s still horrible!
MOM: It’s not.
ME: You’re just being polite.
ACTION: After dinner, we were cleaning the kitchen. I picked up the pan that had the remains of the cake.
ME: Mom, would you like more cake?
MOM: No, thanks. I don’t want any more.
ME: No, I don’t want anymore either.
ACTION: I discarded the cake in the garbage. Mom’s facial expression showed disbelief.
MOM: I can’t believe you threw good cake in the garbage!
ME: I didn’t! I threw horrible cake in the garbage!
MOM: It was good!
ME: Well, I didn’t like it, and you said you didn’t want anymore.
MOM: I don’t want it now, but maybe I want some tomorrow.
ME: I’ll make another dessert tomorrow.
MOM: For the garbage?
ME: Not if it’s good!
ACTION: <laughter>

I have hundreds of stories of the good times and many laughs Mom and I have shared. I could also speak of times of conflict and strive, but these experiences are less than positive, but we always worked it out; usually very quickly because we didn’t like conflict with each other.

Over time, Mom and I also shared many serious conversations that were both deeply personal and meaningful. She has been one of my strongest and consistent supporters throughout my life. She always believed in me! Circa 2005, in conversation, I told her that I knew she always wanted the best for me. Smiling, she responded, “And I still do.”

Mom’s long illness of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease has taken her mind and abilities, but I always know who she is even if she sometimes doesn’t know me. The mother I’ve knew before her illness is very much living, vital, active and present in my memory and heart. There isn’t a day that passes when I’m not reminded of her. Someone or something will trigger a memory of this cherished parent.

The journey of Mom living with illness has been very challenging for me, particularly in the beginning when I didn’t understand it. Reading about the condition and talking with others who lived with a parent with dementia gave me information and knowledge which translates in the ability to cope. Over time, I became very gentle with her most of the time. At a restaurant gathering to celebrate one of her birthdays, one of her friends once commented that I was so patient with her.

William Land, Mary Land Mom's birthday: Either 1989 or 1990

William Land, Mary Land
Mom’s birthday: Either 1989 or 1990

One time, after helping her, she looked directly at me and declared, “You’re good to your mother!” Smiling, I told her that she was easy to be good too. It was a tender moment shared by two people who care about one another.

I am not a patient person by nature, and was surprised by “the new me.” I commented to a good friend that I didn’t realize I could be so patient. He said, “You are because you love her.”

I always tried to be patient and not react negatively to inappropriate behaviour, but sometimes I didn’t succeed. At these times, I had a lesson enforced and had to learn to forgive myself when I reacted badly. I was then grateful that, due to her condition, Mom wouldn’t remember the upsetting reaction.

It’s been slightly over 10 years since Mom started to develop signs of her condition. Over time, I had to accept that I lost her long ago. She is a shell of the once vital person she was. Sooner, rather than later I hope, she will breathe her last. I strongly feel Mom will be called to a better, happier place than her present. On that day, I expect to be very sad and shed tears, but I shall also take the opportunity to celebrate the life of this truly remarkable woman. Mary Land, the woman I call Mom, has impacted so strongly and positively on my life. For this amazing gift, I am very thankful.

 
Written: May 2014
Revised: March 2015
©2015

Discovering Nancy Drew

Discovering Nancy Drew

by William Land

One summer (1970) my parents had returned home from a visit with family in Southern Ontario. I was eleven years-old. My mother had purchased two series books for me as a gift: one Bobbsey Twins title (a series I was currently reading) and a Hardy Boys book (an unfamiliar series). An older cousin, Beverly O’Brien, had given my mother several worn girls’ series books for me. I think there were six or eight books in that bundle; I only recall two titles specifically. They were The Scarlet Slipper Mystery, (Nancy Drew, ©1954) by Carolyn Keene, and The Mystery of the Phantom, (Robin Kane, ©1966) by Eileen Hill. I can only assume that I wasn’t too interested in the other books; otherwise, I would have remembered them clearly.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1954. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1954.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1954.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1954.

