2018 A to Z: W… All About Nancy Drew

2018 A to Z: W… All About Nancy Drew

W glassIn 2016 I first learned of the 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 A to Z theme of Southern Foods and Memories; it said to write what you know! When April of 2017 rolled around, I decided to share A to Z 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!


W is for… Warnings, Where is River Heights, Writings, War, and Why do I Collect Nancy Drew?


The Clue of the Velvet Mask: pg. 44 – phone call: “Nancy Drew, keep out of affairs that aren’t your own. If you don’t, be prepared for the consequences!”

The Clue of the Black Keys: pg. 62 – a note to Nancy: “No more interference or there will be trouble for you!”

The Ringmaster’s Secret: pg. 5 – verbal: “If you know what’s good for you, Miss Drew, you’ll stay away from circus riding.”

The Secret of the Wooden Lady: pg. 18 – telephone call: “Tell your father to stay away from Easterly’s ship. Do you hear?”

The Clue of the Leaning Chimney: pg. 4 – told to her face: “If you don’t get going, you’ll get hurt.”

The Ghosts of Blackwood Hall: pg. 75 – note left in the tree: “If you are a believer, may the wrath of all the Humphrey’s descend upon you.”

The Mystery of The Tolling Bell: pg. 44 – phone call: “Stop her. Don’t let her go.”

The Secret in the Old Attic: pg. 125 – letter: “Further accusations will lead to a libel suit.”

The Brass Bound Trunk: pg. 27 – on the phone: “Don’t sail on the Patrician next week if you know what’s wise! That’s all, but remember!”

The Whispering Statue: pg. 4 – on the phone: “You tell Mrs. Merriam to shut up or she’ll get hurt and you people too.”

Password to Larkspur Lane: pg. 21 – in person: “Tell Carson Drew to mind his own business or he’s in for a bad shock.

The Secret of Red Gate Farm: pg. 43 – phone call: “Listen, Miss, tell that snoopy friend of yours to stop her snooping, or she’ll be sorry.”

The Secret of Shadow Ranch: Nancy finds a note on the seat of the ranch wagon… written in crudely penciled letters… it said, “Keep away from Shadow Ranch.” If they knew Nancy, they’d have known that such note only intrigued her to go there even more!

Where is River Heights:


The Drew Home

If River Heights wasn’t a fictional place… it would so be on my list of places to visit! Who wouldn’t love to drive by Nancy Drew’s home on Oakwood Avenue… hoping to see her blue roadster parked in the driveway! (now to remember where I found this reference of Oakwood Avenue?)

Reading Nancy Drew books are a cool way to roam the country and even travel abroad… and all from the comfort of your couch! All the quaint resorts and inns that Nancy visits often reminds me of how I’ve heard the Pocono resorts were during those times.

The town of River Heights was the most populated in the 1960’s and 1970’s… that was at the time when many of the Nancy Drew books were being revised… maybe those books sparked an interest in the newer generations to the continuing read of Nancy Drew and wishing to visit River Heights… back to simpler times.

So where do you think River Heights was… other than somewhere in your mind… I’d love to hear your comments!


Table from All Around River Heights blog. Do take the time to check out this blog, as whoever wrote this did an awesome amount of research.

River Heights has been suggested, rumored to be somewhere midwest, possibly in either Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, or Illinois… but also New Jersey is later suggested when Harriet Adams began writing. As the first writer, Mildred W. Benson lived in Iowa, many considered she wrote her area for the setting to be River Heights… knowing it best.

I’ve often thought, or wondered… did Mildred leave us clues in her writing as to where River Heights really was… maybe like an “Easter Egg.” Ok sleuths… get busy! They always tell you, write what you know… and maybe she did!

In searching for a Muskoka River, I found that there really is a river by that name in the Muskoka District of Ontario, Canada. In as often as Nancy wore that bathing suit she kept tucked in her “to go” bag… I don’t think River Heights was located in Canada, but somehow I feel Mildred might have visited this area and something about it remained in her mind.

In as much as Nancy visited her aunt in NYC, was she living close by, like maybe in Ohio? There is a University Heights in Iowa, was that a clue… in Illinois, there is an Arlington Heights, Riverside, Riverdale, Riverwoods… so many to ponder on.

In The Clue of the Broken Locket, Nancy drove to Maryland… leaving early afternoon and stopping by late afternoon for dinner… when she was about halfway to her destination of Misty Lake. Nancy’s father said they would drive down and arrive about dusk… so how far away was she? Was early afternoon 1 or 2… was late afternoon around 4 if she arrived at dusk… well depending on the time of year, dusk could be between 7 to 8 in the Northeast. So if she had driven around 7 hours, and arrived in New Jersey… well that definitely meant she didn’t live in New Jersey, as she would have arrived much sooner; we might assume she lives in the midwest… but I feel Iowa was too far away for that drive, so possibly Ohio, and I definitely feel it’s a long stretch in saying Indiana or Illinois. I’m going in circles here!!! In the newer Nancy Drew paperbacks, they finally said that Nancy lived in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois… wonder why they finally pinpointed it!

