2018 A to Z: H… All About Nancy Drew

2018 A to Z: H… All About Nancy Drew

H glassIn 2016 I learned of the first annual April A to Z… it immediately intrigued me and I began racking my brain for a theme. After much reading, and thinking… I finally came up with the theme of Southern Foods and Memories… it said to write what you know! When April of 2017 rolled around, I decided to share Conversations with Mama to the world… the best of my on-going blog post that has generated from nightly talks to my mother. It’s now 2018 and as Nancy Drew has been on my mind… since I began re-building my collection back… well, I hope you will join me in celebrating All about Nancy Drew during the April – A to Z Blog Hop!


H is for… Happy Birthday Nancy, Home of Nancy Drew, Haunted Houses, and Holidays

Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Nancy turns 88 years young on April 28, 2018!


Photo from: http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com/

I often call my mother “Nancy Drew” as she shares the same month and year of when Nancy Drew’s first book was released… only separated by 22 days… and Mama always wanted to be a detective!

In the 1950’s, they magically aged our Nancy from the 16-year-old roadster driving sleuth to an 18-year-old that soon progressed as a young girl behind the wheels of a Mustang convertible… my kind of girl! My grandfather bought me my first car when I turned 16… a yellow Mustang… oh how I wished it had been a convertible!

In the 1930’s and into the 1940’s, many girls graduated from high school at age 16, but once the driving age in several states changed, girls began graduating at a later age; the Syndicate thought it best to slightly advance Nancy’s age to age 18 to better fit in the stories. They didn’t want to no longer portray a young girl of only 16 galavanting all over the countryside in a roadster… as she should have been in school!

I have to say Nancy has aged very well and doesn’t look a day over 18! Maybe she found the fountain of youth on one of her sleuthing cases… she really should be sharing it or at least go on Shark Tank and make a deal! Which “shark” should she pair up with?

If you could buy Nancy a birthday gift… what would it be? And what time frame would the gift be bought in? I guess the time frame I’d buy my gift would be in the 60’s when I was reading her books, so I’d probably buy her a new album… think she’d like Herman Hermits or maybe the Beatles since she’s been to England!

Her father bought the best birthday presents… buying her a maroon roadster for her birthday in Book 1. What a father Carson Drew was… in the books I’ve read so far, he has given her a couple of roadsters and a convertible for her birthdays.

Home of Nancy Drew


While this is the “Drew” home added to the Nancy Drew game board… it doesn’t look like what’s pictured or descriptions given in the books. Personally, I think they could have done a better job in showing the picture of the house here…. but they did add a blue convertible parked in the driveway!

From all I’ve read, I’ve concluded that Nancy Drew lived in a Brick Colonial, standing a ways back from the hustle and bustle of street traffic noise. The wide front lawn is filled with favorite shrubs and flowers with a winding walk to the house… I’m sure many of her favorite rose bushes line the walkway unless they’ve been dug up again! That was funny to read in The Clue in The Crumbling Wall, and it certainly made Nancy determined more than ever to discover who dug up her rosebushes! That reminds me of a story about my mother’s garden. She came out one morning to discover holes in her gardens… someone in the middle of the night had dug up several of her Cosmos flowers. It aggravated her so much that she actually called the police… and yes they came! I would have loved to have heard that conversation! A couple of years later, while at the senior center, some woman was talking about how her grandchildren had planted, what they’d thought was marijuana, in her garden. She made them pull it all up and they told her they’d stole them out of a woman’s garden down the street. Well… my mother had a few words to say! When Cosmos plants begin to sprout its leaves, it actually looks like marijuana. At least, mama finally found out who dug up her garden!