On another day that same summer, my mother sent me to my bedroom as a punishment for some misdeed of which, at the time of this writing, I can’t recall. No doubt I was sobbing, pondering bitterly on this injustice, and feeling hard done by a parent who did not agree that life would be better for everyone in the family if my needs and desires were first.

After I dried tears, I knew it was too soon to ask to be released so I looked at the bookcase and found the not yet read novels from Beverly. I thought the much-loved copy (read battered) of a Nancy Drew mystery; The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (1954 original text) must be a good book because of its condition. This book had worn and bent corners, scratched covers, a missing yellow spine, cracked hinges, and significant foxing.

Upon opening the book to the first page and reading the exciting opening line about a possible plane crash, I was captivated! Immediately, I found this story to be much more exciting than the adventures of the Bobbsey Twins and Donna Parker, the books I had previously read before Nancy Drew. The pretty, blond, blue-eyed girl detective and her thrilling adventures in River Heights and its environs instantly captivated this first-time reader. Nancy’s investigation, involving displaced refugees, smuggled jewels, lost paintings, and the scarlet ballet dancing slippers, was dangerous, exciting and intriguing.

Like a fly trapped in a spider’s spinning web, I was caught in the thrills of this exciting mystery. So great was my enjoyment that I forgot I was being punished.

The house was quiet. My dad and younger brothers were away; Mom and I were the only two at home. She was working out front in her flower garden when I heard a male voice call, “Hi, Gorgeous!” This strange person was speaking to my mother!

Curious about the mystery outside my window, I set aside the Nancy Drew book, and saw a man and a woman, whom I did not recognize, approach my mother in her yard. She obviously knew them, and invited them indoors.

Mary Quigley Land - December 1971 - Elliot Lake ON

Mary Quigley Land – December 1971 – Elliot Lake ON

I remained puzzled! Who were these people? Why did he call my mother “gorgeous?” She couldn’t be! She was Mom! She was very old … she was 38! (An aside: at the time of this writing, I am 55 years old!)

Knowing that I couldn’t solve that mystery, I returned to my book, reading almost to the first half of the novel. Hearing several voices downstairs, I knew that my family had returned home and the company was still present.

Upon entering the kitchen where most people had gathered, I was introduced to the couple. The man was a first cousin of my father; the woman was his then fiancée (now wife).

After the introductions, my mother shot me a curious look! No doubt she was wondering why I stayed in my bedroom so long without asking to be released. Likely, she thought I might have been “up to something,” but what? With company present, we both knew she wouldn’t ask questions! In turn, I shot her a smug look and kept my secret that day: I had discovered Nancy Drew!

 
March 2015
©2015 William Land

My Grandmother and My Books

My Grandmother and My Books
by William Land

My grandmother, Mary Burns Land, introduced me to the love of reading at a young age.

Mary Jane Burns Land, 1911-1976 Date/Location: 1969/Elliot Lake ON

Mary Jane Burns Land, 1911-1976
Date/Location: 1969/Elliot Lake ON

My fondest childhood memories are of the times we spent together – we were very close. Nana was one of the earliest influences in my life. I remember how she loved me unconditionally. I was her first Land grandson and she made sure I knew I was special to her.

My greatest memories around visiting her and Poppa were the quiet times in their household. Nana introduced me at an early age to the world of books and reading and we had several book buying trips and lunch outings when I became a bit older. She always made sure that I had lots of books to read.

My grandmother was a very smart woman, although, as was typical of women from her generation, she was not educated. Nana had decided at a my young age that she would expose me to the world of books, and began a tradition during which she and I would go downtown during my visit to buy books and have lunch together.

During one such visit, she and I were looking through her photograph albums. I was thrilled by this activity because I liked seeing pictures of my father, his siblings, and other relatives who lived before my time. Also, I truly enjoyed her stories and remembrances. That day she told me why she introduced me to reading and owning books for pleasure. I recall Nana said that “you needed something to fill your time because you can’t run and play sports [due to disability] like the other boys [my brothers] so I always made sure you had a lot of books.”