When I read how Bess served cookies and bottles of soda… that made me feel that River Heights was definitely not in the South. As a girl born in the South, we don’t offer you a soda, but we will offer you a Coke! My first job was as a waitress… and my first table was a group of boys from Ohio who ordered “pop.” I had no clue what that even was, so I just told them we were all out. They had a good laugh at me after I finally realized they only wanted a Coke… wouldn’t it have been a lot easier if they had just told me that they wanted a Coke in the first place! That seems to throw out my theory that River Heights might be in Ohio… they never offered “pop” in the book… but we do we say soda in New England.

While I haven’t found very many real city names mentioned in my readings so far … maybe the Syndicate had a rule that they didn’t want to list “real” city names? Whenever Nancy goes to NYC, did they mention Manhatten, or do they mostly just say NYC… I’ll need to recheck that. In The Hidden Staircase, they did write the city of Chicago in.

river heights

In The Clue of The Leaning Chimney, the story mentioned a white china clay, or “Kaolin.” While deposits of this clay are found in several states, ironically… it is the state rock of Iowa! Is that the clue to Nancy’s home state? Was that the “Easter Egg” Mildred secretly wrote in? Maybe if I look close enough I can find a clay quarry on here!


After all my research and writing of this A to Z, I feel compelled to write my own Nancy Drew novella! Maybe I’ll have Nancy Drew help my character, Rebecca, solve her mystery in Behind the Wall… a novel I’ve worked on for years. What a twist that would make to my story!

Why did I choose Nancy Drew for my A to Z? Nancy Drew came back into my life as I began buying books for my granddaughter… I fell in love with Nancy again… retreating back to my childhood. Reading Nancy Drew is much more fun than listening to the world news in today’s world.

Too bad our Nancy Drew never kept a journal through-out her mystery stories… wouldn’t it be interesting to read her thoughts as she chased down the villains! That could be a story all by itself!

I always keep paper and pencils close by… doodling or writing… my hands have a want to be kept busy. I’m a doodler, in thinking of what to write… often drawing on the side of my writings. My mother has always said… “just give you a box of paper, scissors, and pencils as a child… and you’d stay busy all afternoon.” I guess that was the beginning of my writing and blogging!

I don’t know if I could churn out a manuscript in 30 days like the ghostwriters did for the Nancy Drew books… how often were the scenes similar in many of the children series books?

November brings the NaNoWriMo writing challenge… maybe I’ll gear up for my own Nancy Drew novel this year. I joined that challenge a few years ago in writing a story that had lingered in my mind for years; I managed to write the 50,000 words required. It’s a fun write, but be forewarned… you’ll need to sit in front of your computer daily to reach your goal!


During the war years, there were many issues that dwindled away from the books… in a way, it was their contribution to the war effort. Nancy was no longer mentioned as driving the country roads as she sleuthed her mysteries. The, as to “how” Nancy arrived at the many places mentioned, seemed to have been left to the reader’s imagination. Everyone during WWII wanted to do their part, and the Syndicate was no different. They toned down many topics during the war years.


Special Armed Service Edition books were produced for the war

Even though the books somewhat rationed gasoline by not writing about Nancy driving, it didn’t stop people from getting to the stores to buy her books. The demand for books was higher during wartime… why… because people spent more time home… they read stories to escape from the war news. Publishers gave away over 122,951,031 copies of their most valuable titles during the war years. Not sure if soldiers, at that time, would have read Nancy Drew, but possibly they may have read the Hardy Boys if they were available. Even though they were targeted for a younger audience, maybe they enjoyed bringing themselves back to their younger years, when times were care free… taking their minds off war for the moment.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate was forced to donate their old unused metal bookplates for scrap metal collections by the government in WWII. During the war years, the Nancy Drew books were printed with a new motto on their title page… “This book while produced under wartime conditions is in full compliance with government regulations for the conservation of paper and other essential materials is COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED.”

war clip

This appeared on G&D books from 1943 to 1945

For the most part, the Syndicate did not address war issues, but as many children series books later began to address the war in their books, Harriet soon felt compelled to join in. In the Secret of the Old Attic (1943), they introduced a grandfather who had fought in WWI and also mentioned his deceased son.

In The Quest of the Missing Map (1942), published just after the US entered WWII… this was mentioned in the book… “Nancy and George found two letters and some type of a machine in a secret tunnel on the Chatham estate. One of the letters said the War Department (pg. 76-89) might be interested in it.” Later in the book, an older man told Nancy “war bickering… Yes, there’s plenty of it these days. What the world’s a-coming to, I don’t know.” (pg. 141)” While I haven’t read this volume yet, I’m sure it must have been in the “original text” version.

