2018 A to Z: N… All About Nancy Drew
In 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!
N is for Nancy Drew and Nancy’s Rules
Like many fictional characters, Nancy Drew was the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer… he wrote the first three manuscripts in the series before hiring a ghostwriter to mold Nancy into the sleuthing detective we all love! Even today, it’s still Carolyn Keene’s name on the covers of the Nancy Drew Mysteries… and we have Harriet S. Adams, Edwards daughter, to thank for her longevity on the bookstands!
My coloring art for granddaughter Ella!
The first Nancy Drew books were written in 1930 and showed young girls that they didn’t need to rely on a man for protection; that was huge for the times! Nancy could do everything… she was a strong female! If she had a flat tire, she changed it herself, no need to call AAA… if she needed to cross a lake, she drove the motorboat, no need to look for someone to take her… and she was never afraid to venture out at night alone, even late at night in an open roadster. As a young girl, I never liked driving alone at night and remember running from the car to the front door… with key in hand… late at night!
Nancy also scuba dives proficiently, as we found out in The Mystery at Lilac Inn, and naturally, an expert swimmer… as well as an accomplished ballet dancer, speaks fluent French, plays piano and even showed off her bagpipe playing skills when she traveled to Scotland. I’ve also found a mention of Nancy knitting in a couple of books, while en route to Phoenix to join up with Bess and George at Bess’s uncle’s ranch; she had pulled out her knitting bag to work on a sweater for her father (RT), for his birthday… who taught Nancy to knit? Nancy almost lost her knitting bag as… somehow it was moved underneath another table! In the OT, it was said she was knitting the sweater for Ned… what a laugh, as she hadn’t even met him yet… do we say “big” blooper there!
Did she ever have time to just be Nancy as a young girl… playing hopscotch, reading, riding a bike or just playing with dolls? What would Nancy Drew have read?
Instead of always saying… “what would Nancy Drew Do?”… we should instead say, “What Can’t Nancy Drew Do?”
Even though Nancy was a fictional, amateur detective, she definitely wasn’t a regular teenager! Nancy Drew somehow always managed to become entangled in a mystery that miraculous needs solving. She either became involved by her father asking for help on a case, or a friend coming to her, and she’s even been known to help total strangers… and being the kind person our Nancy is… she always offers help, and we all know our Nancy never refuses an orphan or a widow!
In the original 1930 books, Nancy is a sixteen-year-old high school graduate… in the revisions, she becomes an eighteen-year-old high school graduate. I’d say Nancy has aged very well… aging only two years in just over fifty years; if changing her age wasn’t enough, they also changed the age she was when her mother died. In the early (OT) books, Nancy was just ten years old, but they later changed it to three years old. As they seldom discuss the mother, and Nancy hardly ever mentioning her, what was the point of even making that change?
Nancy is first featured as a blonde, but through the later books, Nancy is often referred to as a titan haired, reddish blonde and even a strawberry blonde. Although our Nancy doesn’t seem like the type of teenager to experiment with hair colors, well the ghostwriters decided to, either by accident… or intentional! It was Stratemeyer who made Nancy a blonde… was she written as such from the old saying of “blondes have more fun.” Or possibly, because most of the other children series books written on teenage girls, were written as brunettes; Stratemeyer decided to give Nancy a different look… as a blond-haired, blue-eyed teenager… a girl who would stand out!
What a Girl!!!
while most say that Nancy was molded into the character we know by Mildred Wurst Benson, it was Stratemeyer who gave her, her first breath, and however, Mildred wrote her character… it worked! The Nancy Drew Mysteries flew off the shelves in 1930… even outselling the boy series books. That must have dealt a blow to the boys around the world, but I’m thinking… secretly… they were reading also! Today they are reading Nancy Drew… and they don’t mind telling you!
Even though Nancy appeared on the scene at the end of the depression era, it never seemed to affect her lifestyle between those covers. Nancy’s way of life seemed to offer young girls a glimpse into a life that most would never know. She was a strong young woman at age (16) eighteen… wise beyond her years and very well known as a young amateur detective. While Nancy was considered as living in the upper middle class in her day, she was never looked at as a snob… instead, known to all as a giving young woman.
It’s Nancy’s “keen wit” and her tendency to rely on inner hunches in solving cases that lure us all in!
Nancy always had a car… a spiffy maroon roadster in 1930, a birthday gift from her father… roadsters of yellow and blue were later mentioned until the name changed to a convertible. I guess Nancy was always partial to convertibles and I believe they were all standards as I read she had no problem in maneuvering gears as she drove. Maybe she loved the breeze blowing through her titan-blonde curls?
