Nancy Drew: Nancy Has Created a Monster

magnificator Nancy DrewNancy Drew: Nancy Has Created a Monster

Nancy Drew books

The beginning of building back my Nancy Drew collection!

As my granddaughter, Ella is beginning to read and reading quite well… my mind began thinking back to my reading days. The days I fell in love with Nancy Drew… and it was quite an obsession with her. Didn’t we all want every single book? My blog title post could very easily be Nancy Drew book No. 57!

I soon began looking at books at the weekend tag sales, which has us up and out of the house very early! It was weeks before I found even one… it was so discouraging… where was Nancy Drew hiding? Finally, I found my first book in Southington, at their yearly town-wide tag sale on the green. I was beyond words, wanting to grab it and run, but the price tag of 5 dollars made me lay it back down. I couldn’t pay that price for each one… there are 56 titles in the series.

As we walked around, I told hubby that I had found one, and he was like – “why didn’t you buy it?” After telling him what it was marked, he said “and you didn’t offer another price, I”m surprised at you.” After chastising myself as to why I didn’t, we walked back around, and there it still was, “The Mystery at Lilac Inn.” I picked it up and asked the seller, “could you do any better?” She immediately offered it to me for three dollars… and I quickly said: “Sold.” I was so ecstatic to put it in my bag… it’s mine! Finally, I broke my unlucky streak!

Lilac Inn book

I broke my unlucky streak with The Mystery at Lilac Inn!

While they haven’t come in droves, a few have dribbled into my sight at flea markets and tag sales. I joined the Facebook groups on vintage children series books, which has given me more history information on them and I’ve learned about other series I never even heard of. Sure I can buy them online at the various selling pages, but that’s not the way I want to find them. I want my “little eye” to spot them sitting on a bookshelf in a dealers booth or digging through a box at the flea market. My eye can quickly spot those covers and spines… the hunt is the most fun! I just tried to tell my granddaughter McKinley that the other day as she was complaining about when will we get there… and it’s taking forever. So I went through the process of explaining how it’s the most fun in waiting to go somewhere and thinking about it… how once you’re there… well it’s over. She just gave me a look, and said: “When are we going to get there.” I looked over at hubby and just shook my head… one day she will understand, but at her age of five, well my words had just gone right over her head! Finally, we reached where she had wanted to go, and she was excited for a short time, and then it was over!

Back to the hunt….

Finally, after finding a few more books and constantly seeing the titles stare at me every day, they called to me… Read Me… No, Read Me! I finally chose to read one of my old remembered favorites – The Hidden Staircase. And just like the old days, once I began reading Nancy Drew… I couldn’t put her down. My favorite spot for reading as a young girl… was to drag out one of Grandmama McKinley’s quilts and stretch out under a shade tree. It then became just me and my book with an occasional peek at the clouds flowing by. Don’t you miss those days? I sure do, cloud watching could easily pass time on a summer afternoon. It’s a shame I didn’t know enough to truly enjoy those days more and not wish my life away so quickly… but that’s how we live… always wishing for something else!

While I don’t seem to have a lot of time to read today, as I’m always writing a blog post or researching one… or on the road going to flea markets… I have made time to read and finish The Hidden Staircase; it brought back so many memories. I find books hard to read today, even with my reading glasses… the font and colored pages are often too light colored for me so I just give up, but my Nancy books are great with the darker font. I just recently retired, but I’m still not finding free time… I’m a very busy girl!

If only I had, or my mama had, kept my Nancy Drew books… I would be such a happy camper, but like many others, they were given away. Hopefully, they survived in someone’s book collection. I wonder if I wrote my name on the inside cover like many I find today? I prefer to find them clean, but when I do find a name and date, it makes me wonder about the girl who wrote her name! Is she looking for hers?

I lived on Smoak Avenue in Perry, Georgia when I first began reading Nancy Drew. Mama tells me I kept them meticulously lined up on my bookshelf, not letting anyone touch them. So, Mama, I ask you, “why did you not save my books?” Oh well, that’s water over the dam or under the bridge!