Nancy Drew #20: THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX, ©1943. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1962.

Nancy Drew #20: THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX, ©1943.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1962.

I probably was about ten or eleven when the tradition first started that Nana would take me book shopping and for lunch downtown when I visited she and Poppa during my school breaks (usually three or four times a year). We would head downtown Sudbury, the community where she lived, by city bus. Nana would take me to the places that sold books (the bookstores and department stores). She would let me choose the books I wanted and usually told me the number that she would buy for me. I remember one of the earliest books she purchased for me became one of my favourite Nancy Drew books; The Clue in the Jewel Box; the 1943 original text with the updated 1962 cover art. I am very fond of both this story and painting.

This would take the better part of two or three hours depending upon the day and how we felt about walking. At some point, we would sit down for lunch at the Woolworth’s or Kresge’s lunch counter and then back for more book hunting, often returning to her home with one or two large shopping bags full of books.

Nana would personally inscribe many of the books she purchased for me. Sadly, I don’t have most of those books any longer because I read, re-read and shared them among my classmates so frequently that they became worn. When I decided to seriously collect the books, I wanted copies in “collectible condition” so I replaced the battered books with their new counterparts. When I wished I had kept the childhood treasures, I looked through my library and found some of the books Nana had inscribed for me. These treasured tomes hold a special place in my collection.

One such book is a Hardy Boys novel, The Hooded Hawk Mystery, ©1971, 1954. On the verso of the front endpaper, my grandmother wrote:
“1975
Your Grandparents 50th anniversary plus 2 weeks at camp and a day in Sudbury with Nana buying books. May you always be this happy Bill. With love always,
Yours always,
Nana.”

Nancy Drew #52: THE SECRET OF THE FORGOTTEN CITY, ©1975. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1975.

Nancy Drew #52: THE SECRET OF THE FORGOTTEN CITY, ©1975.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1975.

Hardy Boys #34: THE HOODED HAWK MYSTERY, ©1971. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1971.

Hardy Boys #34: THE HOODED HAWK MYSTERY, ©1971.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1971.

In another book, my grandparent inscribed:
“To a fine boy
With our Love
Nana & Poppa.”
That book is a Nancy Drew mystery, The Secret of the Forgotten City, ©1975.

One Christmas (1975) I had received 23 new series books! What a tidy haul – the biggest one in my memory! Some of them came from my parents and grandparents for Christmas; others from Santa Claus, and the balance from a pre-Christmas book shopping trip.

Nana initiated a book buying trip a few days before Christmas because I happened to be in Sudbury with my parents. Soon after our arrival at her home, Nana announced that she and I would go shopping. My parents protested, but her children and in-laws rarely argued with my grandmother and won. She agreed to one concession: we would return within two hours. (An aside: This was one of the few times I saw that my father didn’t get his way when he issued a directive. Since it rarely happened, I enjoyed this, but wisely kept my glee to myself!)

Due to the time constraints, we didn’t have stop for lunch, but shopped quickly among the throng of holiday shoppers, returning with more bounty. Before leaving Sudbury, Nana told me they weren’t part of my Christmas present so I could read them right away. However, my mother felt differently and she kept them until Christmas morning. I knew that I couldn’t successfully argue with my mother on this issue without my grandmother to take my part. <smile>

As delighted as I was with all the new books, I was a bit disappointed that only one Nancy Drew book was among the presents; Nancy, being after all, my favourite series. However, I had to consider that I had a complete collection of the in-print titles with this new acquisition. Naturally, this revised text of Mystery of the Tolling Bell, ©1973, was the first book I started on Christmas morning.

Nancy Drew #23: MYSTERY OF THE TOLLING BELL, ©1973. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1973.

Nancy Drew #23: MYSTERY OF THE TOLLING BELL, ©1973.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1973.

The memory of this 1975 Christmastime shopping trip is strong; it was the last time we had such an outing. My beloved grandmother passed away on April 2, 1976; this date clearly stands out in my memory. Nana had had heart issues for many years. She passed away when I was sixteen and I was absolutely devastated for months afterwards.