Nancy’s “keen wit” and her tendency in relying on her inner “hunches” is what helped her solve cases… and what we love most about her!
Being a girl in the 1930’s, Nancy was dressed in the style of the day in fashionably tweed suits, pumps, carrying a handbag or purse, wearing the in-style cloche hat with the flapper-style dress… and always fully accessorized! Nancy hardly ever donned a pair of jeans. While wearing those type of clothes, she was most often found climbing over boxes in the back of a truck, walking down hidden staircases in pumps… battling cobwebs, thrown in musty closets and even down old wells. How she chased villains and ghosts in heels and climbed ladders, is beside me! Just the thought of battling cobwebs… even wearing jeans would make me squirm under those conditions, and I definitely can’t walk in heels!
In Nancy’s Mysterious Letter (Bk 8 pg. 81), it’s mentioned that Nancy was a good driver, shifting and braking almost automatically; that tells me that she most likely drove a stick shift! Nancy seems to be proficient enough in the ability to put her car in reverse and get out of any jam!
In listening to my mother tell me about reading Nancy Drew in the 40’s… the books gave females a look at what a girl could do in life… she could be daring in the thick of things, she could do things that once men only did… she could be a strong female! I remember being told, “only the men and boys can go down there” when I asked to go where my grandfather was cooking over the BBQ pit; I grew up in the fifties and sixties, a time when girls and women didn’t always go where boys and men went. It always looked like such fun to me as they all sat around on logs and cooked BBQ until the wee hours… men smoking cigars and telling tales; my cousin Robert had been allowed to be with them… listening to their stories… because he was a boy!
In The Mystery of the Ivory Charm… If I’d been Nancy and a snake fell on me from the tree limb above… and began to squeeze the life from me… well I wouldn’t have been as gracious as she was! I definitely would not have blown it off!
Nancy Drew was/is a timeless classic… a sleuth who keeps solving mysteries… time after time for every generation. My mother read Nancy Drew, I read Nancy Drew, my daughter… well, she read “one” Nancy Drew and now my granddaughter Ella is reading Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew… and hopefully soon will be followed by McKinley, Ana, Nina, and Grace. I’ll have my own Nancy Drew club! Oh, My… all the books I will need to buy! At present, Ella has a complete 56 collection… and hopefully soon will be reading them! I’m happy to take donations for the rest of my crew!
Nancy was born, technically, on April 28, 1930, when she made her debut on bookshelves in The Mystery of the Old Clock, at the age of sixteen. Nancy’s name almost became Nan Drew… but it just didn’t seem to ‘ring’ that well, so it was transformed into Nancy for a better flow with Drew. For over twenty-plus years, Nancy remained ageless at age sixteen… until they grew-her-up to the classic age of eighteen… of which she remained until the end of the Nancy Drew Mysteries.
Nancy Drew lives with her father, attorney Carson Drew, and motherly housekeeper Hannah Gruen in the small fictional town of River Heights on an un-named street. When Nancy was ten, she lost her mother in a car accident in Scotland… I don’t think I’ve ever read yet, as to why she was there! Another question I’ve wondered is… we never seem to read that Nancy mourns her mother, sharing any memories or feeling sad on the date of her death.
Possibly having no mother in the house allowed Nancy more freedom in the end! I was an only child and my mother always told me… “girls aren’t allowed there, or you can’t go there, or you can’t do that”... but my father was more lenient… not hesitate to let me go places and do things.
As a teenager, Nancy seemed to find herself more caught up in, or stumbling into a mystery to solve, instead of the typical teenage girl who’d rather shop and date. Often, it was Nancy’s father who involved her in many of his cases, and she was always eager to help… funny thing is, she never received any payment!
Nancy was never paid for her detective work and always mentioned as… only an amateur detective… was that why… no pay? You’d think after solving over 500 mysteries since 1930… that she’d finally be a paid detective!
Nancy is often gifted items after solving a mystery and I’ve listed those gifts in A to Z: G… All About Nancy Drew. Somehow, money never seems to be a problem for Nancy, as when her convertible was almost destroyed in The Mystery of the Diary… she never worried about how she’d pay; what sixteen-year-old girl wouldn’t worry about how she would pay for repairs? The auto repair shop wasn’t even worried either, as they offered to drop the car at her house… not waiting for a check, or asking who would pay the bill. I’m sure the Drew’s had quite a town-wide reputation so no one ever worried about a bill being paid. It must have been the regular body shop she used…. and used often, from reading all the bang-ups she’s been involved in.