When I mentioned to Mama about hunting for books, she said… “I loved to read Nancy Drew also as a young girl. We were poor so Daddy wasn’t going to buy me any but my friend June let me borrow hers. I read all she had and always returned them so I could borrow another. I wanted to be a detective just like Nancy and wished I could. Imagine if I hadn’t married your father, I could have been a woman’s detective following their cheating husbands. Now that’s something I would have really enjoyed!”

It was Mama who bought my first books, and they were all bought new in the 1960’s… who even knew or thought about buying used books at that time. I remember going to the new big box K-Mart in Macon for most of my books. My feet itched to leave Mama as soon as we stepped into the store… and quickly headed over to the book section to peruse all the new titles. They always had all the newest books and I could stand there for hours trying to figure out which “one” book was coming home with me. Mama never refused to buy me a book, and I never asked for more than one… but it’d take me forever to decide just which one it would be. But like I tried to explain to my granddaughter, it’s the excitement of the hunt, not the buy… and one day she will understand it, and maybe one day she will remember my words and tell me I was right – one day!

My collection is building… but I have a way to go! But it’s the hunt that is the most fun!

Going to the store with Mama and leaving with a bag in my hand was just the best thing, and as I was a reader… it was always a Nancy Drew book inside that bag. Nothing was better than sitting in the backseat on the ride home… and starting your new book. Some of my best-remembered book titles are Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, The Clue in the Diary, The Secret in the Old Attic, The Mystery of the 99 Steps. Let me hear what your favorites were… and do you still have your Nancy Drew’s… and give me your address!

While perusing an antique store I came across a small box with the artwork of Nancy Drew, The Mystery at Lilac Inn… it was a box of postcards showing the book covers on the front of each one. Well, I just had to have it… I wasn’t going to go home and sit there thinking… damn, why didn’t I buy that.

At present I’m reading The Secret of the Clock – Note the box with the same artwork! I just loved all the postcards depicting the art from the Nancy Drew books. And No… I’m not mailing you one! I thought of framing them somehow… but haven’t come up with just the right idea yet, but I will. If you have that perfect idea…. send my way!


Note the box with The Secret of the Old Clock pictured… the others are part of the postcards.

Just recently while heading out early to our favorite flea market “The Elephant’s Trunk” in New Milford, CT…. I spotted sign after sign in Newtown saying “Book Sale.”  I made a mental note that upon our return trip back, I was going to find that book sale! Entering Newtown later, we began following the signs, getting lost… as hubby and I disagreed on which way to go. Well, he was wrong, so he turned around a few more times to get back on track… and finally… we found the book sale!

I’m sure he wasn’t as happy about the sale as I was, but he offered to drop me off at the door while he searched for a parking spot, and I quickly took him up on his offer. It was super crowded!!! The sale was held at a local school, so while there was plenty of parking, all the spaces were taken. In order to park, you waited for someone basically to leave.

I walked into the school and was quite overwhelmed, almost all the rooms were full of boxes and boxes of books, but very well organized. In as much as I must have looked puzzled, a nice volunteer walked up to me and offered me a “map” of the layout of rooms and what they each offered. As I only was looking for one thing, Nancy Drew… she pointed out the children’s section to me and also the children’s vintage section. I began looking for the children’s section inside, but not before another volunteer assisted me again, but quickly disillusioned me by telling me she saw a lot of them leave yesterday. Bummer! I wasn’t giving up that easily though!!!