By the time Harriet received the manuscript of The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk, war news was beginning and she felt compelled to make more changes than ever to the book before printing occurred. Harriet completely changed the country of England that Nancy was traveling to… and rewriting her to instead go to Buenos Aires! War made Harriet feel the need to change the country where Nancy was originally heading to.

To somewhat appease readers about the war, Harriet asked Mildred to somehow write that Ned was in Europe and mention that Nancy was now taking flying lessons; to somewhat hint that she was learning to fly as part of the war effort. I’m not quite sure how Nancy learning how to fly a plane would be taken as doing her part for the war… do you? Was she going to become a secret spy for the government? Actually, I wouldn’t put it past her!

The first war casualty to affect the Syndicate family was Ensign R. V. Adams, Jr., the son of Harriet S. Adams. Harriet’s sister, Edna, stepped in for a short period until Harriet returned to work.

The war caused many changes around the globe that affected the Nancy Drew mystery books. Norway was the first foreign country to publish a Nancy Drew story, but after six volumes had been printed… the Nazi’s quickly stopped all production on more printings.

Nancy, a.k.a. Kitty, Susanne, Alice… were the many names Nancy Drew translated into for their readers in Norway and other European Countries. Another change besides the name was the color of her car… it became red! I guess blue wasn’t a favorite color there, but red is definitely my favorite color! In 1941, Norway was occupied by German forces who were very strict with what books could be confiscated. Eventually, Nancy Drew also found herself on the list, along with children classics such as Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Three Musketeers, and The Jungle Book. What good company our Nancy Drew kept!

War Restrictions also affected the printing of Nancy Drew books; in 1942, American publishers were restricted in how much paper they could use. The beginning of their allowance was first cut to using only 90% of the paper they had used in 1941; it later fell to 75% by 1944.

It took more than just paper to print those Nancy Drew books… other things such as copper, cloth, lead and even chlorine began to affect the printing industry. Plus the shortage of printers and binders, due to the draft, was another issue.

To further explain the things that affected the printing… Book Cloth was replaced with pressed paper… Copper was needed to make electrotype printing plates… Lead had been used as an element in the type of metal used in line castors like Linotype… Chlorine was needed to bleach and change the pH level of the wood pulp in order for it to remain white and flexible over a longer period of time; chlorine was also needed by the war department… it was the main ingredient in the manufacture of explosives.

The white paper normally used for printing book pages also became scarce during the war, so Grossett & Dunlap turned to using pulp paper in 1942; the white paper suppliers dwindled during the war years. The problem with the pulp paper was that it aged brown and often turned brittle with exposure to sunlight, air, and heat. It wasn’t until 1949, that G&W returned to using the good white paper again on their series books.

Besides the change to pulp paper, the paper itself became thinner… even using smaller margins. The thickness of the Nancy Drew books changed also from their usual two inches thick… down to almost one inch or so. Shrinking that much made for fast reads through those books… but as there was a high American patriotism during the war… no one complained!

Also during the war years, there was less mentioning of the scrumptious foods that Nancy and her friends had enjoyed earlier in the books. By the 1950’s, the elaborate foods we had remembered, once again reappeared back on the pages. I’ve always paid attention to the details of the food… as I often thought some of the dishes a strange pairing.

Why do I Collect Nancy Drew:

I had never forgotten Nancy Drew, but she came back into my life in 2017. Why? I had begun to make a collection for my granddaughter… but it wasn’t long before I fell back in love with Nancy Drew… falling hook, line, and sinker! I soon began searching for the yellow vintage books I had grown up with, in the 1960’s. The more I held them in my hand… they brought back my childhood memories of being so excited when I went to the stores with my mother and came home with a new book. And you know what happens when you begin collecting… there are always more “accessories” that goes along… and Nancy is known for her “accessories”!

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.

15 Responses to 2018 A to Z: W… All About Nancy Drew

  1. Anne Young says:

    I hadn’t thought much about all the resources that went into publishing a book. I think my father, who was a child during the war, found his favourite books were just not a available in Australia.

    Warnings would definitely have been a magnet for any self-respecting sleuth. Almost tells you to look there.

    Look forward to your future literary efforts in continuing Nancy’s adventures.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wendy says:

    Oh those warnings! All basically the same: Stay Away! You’d think a real villain wouldn’t be afraid of a teenage girl. HA
    Interesting observation on Coke vs Soda vs Pop. See, you ARE a budding sleuth, picking up on that clue.


  3. I’ve never seen an episode of Nancy Drew. I’ve only heard mention of her but haven’t a clue who she is. Well don on getting this far in AtoZ. That is brilliant 😉 I myself am stuck on x y and z ;(

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kristin says:

    It would be interesting to see how you worked Nancy Drew into your story to help your character out. You surely have a wealth of information at your fingertips about her and the way she works!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tamara says:

    Nancy sure needed thick skin with all the “warnings”, more like threats she got.
    Io always try to figure out where those fictional places are, I’m looking for clues: what trees, buildings, events might be giving away the area..?

    Liked by 1 person

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