Drew Home

The “Drew” home sits nearby the famous Muskoka River in River Heights

Another description of Nancy’s home is listed as a large spacious dwelling, standing somewhat back a distance… sitting on an attractive street filled with old sycamore trees. While the photos I’ve seen only show it as a two-story home, in one book it’s listed as having three floors… with Nancy’s bedroom on the second floor. When Nancy brings the ballet dancers home, they wrote that the girl slept on her floor while her brother is shown to a room on the third floor… unless they put him in the attic! Poor Hannah… taking care of three floors! (Bk 32). I’ve yet to discover if they ever gave an address for the Drew home… I imagine she probably possibly lived on River Drive or Larkspur Lane!

In The Whispering Statue (Bk 14), it’s written that she has a border of Larkspur (Delphinium) running through her gardens.  Nancy won 1st prize for those tall blue plumes when she entered her cut vase of them in The Password to Larkspur Lane (Bk 10). I just might buy myself Larkspur this spring and plant in my garden!

Haunted Houses:

Many of my favorite Nancy Drew stories took places in houses… mostly haunted and ghost filled houses; always a favorite of mine! I’ll write on a few of my favorites.

The Hidden Staircase: A haunted colonial house known as Twin Elms… acquiring its name for the two elm trees standing at opposite ends of the house. This mansion of red brick and nearly covered in ivy with a ten-foot porch and tall pillars at the front door was built in 1785.  A high stone wall surrounds the front of the estate, with a driveway that twists and winds between the many elms, oaks, and maples. It belonged to Helen Corning’s great aunt Mrs. Rosemary Hayes and Miss Flora, Helen’s great-grandmother. It’s a house filled with untraceable music, thumps and creaking noises at night, eerie shadows on the walls, and thefts of several pieces of jewelry; a haunted house that frightened Miss Rosemary and Miss Flora! Oh My… a house I’d love to visit. Mama often talks about her grandfather’s house… a house that often had unexplained noises in the night… a house I wrote about in Siloam Hauntings on the McKinley farm.

The Secret in The Old Attic: An estate known as Pleasant Hedges, a badly weather-beaten mansion… so named for it’s covered with untrimmed hedges, entangled weeds and stray bushes; long grasses and weeds cover the lawn. It’s a rambling structure, built of mostly clapboard with a grey stone section on one end… partly covered with vines. I’ve seen many such homes as this when traveling on back country roads… homes that call out to me… to stop and take their photograph before they’ve fallen in! And I always comply… taking such photographs to preserve history before it’s gone is a passion of mine.

The Clue in The Crumbling Wall: Heath Castle is a massive graystone castle covered with ivy. It’s a perfect copy of an old English castle… built around a hollow square with a tangled garden of growth. Who wouldn’t want to explore this?

The Ghost of Blackwood Hall: This mansion is located just a few miles from River Heights. A haunted three-story mansion with high weeds… grass choking off all paths that once led to its doors … a haunted mansion with a ghost who plays the organ, supposedly the ghost of Jonathan Humprey… and what ghost riddled mansion wouldn’t have a secret tunnel? Oh My… if I lived near this as a young girl, I know I would have explored every inch of this mansion… searching for that organ playing ghost!

The Crooked Banister: Not necessarily a haunted house… but certainly a strange sounding one, so-called the Zig Zag house, home of Rawley Banister. He designed the house himself, sitting high on a wooded hilltop, surrounded by a moat and sometimes the water turned to fire! I might not have been as interested in this house, but the moat water turning to fire would certainly have intrigued me!

The Hidden Window Mystery: A home filled with a mystery to solve! Seven Oaks, a white two-story, clapboard colonial house with Doric columns on the small porch… and directly above stood a balcony. An iron gateway opened to lead you on a tree-lined driveway with flower gardens outlining both sides. But you’ll have to read in order to discover what exactly was the “hidden window” mystery! It sounds like it would make an awesome Bed and Breakfast…. wouldn’t you enjoy staying there?