I am so fortunate to have many loving and wonderful memories of Nana; most of them are not included in this post because they don’t involve books. My grandmother was a very strong influence in my life. She always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything that I wanted in life. I know she thought the sun rose and set on me, a comment that my mother and Aunt Polly both made to me in conversations over the years.

Nana was instrumental in fostering my love of Nancy Drew and other series books. When I was an adult, my aunt Phyllis (Polly) told me that “Mother always enjoyed your shopping trips.” When she became ill in later life and her memory was failing, she had told her daughter in a phone conversation that I was visiting that day. We had gone downtown and had lunch and I was in her guest room reading. Aunt Polly knew that wasn’t true because of a major snow storm that had shut down the city that day, but her mother had found comfort in his memory.

Another time, my mother protested that Nana was buying too many books and that I should be limited to one or two. Nana politely disagreed with Mom and told her “it was a grandmother’s prerogative to spoil her grandchildren.”

I once shared this story with Aunt Polly. Nana, too, shared book buying trips with Beth and Peggy, my older cousins, (Aunt Polly’s daughters). My aunt commented that what Nana had told my mother was nicer than she had told her.

“What did Nana say to you?” I inquired.

I was a bit surprised by this response: “Mother told me to shut up! I didn’t ask you to pay for them!” The answer is abrupt and rude, but I suspect there might have been more to the conversation than I was told. Knowing this aunt as well as I do, I feel she could have challenged her parent on the issue to the point of anger; in turn, my mother would not have objected very strongly with her mother-in-law.

One time, Nana and I returned from shopping and Auntie Barb and Uncle Don were visiting. As the adults conversed, I was eagerly rifling through my hoard of books. I overheard her say to Auntie Barb, “I love how his eyes sparkle when he looks through his books.”

Hardy Boys: THE HARDY BOYS DETECTIVE HANDBOOK, ©1972. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1972.

Hardy Boys: THE HARDY BOYS DETECTIVE HANDBOOK, ©1972.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1972.

During one trip Nana was selecting books for me. She stood before the shelves at Coles bookstore in downtown Sudbury, pulling a copy of each title from its place on the shelf. She asked me whether or not I had it.

Upon hearing “yes,” she would return it to the shelf. When I said “no,” she put it in a pile to purchase.

Observing the growing pile and, perhaps fearing my mother’a disapproval, I hesitated to answer at one point, saying instead, “Mom told us that you shouldn’t buy too many books for me.” My grandmother responded, much to my delight, that we didn’t have to listen to her.

During a 2001 visit at Aunt Cora’s home (another of Nana’s daughters) in London ON, she had talked about her family’s love for books and how much her mother enjoyed reading, encouraging her children to read. Aunt Cora said they didn’t have a lot of money, but books were often given as gifts. She then excused herself and returned a few minutes later with a few books from her girlhood. I can’t recall the exact number, now, or the titles except for a Penny Parker book by Mildred A. Wirt (the original ghostwriter of the Nancy Drew series). Aunt Cora told me that my father had given her this book one Christmas. She also told me that “Nana would have been so proud about what you have done with your book collection.”

In 2004, I moved to Sudbury to live. The downtown core has changed significantly (all the stores we were frequented are gone) since the days of the early to mid-1970s when Nana and I would go shopping, but I still see it more the way I remember it than the way it actually is.

Nancy Drew #30: THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK, ©1969. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1969.

Nancy Drew #30: THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK, ©1969.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1969.

I am grateful for the strong bond between a grandparent and grandchild; one I shared with my cherished grandmother, Mary Jane Burns Land (1911-1976). It is very rare that I don’t think of Nana when I pick up a book to read, any book, for she gave me the great gift: the love of books and reading.
Written: April 2014; January 2007
Revised: February 2015
©2015

My Favourite Nancy Drew Books

NANCY DREW SERIES LOGO Artist: Bill Gillies, ©1950.

