Nancy Drew Dec. 1995 Illinois
; Seven decades later, Nancy Drew still sleuthing 1 By Erica Noonan Associated Press Writer BOSTON For girls too old for dolls but too young for dates, Nancy Drew was the perfect after-school companion. Nancy was brave and beautiful as she endured cobwebby attics and haunted mansions in search of clues. A rich kid, she had her own car and stylish wardrobe, and she never had to worry about school, flute lessons, Girl Scout meetings or setting the table be-fore dinner. Sometimes Nancy would be abducted and even knocked unconscious, but no little girl who curled up with a book on a rainy afternoon ever panicked. After all, our heroine was never seri-ously hurt. The Nancy Drew mysteries were the currency of girlhood, cheerful yellow-spined hardbacks that appeared under the Christmas tree or wrapped with ribbons on birthdays. While boys traded baseball cards, girls swapped mysteries and acted them out, always fighting over who would get to be Nancy. Now, nearly 70 years after she uncovered a hidden will in "The Secret of the Old Clock," the tit-ian-haired teen sleuth is still detecting, still dating Ned Nicker-son and still cruising around River Heights with best chums Bess and George. True, she has traded in her blue roadster for a van, and swapped her cardigan sweater sets and white gloves for designer jeans and scuba gear. But while other literary heroines like Cherry Ames and Vicky Barr faded into obscurity, Nancy has managed to remain an enduring ideal of femininity and ferninism. Nancy's Everyboy counterparts, Frank and Joe Hardy, were also American ideals zooming around fictional Bayport on motorcycles and speedboats. But it is Nancy who continues to leave little girls spellbound with such capers as "The Clue of the Tapping Heels," from the 1930s, in which she helps a retired actress recover her stolen Persian cats, and the more recent "The E-Mail Mystery," about a cyberspace prowler. How did an overachieving teen become an enduring cultural icon, and along with Joe and Frank Hardy, sell over 200 million books in 17 languages more volumes than even the empress of mystery, Agatha Christie? "Girls would try to identify withherbecauseshewassomuch more interesting than everyday PUBLIC SESSIONS THIS WEEKEND FRIDAY 6:30 -MIDNIGHT SATURDAY 1:00 - 4:30 P.M. 6:30 -10:30 P.M. SUNDAY 1:00 - 4:30 P.M. ADMISSIONS: Friday Evenhms $ 5.00 imu row. Sura Afternoon Sessions $3.00 $1.00 sun Roth Saturday Evewnos $4.00 $1.00 Sun Ram 234-6667 N. Rt. 45, Mattoon IN THE DISPLAY Catitedi" Display theme) SELECTED 16, 1998 1998 From 5-9 P.M Electric 235-5661 n s ' ' 1 i S '-. - . ',' ' "40 ' W V M . y ',.:.. I .r ' AP Photo The Secret of the Old Clock," published in 1 930, was the first of the Nancy Drew mysteries. The series continues today with updated editions displaying their original covers. , life. They gave young kids something to look forward to about adulthood," said Carole Kismaric, who, with writing partner Marvin Heiferman, recently co-authored "The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys," published by Simon & Schuster. Looking through a lens of history and popular culture, the book explores why Nancy, in particular, has captivated generations of girls dating back to the Depression. Unlike most of her young readers, Nancy never had a airfew or a mother (she died when Nancy was a baby) to nag her. She had a doting father, famous and handsome attorney Carson Drew, to praise everything she did. In Nancy's world, risk was rewarded and a teen-age girl could thwart jewel thieves, thugs, kidnappers and any number of assorted bad guys. Those messages were often at odds with a culture that told young girls just the opposite, Kismaric said. "When I read Nancy in the '50s, you were supposed to be a wife and mother," she said. "And there was this girl who did anything she wanted to do. She almost gave you permission." And so, Nancy captured the market because' girls really needed her close calls with danger. Many celebrities, including opera star Beverly Sills and actress Demi Moore, have cited Nancy as an early influence, Kismaric said. Even television's Barbara Walters, one of the first women to succeed in the formerly all-male bastion of broadcast journalism, said she was inspired by Nancy's trailblazing. "I grew up on Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins," Walters told The Associated Press. The Bobb sey Twins were goody-goody, and -. Nancy Drew was fearless. I wanted to be somewhere between both." Oddly enough, the nation's most popular teen detective began as just another series in the assembly-line fiction serializa-".. tion empire founded by Edward . Stratemeyer in the late 1800s. He1 created the popular Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Baseball Joe," the Rover Boys and Bomba the ; Jungle Boy series and also expert imented with female characters . in the Honey Bunch