Finally… in the 1990 Nancy Drew mysteries… Nancy goes to college and even has a cell phone; our Nancy has graduated in the technology world! I have yet to read one of these later stories so it will be interesting to see how Nancy has changed! But my heart will always be with the “yellow spines” I grew up with!
Nancy continues to live on and on…
Nov. 11, 1977, The Monroe News Star… Monroe, Louisiana (I would have enjoyed seeing this on the Mini Kids page… wonder if it only appeared in this paper, or did it appear in all the newspapers on the same day?
Nancy Drew Mystery Game – 1957… I was too young to have even known about this… Darn! Photo thanks to James D. Keeline, from newspapers.com
1957 Sears Wish Book… I would have “drooled” over all those books!
Nancy Drew Sears (1964) Ad from the collection of James D. Keeline… Imagine a starter set for only $2.48… Oh, I’d be buying them all!
The 1992 Sears “Wish Book” featuring a boxed set of Nancy Drew for $14.99! Found Here.
What’s your sentence? Mine is “Had a picnic with Frank Hardy because I was threatened.” I’d be happy to go on a picnic with Parker Stevenson! Wonder what or who threatened me? LOL Photo from HerInteractive.
Love this Nancy Drew starter set showing the siloutte of Nancy!
I found the newest Nancy Drew collection at Costco (2017) last Christmas! Yes, it came home with me!
On the very first page, Nancy is asked if you can really become a good cook? “It’s no mystery,” Nancy Drew reveals, “You must do what fine cooks have always done – add your own special touch.”
A teaser of recipes!
A few of my Nancy’s I’ve collected!
Nancy’s 3 Rules:
Nancy lives her life by “rules”… rules that most 16 to 18-year-olds never even imagined or thought to do!
1: Nancy is always prepared: prepared whenever and wherever she goes with an overnight bag packed… in either the trunk of her roadster or convertible. What 18-year-old packs an overnight bag… except for other motives!
- extra clothes for overnight stays, and always one or two bathing suits tucked inside. Nancy frequently ends up near a lake!
- a flashlight with extra batteries… there’s even often a second flashlight in that overnight bag or her purse.
- rope – you never know when you’ll need to tie up a villain!
- knife – although Nancy’s never attacked or injured anyone, she’s often used it.
- notebook and pen – for writing down clues. I must be part Nancy Drew as I always have paper and pen in my purse or my traveling bag. Ideas always come to me, and I need to write them down!
- purse – to hold all that’s needed… lipstick in case needed to write an SOS message on a window; hairpin and paper clip to pick a lock or help in car repairs; a magnifying glass to look for clues; face powder is more than just to powder your face… it can easily lift a fingerprint. If only our Nancy had had a smartphone in her purse!
- compass – after all if you’re lost in the woods, you’ll need to know how to find your way out. If she had a newer car like today, she’d have built-in GPS!
- snake bite kit – Nancy has encountered a few snake bites that she’s needed this for! It’s one of those things that you’ll probably never use, but better to have… than have not!
2: Nancy is always cool and collective:
- lock Nancy in a room and she’ll find a way out… even if she has to remove the door hinges to escape!
- throw her down a cistern with broken ladder pieces… and she’ll use those pieces to climb out! (I laughed out loud at that one)
- tie her to a chair with heels on… and she’ll tap her way out using Morse Code!
- a large boa constrictor snake falls on her from a tree and she remains cool while it’s removed! Who else but Nancy Drew could,,, or even would remain cool under those circumstances!
- a stampede of elephants led by old Tom doesn’t scare her as she’s almost trampled, and in the last minute jump, she jumps in front to save a child in their path.
- she escapes from cave-ins and almost drownings…. never blinking an eye.
- if her brakes aren’t working, she’s calm while pumping the brake pedal to help her stop!
3: Nancy dresses for success:
- Nancy chases villains dressed in heels/pumps… who else but Nancy would do this?
- Nancy fears no one… even ghosts and the unknown!
- Nancy crawls through dark tunnels and cobwebbed attics and even walks through scary woods with only her trusty flashlight in searching for clues.
- Nancy dresses in matching jackets and colored accessories… seldom wears jeans or trousers/pants.
Is there anything that Nancy can’t do? Well if there is, I haven’t discovered it yet! Do Let Me Know!
Want to read more, click…. 2018: A to Z – All About Nancy Drew
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