My favorite house is a Greek Revival two-story near my mother’s small hometown in Georgia… it truly would have fitted into one of Nancy Drew’s mystery stories. It’s a house that has drawn me to stop and photograph on every visit; and every time my mother asks, “why do you feel the need to visit this house every year?” I have no real answer other than, it calls to me to stop! It’s a house that has told me a story… a story that I wrote for a NaNoWriMo November writing challenge a few years ago. I story that I need to stop… and take the time to tell its story! If you’d like to see its photo… do stop in HERE!


After re-reading a few books and planning my A to Z posts, I wondered… “why were no holidays ever mentioned throughout the books?” In joining a Facebook group on collecting Nancy Drew and children series books… I’ve learned a lot… and I love being in the group as everyone is so knowledgeable. I ‘ve enjoyed learning more history than I ever knew on Nancy Drew… mostly because I was too young to have even thought of her history when I was reading in the 1960’s. I was just a young girl… who only wanted to read the next Nancy Drew mystery book!

New Nancy Drew books were often released in January, and between then and May they re-introduced several of the beginning books once again for the new readers. New Year’s Eve would have been an interesting event to read of in the books, but the Stratemeyer Syndicate felt it was better to keep holidays, for the most part, out of the books. Maybe if they released more books during the year, the holidays could have played a part, but you’ll only find a glimpse of a mention, here and there… and very far in between. By the mention of what they are wearing, I often imagine what season the book is set in, and as Nancy often swims at different lakes, it seems to always be a long summer in most books. Haven’t you noticed how often she’s mentioned as taking a dip?

A few Christmas holiday mentions (Thanks to James D. Keeline)

Nancy’s Mysterious Letter: Bk8 (RT) Mr. Whittier handed Nancy the necklace. “Come in again soon,” he invited her. “I’ll have all my Christmas things on display next week.” His suggestion gave Nancy an idea. Recalling a remark her father had made, she said, “Mr. Whittier, in a magazine advertisement I saw a special kind of cufflinks I know my dad would like. They were large gold squares and had diagonal stripes of black across them. I’d like a set to give Dad for Christmas.”

The Ringmasters Secret: Bk 31 (RT) Miss Drew laughed. “I asked a photographer at the circus to take it when I was there,” she said. “It came out very well, don’t you think?” When Nancy asked for a copy of the photograph, her aunt said she was saving it as a surprise for Mr. Drew’s Christmas present.

The Scarlet Slipper Mystery: Bk 32 (RT) When the Drews said good night much later, both were pleased with the progress on the portrait, which Mr. Drew declared was to be his Christmas present.

The Secret of the Golden Pavilion: Bk 36 (RT) She hurried upstairs and from one of her suitcases took the magnifying glass which her father had given her for Christmas. It was a very fine one and Nancy called it her “Pride and Joy.”

The Clue of the Dancing Puppet: Bk 39 (RT) Nancy explained that Ralph Van Pelt had been an inventor, who had come to the United States from Holland. He had never married but had lived with a brother on the estate, which was then a farm. Every year, as Christmas gifts, he carved toys for his grandnieces and grandnephews.

The Moonstone Castle Mystery: BK 40 (RT) The man and woman looked at each other, then smiled. Finally, the woman said, “I remember something about a child’s gift very well. The most beautiful doll and carriage we have ever sold were ordered over the telephone at Christmas time and delivered to the Horton home.”

The Spider Sapphire Mystery: Bk 45 (RT) “Oh my goodness!” said George. “I couldn’t wear all these clothes in a week!” “This is like Christmas,” Bess added. She had spotted a frilly white dress and said, “Nancy and George, do you mind if I take this one?”

The Secret of the Forgotten City: BK 52 (RT) At first nobody answered, but finally George grinned and said: Please, Santa, look in my empty sock. The Christmas tree won’t sigh. The girls were speaking in code to each other so no one could follow their clues.