My Favourite Nancy Drew Books

by William Land

Nancy Drew #2 – THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE, ©1930. Artist: Russell H. Tandy, ©1930

As a life-long fan of Nancy Drew and similar series for children, I am writing about my favourite books in the classic mystery series.

I offer my choices not in favourite order, but chronological series number. Since I am very familiar with the classic series (first 56 books), I’ll confine my remarks to that series even though I enjoyed some of the later books too.

2. THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE (Original Text)
To me, this book is more exciting than the volume that introduced Nancy Drew, girl detective. The mysterious stone mansion with its many secret staircases and passageways, the frightened elderly twin sisters, and the strange thefts make for exciting reading. Carson Drew’s kidnapping at the hands of miserly, Nathan Gombet, and Gombet’s cruel servant, “the slovenly unnamed negress,” bring new meanings to the words “thrilling adventure.” Nancy looks appropriately inquisitive and beautiful in a 1930s style on this dustjacket cover art. The revised story, with a completely different plot, is also very good, but it doesn’t effectively compare to the original story.

4. THE MYSTERY AT LILAC INN (Revised Text)

Nancy Drew #4: THE MYSTERY AT LILAC INN, ©1961. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1961. Note: This art was used on both dustjacket and pictorial hardcover.

Doubles and impersonators are one of my favourite series themes. I love this book’s cover—lilacs are a favourite flower and the titian-blond is not, as one might expect, Nancy Drew!

9. THE SIGN OF THE TWISTED CANDLES (Original/Revised Texts)
The strain on Nancy’s friendship with Bess and George due to a long-standing family feud is a departure from the usual relationship dynamics found in the series. This plot twist is more realistic than the friendship without significant problems from other books, making the girls’ relationships more realistic. Nancy’s resemblance to a woman in a long-ago portrait is fascinating. On the revised text cover art, Nancy looks especially beautiful.

Nancy Drew #10 - THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1960.   Artist: Unknown, ©1960. Note: The artist is likely either Bill Gillies or Rudy Nappi. This artwork was only used in the United Kingdom; Nancy's pose was considered too risqué for the USA market.

Nancy Drew #10 – THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1960.
Artist: Unknown, ©1960.
Note: The artist is likely either Bill Gillies or Rudy Nappi. This artwork was only used in the United Kingdom; Nancy’s pose was considered too risqué for the USA market.

10. THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE (Original/Revised Texts)
The inclusion of Effie Schneider in the story, Nancy’s disguise as an elderly woman to gain entrance to the fraudulent sanatorium, and her courage and determination in facing down the fake doctor are very exciting. While I enjoy both versions, I especially like that Helen Corning, an underused character in the series, has a huge role in the original story. Additionally, the cover art from the British Sampson and Low edition depicts a very lovely Nancy kneeling near the fence to speak to the elderly woman in a wheelchair on the other side. I’m saddened this art was never used on the North American publications because it is so beautiful.

20. THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX (Original/Revised Texts)

Nancy Drew #20: THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX, ©1943. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1962.

A romantic tale featuring the exiled former queen of an unknown country, her many treasures especially the jewelled Easter egg, the fashion show and designer gown, and the clever way in which the pickpockets, for a time, fool Nancy appeal to my sense of adventure. Helen Corning (Archer in the revised book) makes another significant appearance in the series. Rudy Nappi’s first picture cover art shows Nancy and the former queen, elegantly dressed, in luxurious surroundings.

21. THE SECRET IN THE OLD ATTIC (Original/Revised Texts)
To me, this book has all the elements of a successful Nancy Drew mystery: a search for lost treasure (in this case music), an old rundown rambling mansion ironically named Pleasant Hedges, another Effie appearance, and both Bess and George have significant roles in the story. The subplot in the original Story in which Ned asks Diane Dight, instead of Nancy to the dance, shows a different dynamic of their relationship.

Nancy Drew #22: THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBLING WALL, ©1945. Artist: Russell H. Tandy, ©1945.

22. THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBLING WALL (Original/Revised Texts)
The romantic story of the wealthy button manufacturer and the talented dancer and their sudden broken long-ago romance is told amidst the backdrop of a run-down castle. A new character, Lieutenant Masters, is introduced as a River Heights policewoman. She was interesting enough to have become a recurring character in the series. I’m disappointed this never happened.

Nancy Drew #29: MYSTERY AT THE SKI JUMP, ©1968. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1968.

29. THE MYSTERY AT THE SKI JUMP (Original/Revised Texts)
This story features a female villain who pretends to be Nancy Drew. Again the impostor theme is present. The winter season, appearances by Aunt Eloise Drew, and the stock swindle and fur coat thefts are very appealing.

30. THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK (Original/Revised Texts)
This story of daring party thieves is told within the confines of society parties. Descriptions of Nancy’s adventures at such parties and her elegant wardrobe are appealing. The intriguing masquerade of George Fayne as Nancy Drew and her subsequent decline into fearfulness are exciting to read. It’s a fine tribute to the last Nancy Drew book by Mildred Wirt Benson.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1954. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1954.

32. THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY (Original/Revised Texts)
The refugees from Centrovia, the smuggled paintings, and the scarlet ballet slippers are intriguing elements of this interesting Nancy Drew mystery. I’m partial to this book because the original story is my introduction to the mysteries of Nancy Drew. Although Nancy looks older than her years on this cover art, I enjoy her tailored outfit (black skirt and long-sleeved red blouse), complimenting her attractive, wavy blond hairstyle.

Nancy Drew #38: THE MYSTERY OF THE FIRE DRAGON. ©1961. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1961.

38. THE MYSTERY OF THE FIRE DRAGON
The search for missing Chinese girl, a neighbour of Eloise Drew, and George Fayne’s impersonation of this girl among the streets of New York are exciting. Also, Nancy’s cleverness in using a lipstick to write an SOS message on the plane window after she’s been kidnapped is unusual and thrilling. This cover art is very bright and colourful and Nancy looks especially attractive in her yellow ensemble.

Nancy Drew  #48: THE CROOKED BANISTER, ©1971. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1971.

Nancy Drew #48: THE CROOKED BANISTER, ©1971.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1971.

48. THE CROOKED BANISTER
This is one of the better 1970s Nancy Drew books although I feel the quality of the writing and the believability of the plots had significantly had generally declined from 1966 to present. While the book does have its implausible moments, I find the villain unusual for a Nancy Drew mystery. He clearly suffers from mental illness and, interestingly, is never found or brought to justice. Rawley Banister should have made another appearance in a subsequent book. Also, the cover art is in the late-1960s/1970s style (attractive young lady face … or big head!) Nancy looks absolutely gorgeous in her natural-flip reddish-blond hairstyle and fuchsia outfit with, not coincidentally, matches the book cover background.

49. THE SECRET OF MIRROR BAY
This tale features another Nancy Drew look-alike and Miss Eloise Drew is a major character in this story. The romantic tale of a grieving royal family burying their deceased child’s old carriage sealed in a box and sung into a bay, is a sad and intriguing plot. Other mysteries including a vacation hoax and a weird, strange green-glowing mountain man is fascinating. The cover art shows Nancy peering from behind the leaves of a tree is mysterious, but I remember finding it very disturbing as a child, and still somewhat so as an adult.

Bibliography:

2. THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE (Original text)
Outline: Edward Stratemeyer; Text: Mildred Wirt
Keene, Carolyn. The hidden staircase. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1930. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 2) 206 pp.

4. THE MYSTERY AT LILAC INN (Revised text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Patricia Doll
Keene, Carolyn. The mystery at Lilac Inn. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1961. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 4) 180 pp.

9. THE SIGN OF THE TWISTED CANDLES (Original text)
Outline: Edna Stratemeyer Squire; Text: Walter Karig
Keene, Carolyn. The sign of the twisted candles. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1933. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 9) 217 pp.