I  began looking, finding lots and lots of The Hardy Boys… guess no one is reading them so much, as I also have found lots and lots of them myself. I soon found a few Nancy Drew’s, along with a Honey Bunch, The Happy Hollisters and several Bobbsey Twins… they had also been my favorites. About that time, hubby arrived and offered to hold my books. What a great guy! I moved onto another table and there they were… an entire box full!!! While they weren’t the vintage ones I really want from my 60’s era, they were the Nancy Drew Flashlight series from the 80’s when they were re-introduced again. I had never seen the Flashlight ones until running across them recently and researched the name… but they are great for the new reader. I am becoming a little selfish now in letting go of my vintage ones after finding them so these flashlight books will be great for the girls to start with while I build a vintage collection for myself!

flashlight books

Note the “Yellow Flashlight” on the top yellow strip. I can only assume they were encouraging you to read them under the covers with a flashlight! Didn’t have to tell me that when mama turned my lights out!

Hollister books

It was The Happy Hollisters which pushed me to think of collecting my old vintage Nancy Drew books that I coveted as a young girl. The Hardy Boys were a bonus in the milk crate when I bought the Hollister series; I’m sure I’ll give them a read!

When hubby saw all the books I was buying, he was like “I’ll go find a box.” He came back to a big pile I had made… 23 to be exact! He graciously began stacking them neatly in the box and after a few more looks around, it was time to go. While most of them only had one or two dollars penciled in, they added up, but when you find them – you buy them! If you don’t, well you know what happens… all you say later is… “I should have just bought them.” There was going to be none of that later!!!

Later that night, I was once again… that young girl just returning from K-Mart with Mama, but I was now that girl sitting amongst a box of books! I wiped each one off and recorded their names so when I shop next time, I know what I have and don’t have. But I’m sure a couple extra’s won’t go to waste as I have 5 granddaughters. Does that mean I have to buy 5 of each title… Oh My! That will break the bank! If they are like me, they are not going to want their little sisters to read and steal their books. I can just hear… “mama she took my books, make her give them back, they’re mine!”

grouping Hollisters

While I never read The Happy Hollister book series, I recently found a milk crate full of the entire series, except for four, at a recent tag sale… and just couldn’t resist the price. She practically gave them to me! They all came complete with awesome dust jackets of great artwork; love the artwork on the older books. I haven’t planned on parting with them, as I want the dust jackets to survive. I can just picture all five of my granddaughters coming over and returning home to tell mama that GiGi won’t let them read her books! LOL… I’ll deal with that when the time comes!

I foresee a new hobby for me, at least until I find and complete my vintage book set and their flashlight books… and if I have to make 5 sets of Nancy Drew, well I’ll be busy for a long, long time!!!


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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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7 Responses to Nancy Drew: Nancy Has Created a Monster

  1. Michael says:

    Great hobby! I loved reading the Hardy Boys. Such a wonderfully nostalgic read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Evelyn Smith says:

    Wonderful tale of adventure. When you mentioned grabbing Aunt Ola’s quilt and sitting under the tree, I was expecting that to be followed by, “So, I grabbed Grandmama’s quilt and headed out” but it was a wonderful memory, wasn’t it?
    Sorry, I can’t relate adventures of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, as those weren’t among my books. I pretty much read what Mother had or what Mama Grace had, with the exception of my Dark Shadows books. When I could buy my own, I stayed the course. Classics. I still love reading and am trying to get back into it. That’s how I spent my lunch hours at work.
    I think I asked my sister if Mother had any and I don’t believe we found any. We did find Little House on the Prairie but I believe we donated those to the Library.
    Enjoy your adventure and I do hope the girls do get the opportunity to read your books. I know you will teach them how to respect and care for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. treeklimber says:

    What a fun idea to recollect your favorite books from your childhood! I too read every Nancy Drew book I could find. My sister and were fortunate because my mother gave us her collection to fuel our passion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tracy says:

    I’ve been collecting for years and have most of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and my original Bobbsey Twins plus ones I never had. I recently bought more Bobbsey Twins for the grands as I want to keep my set intact!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand wanting to keep yours! I began buying for the granddaughter as I didn’t keep mine… Boo Hoo! But then didn’t want to let go of my old remembered titles I bought. I am buying her the new flashlight series ones!


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