The Thirteenth Pearl: Bk 56 (RT) Mrs.Rossmeyer was heavily covered with jewelry from head to toe. Nancy was amazed that she wore no necklace, however. Her white satin dress was covered with gems that sparkled in the artificial light. Even its standing collar and long sleeves were embroidered with numerous pearls, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. “She’s decked out like a Christmas tree,” Ned whispered to Nancy.

During the war years of WWII, neither Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boy series were written in driving scenes. We just seemed to imagine them going from scene to scene with no written words of how they seemed to have arrived there… and no one probably ever questioned it. I’m sure they felt, that in as much as to how the reader’s families were rationing food and gas for the war effort… that they shouldn’t be rubbing it in their noses and have Nancy driving all over the countryside in her roadster! Great planning on their part!

Sacrifice and rationing for the war was a big drive during WWII, and my grandparents had such food and gas ration books. Granddaddy must have done his part to conserve buying gas as the books I have… have very few ration stamps removed. He was a simple country farmer, using no tractor … basically working his farm, sun-up to sun-down, and rarely went anywhere. Saturday afternoons were the big thing when they went to town… he mostly engaged in heated politics or fox-hunting stories with his cronies while grandmama shopped and bartered with her eggs and cream for food items she needed… that they didn’t grow! And my mother, well she visited her friend in town who let her borrow a new Nancy Drew book. That made mama’s day… and she couldn’t wait to go to bed that night and curl up with Nancy… often finishing it in one night!

To live in River Heights, would be like living in Mayberry… except they seemed to have quite more than their share of criminals, unlike Mayberry. Maybe they needed Sheriff Andy to help Nancy catch all those villains. To follow along with Nancy, you were wrapped up in a different world… she took you away from everyday life and many young girls lived through her. Did she encourage young girls in wanting to be a detective back in the 1940’s… along with my mother; that’s one of the first things she told me when I mentioned Nancy Drew… how she and her girlfriend wanted to chase down criminals… just like Nancy!

As I haven’t completed my re-reading of all the vintage Nancy Drew books, I’ve only found one mention of Christmas so far and that was in Nancy’s Mysterious Letter. Nancy went to a local store in town as the clasp on her pearl necklace was broken; while in the store, she buys her father a Christmas gift, but never telling tell us what she actually bought! Naturally, though, Nancy never seems to go anywhere without finding a clue… and the current villain she is sleuthing left a clue for her there, without even realizing. The criminal had purchased for himself a “flashy” pair of cufflinks! Doesn’t all villains buy flashy jewelry!

clue crew thanksgviningWhile I haven’t found a mention of Thanksgiving yet, it seems the later Nancy Drew books do seem to mention holidays. In “Thanksgiving Thief” (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series), wild turkeys are running loose in River Heights and the Clue Crew are on the hunt to round them up before they ruin the Thanksgiving Feast. We see quite a few turkeys in my area, but we always laugh, as when Thanksgiving nears… we never see any! Do turkeys have an intuition about the holiday… and stay out of sight?

After discovering these books written of a younger Nancy (age 8), I’ve begun buying them for my granddaughters. They will make a great introduction to reading the classic Nancy Drew books. I see they have somewhat kept the hair colors the same for the most part, although Nancy in the classic books started off as a blonde and slowly went to the golden-titan haired girl, while in the Clue Crew books, they have eight-year-old Nancy listed as a red-haired girl and often in pigtails; Bess and George have kept their same hair coloring.


Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys on the 2003 Presidential Tree

First Lady, Barbara Bush, chose the theme of “family literacy” for the Blue room tree in 1989. Besides decorating with ornaments passed down through the Bush family, she employed the Executive Residence staff to create 80 soft-sculpture characters which were displayed on mantels and tables throughout. (So it seems Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys are a “new” somewhat paper-mache ornament created as a “one of a kind.”) I think we need a new Nancy Drew Christmas ornament. Are you listening Hallmark?

collectibles 3

My Nancy Drew ornament!