Nancy Drew #9: THE SIGN OF THE TWISTED CANDLES, ©1968. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1968.

9b. THE SIGN OF THE TWISTED CANDLES (Revised text)

Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Patricia Doll
Keene, Carolyn. The sign of the twisted candles. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1968. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 9) 176 pp.

10. THE PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE (Original text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Walter Karig
Keene, Carolyn. The password to Larkspur Lane. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1933. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 10) 220 pp.

Nancy Drew #10 – PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE, ©1966. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1966.

10b. PASSWORD TO LARKSPUR LANE (Revised text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Patricia Doll
Keene, Carolyn. Password to Larkspur Lane. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1966. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 10) 175 pp.

20. THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX (Original text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Mildred Wirt
Keene, Carolyn. The clue in the jewel box. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1943. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 20) 216 pp.

Nancy Drew #20: THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX, ©1972. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1972.

20b. THE CLUE IN THE JEWEL BOX (Revised text)
Outline: Priscilla Baker-Carr; Text: Julie Irish
Keene, Carolyn. The clue in the jewel box. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1972. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 20) 181 pp.

21. THE SECRET IN THE OLD ATTIC (Original text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Mildred Wirt
Keene, Carolyn. The secret in the old attic. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1944. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 21) 216 pp.

21b. THE SECRET IN THE OLD ATTIC (Revised text)
Outline: Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Priscilla Baker-Carr
Keene, Carolyn. The secret in the old attic. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1970. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 21) 177 pp.

22. THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBLING WALL (Original text)
Keene, Carolyn. The clue in the crumbling wall. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1945. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 22) 217 pp.
Original; Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Mildred Wirt

Nancy Drew #22: THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBLING WALL, ©1945. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1962.

22b. THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBLING WALL (Revised text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Priscilla Baker-Carr
Keene, Carolyn. The clue in the crumbling wall. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1973. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 22) 181 pp.

29. THE MYSTERY AT THE SKI JUMP (Original text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Alma Sasse
Keene, Carolyn. The mystery at the ski jump. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1952. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 29) 212 pp.

29b. THE MYSTERY AT THE SKI JUMP (Revised text)
Outline: Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Ann Shultes
Keene, Carolyn. Mystery at the ski jump. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1952. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 29) 176 pp.

30. THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK (Original text)
Outline: Andrew E. Swenson; Text: Mildred Wirt Benson
Keene, Carolyn. The clue of the velvet mask. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1953. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 30) 211 pp.

Nancy Drew #30: THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK, ©1969. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1969.

Nancy Drew #30: THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK, ©1969.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1969.

30b. THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK (Revised text)
Outline: Andrew E. Swenson; Text: Priscilla Baker-Carr
Keene, Carolyn. The clue of the velvet mask. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1969. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 30) 177 pp.

32. THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY (Original text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Charles Strong
Keene, Carolyn. The scarlet slipper mystery. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1954. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 32) 214 pp.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1974. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1974.

Nancy Drew #32: THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY, ©1974.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1974.

32b. THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY (Revised text)
Outline: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; Text: Ann Shultes
Keene, Carolyn. The scarlet slipper mystery. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1974. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 32) 179 pp.

38. THE MYSTERY OF THE FIRE DRAGON
Outline/Text: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
Keene, Carolyn. The mystery of the fire dragon. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1961. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 38) 182 pp.

Nancy Drew  #49: THE SECRET OF MIRROR BAY, ©1972. Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1972.

Nancy Drew #49: THE SECRET OF MIRROR BAY, ©1972.
Artist: Rudy Nappi, ©1972.

48. THE CROOKED BANISTER
Outline/Text: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
Keene, Carolyn. The crooked banister. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1971. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 48) 179 pp.

49. THE SECRET OF MIRROR BAY
Outline/Text: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
Keene, Carolyn. The secret of Mirror Bay. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, ©1972. (Nancy Drew mystery stories; 49) 178 pp.

©2015
Written: March 2011
Revised: February 2015