books and Ruth Fielding film producer series before deciding to create a girls' mystery-adventure. Mildred Wirt Benson, a young journalist, was hired to write the books based on two-page plot out-lines written by Stratemeyer himself. In 1930, using the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, she wrote "The Secret of the Old Clock," in which Nancy thwarts a gang of thieves and discovers an inheritance in an antique clock. It didn't take the syndicate long to produce dozens more titles, including "The Bungalow Mystery," where Nancy helps an orphan in search of her guardians, and "The Secret ofRed Gate Farm," in which Nancy saves a farm family from counterfeiters. The early hardcovers, containing original art, sold for 50 cents each. Soon after the books were launched, Stratemeyer died and his daughter, Harriet Adams, took over the series. Using her own outlines, she gave Benson and the numerous writers who followed strict instructions on how Nancy and the Hardy Boys were to be written: "The stories are fast moving, exciting and have a high moral tone. No vulgarity, no profanity, no sex." In the 1950s, Adams overhauled both Nancy and The Hardy Boys,agingNancyfrom 16 to 18 and making the stories shorter and faster-paced. In an attempt to appeal to kids with ever-shorter attention spans, Adams clipped the books from 25 chapters to 20, gutting much of the lengthy, layered language and descriptions that critics claim were central to the books' charm and uniqueness. "Gone were the leisurely styled, evocative words and. phrases that kids savored in the early texts, at a time when enter- tainment was harder to come by,' Heiferman and Kismaric write. ' Selections from Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books tugged at it. Nothing happened ..." ' By The Associated Press Nancy does battle with a mysterious stranger when she receives a letter meant for a British heiress, also named Nancy Drew, in "Nancy's Mysterious Letter"( 1932): "T am Nancy Drew,' said the girl quietly. "T know you are Nancy Drew,' mimicked the stranger. 'I've seen you go flibberty-jibbit in your auto many a time. When I was a girl, girls stayed at home and learned to cook and sew and mind their own business, not to go gallivantin' around in swell autos and waited on hand and foot. I declare I don't know what the world is coming to.' "If you have come here to lecture me, would you mind waiting until I have finished my luncheon? Nancy asked." Frank and Joe Hardy risk life and limb when an airplane pilot tells them to jump from the wing of a sputtering plane en route to Great Britain in "What Happened at Mid-night"(1931): Twisting and turning through the air, the lads plunged towards the earth. Desperately Frank groped for the ring of the rip cord. It eluded his grasp. Sudden panic gripped him ... he was dropping toward earth at an ever-increasing speed. He might already have reached an altitude too low to permit the parachute to open in time. Then his groping hand found the ring. He gripped it convulsively and Nancy arrives at a dude ranch ui Phoenix for a vacation with chums . Bess Marvin andGeorgeFayne, but ' finds herself uncovering hidden treasure and solving the curse of outlaw Dirk Valentine in "The Se-, cret of Shadow Ranch" (1965): , "AshiverranupNancy'sspine.It was impossible! 1 ' "She walked slowly, puzzling over the incident. Suddenly a long weird whistle sounded in the direction of the meadow. From among ' the bordering trees as if in r& sponse to the whistle galloped a white, filmy horse! The phantom!"-. MUST 3LE - of Commerce IL 61938 PHONE mi 11 Frank and Joe Hardy brave the wilds of Northern Canada to break up a ringof thieves who have stolen a collection of stuffed animals from a county auction from The Short-Wave Mystery" (1966): "'Hey Dad!' Joe exclaimed. Think we might get anything from this? "Fenton Hardy squatted downto : examine the paper remnant. 'It's '; worth a try.' .... The charred paper 1 wasgentlysweptontoaglassplate, " then sprayed with fixative, and ' " flattened under another plate. ; Itermtheboys'crimelabathome, ; the scrap was photographed on an orthochromatic plate and printed ! on high-contrast paper. Three ; words could be made out in the; ghostly scrawl." ;! Nancy is working undercover as J a student to investigate a series of thefts at Bedford High School, when someone sends her a video- tape of herself, warning her to stay away from the case in "Secrets Can; Kill" The Nancy Drew Files (1986): : "Handsonherhips,NancyDrew ; stood in the middle of her bedroom and surveyed the situation. New clothes lay everywhere strewn ; across the bed, draped over the ' backs of chairs and spilling out of ! shopping bags. Laughing at the ! mess, Nancy reached for a just-; bought pair of designer jeans. Ii "1 low do you like the new look in ' private detective?' she said, slip-; ping the jeans on. Undercover and overdressed."'