Carlton Heirloom Ornament Collection celebrated Nancy Drew’s 75th anniversary (2005) with a special ornament of a replica of the first edition… The Secret of the Old Clock. The 1930 original book had the best cover, and Carlton certainly honored it well in having our sleuth step right off the cover… as if coming to life, just like she does in our imaginations whenever we follow her along in solving mysteries.

In 2003 the Presidential tree theme was “A Season of Stories,” which featured readings of children’s tales. Laura Bush had the tree decorated, once again, with ornaments first used by the president’s mother, Barbara Bush on the 1989 official White House Christmas tree; Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys were once again featured on the Presidential tree; they were now on loan from the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. I contacted the Presidential Library to see if they are on display there… sadly they never answered my email!

The official White House Christmas tree of 2003 was a Fraser fir that stood eighteen feet tall… the chandelier in the Blue Room had to be removed to make room. The tree was presented by Jim and Diane Chapman of Silent Night Evergreens in Wisconsin.
Several books were scattered under the tree… there must have been a few Nancy Drew books under that tree! If I could only see!

While Nancy Drew didn’t celebrate Christmas on the pages of the vintage books, she finally made it to the White House!

I would have enjoyed a read of Nancy visiting Aunt Eloise at Christmas and seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center with all its glory… and ice skating with Ned below under the dazzling lights. And anytime you’re in the city at Christmas, the Macy windows are a must to see… and often with long waiting lines. They could have even taken one of those double-decker bus tours to enjoy the city lights. Hubby and I did that a couple of years ago as a day trip; it actually was very interesting, as we saw more than we could have ever seen in walking the streets of NYC. And just maybe, Aunt Eloise might have surprised Nancy with front row seats for the Radio City Christmas Show… which is a must if you’re in New York at Christmas… they have the best Santa ever!

magnificator ThanksForReading

Want to read more, click below…. 

2018: A to Z – All About Nancy Drew 

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2018: A to Z - All About Nancy Drew, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to 2018 A to Z: H… All About Nancy Drew

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    You have so much information here! Love the ornament! Have to try to find one of those.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wendy says:

    Funny about the cosmos! I’ll have to pay more attention to them from now on – I’ve never noticed the resemblance.
    Love the idea of Nancy Drew ornaments!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kristin says:

    The house in the Nancy Drew game looks more like an old farm house than a posh lawyers home. There even seems to be an overstuffed blue chair on the porch. I didn’t realize that Nancy was so old!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. James Keeline says:

    Christmas, particularly in selecting gifts, is mentioned in:

    ND 08 RT
    ND 31 OT
    ND 32 RT
    ND 36
    ND 39
    ND 40
    ND 52

    There are a couple other “Christmas” references but they are statement of exclamation like “This is like Christmas” (ND 45) or “It’s decked out like a Christmas tree” (ND 56).

    Probably other holidays are mentioned here and there along with events like birthdays. They tried not to be too specific about dates and timing in most stories. There is also the issue for readers whose families might not celebrate Christmas.

    What you don’t see is a family Christmas gathering with a meal and gift exchange. This DOES happen in the Hardy Boys, particularly in The Mystery of Cabin Island (1928) and in the revised text to a lesser degree.

    In Tom Swift and His Atomic Earth Blaster (1954), the expedition spends about six months in Antarctica and a Christmas celebration is described.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. James Keeline says:

    Edward Stratemeyer was a prolific writer in several fields. In addition to 168 books that he personally wrote, he also wrote serials for periodicals called story papers, dime novels and nickel library stories, and short stories for newspapers. He wrote more than two dozen of these for the Newark Sunday Call newspaper in the 1890s. The publication date and theme were usually connected with holidays around the year as celebrated back then. I’ve collected more than a dozen of these into a book with a title that Edward proposed to publishers but could not get published — Holiday Stories for Boys, volume 1. It is available on Lulu under our 24 Palmer Street Press imprint.

    Liked by 1 person

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