Will The Real Nancy Drew Stand Up!
We all know who Nancy Drew is, but many of us remember a different Nancy… and she will always be our “Nancy” in the back of our minds… and hearts!
Who is your Nancy?
My Nancy drove a blue convertible, although she had many cars of color… of which I have no memory of, but she lived within the pages of my well-remembered and so-loved yellow spine matte books. Those covers were works of art… truly! And it was those covers that often helped me in deciding what my next book was to read.
I grew up as one of those nine-year-old girls who loved “sleuth” Nancy Drew… and coveted each new book that lined across my bookcase. Mama reminds me of how I kept my books so neatly lined on the shelf, allowing no one to touch them. If only I could just go back in time to the year of 1961… and meet that girl and see inside her bedroom… just one more glance at her bookshelf. What titles did I have? Who doesn’t dream to walk back in time and treasure your life… all the times and things and you’ve forgotten… but we all dream to remember!
Most likely, it was my mother who introduced me to Nancy Drew, as Nancy had been her favorite read… and just like my mother, Nancy was also born in 1930. She literally grew up, right alongside her… riding in that roadster and wearing those frocks, and definitely enjoying the fried chicken… just like Nancy!
I don’t believe, as a young girl, that I ever knew the name, Carolyn Keene, was a psysedium… never being an actual real life person. Maybe it was better I never knew that as a nine-year-old… why be disillusioned at such an early age!
There were so many things I never knew about Nancy Drew when I first read her in 1961… verses today in re-reading the stories; I read today in a new and different light. As that young nine-year-old girl, I read in awe of her life, excitement and daring ways. While, today I continue to read for enjoyment, I also read to compare storylines between the “original” and the “revised” text.
The revisions of the first 34 books began in 1959, and were revised for the specific reasons of bringing Nancy Drew into a world where the “baby boomers” could better relate to. They wrote out racial references and stereotyping, and changed Nancy’s spunky and forwardness into a more refined, and always by the law, type of girl… and lastly to re-word many references to items like roadsters and frocks. My era was more familiar with words like convertibles and dresses… would I have even understand Nancy’s original words?
If I had read the original books from the 1930’s, instead of the revised, would I still have fallen in love with Nancy? As I wouldn’t be reading words more written for my time era, but instead more of my mother’s years. That was the thinking of editor, Harriet S. Adams, as she began to bring Nancy Drew to my generation. Nancy suddenly stepped out of her blue tweeds and paper dust jackets onto the yellow spine matte covers… the books I grew up with. Never did I know of what went into producing those book covers I loved so much!
While I have memories of reading Nancy Drew as she explored the many hidden staircases, such as in “The Hidden Staircase”, or “The Mystery of the 99 Steps”… and most likely my love of searching through attics came from reading my favorite “The Secret in the Old Attic.”
As one of many nine-year-old girls reading Nancy Drew, I became quite the dreamer… daydreaming of having a handsome Ned, galloping around the country, and being the ever popular Nancy Drew, having the confidence to handle whatever came her way. Nancy led a quite interesting and exciting life as she solved mysteries, while all at the young age of eighteen; and only sixteen in solving the mysteries in 1930! She gave you the hopes and dreams that you also could have those adventures, but often only under the covers by flashlight… as you rode along with Nancy in her blue convertible, while chasing villains. Nancy was never afraid… well there were a few moments, like when she was thrown in the bungalow closet in “The Secret of the Old Clock”… it was just a little comical to read her say, “they’ve left me here to starve.” Spoiler Alert! Of course that never happened, as you the reader knew better… no one ever bested our Nancy!
Nancy brought us into her world on those pages filled with exciting words… written by Carolyn Keene. I always loved her name, wondering what she looked like, and thinking how did she write all those many books… that I so enjoyed reading. It was her words that painted pictures in my head! Often a book is far better than any movie you watch… as you paint the scene with the characters… you hear their thoughts, which often isn’t carried into the movies. How often have you thought… “the book was much better.”
One of the highlights of a shopping trip with my mother to the newly opened K-Mart box store, was that I knew I’d leave with a new Nancy Drew book. Upon entering, I made a quick “beeline” to the book section in the far corner, and often remained there until mama pulled me away. There were so many beautiful covers to choose from, it was impossible to hurry and make that final decision!
Knowing what I know today, those book covers were actually little books of art, but from a nine-year-old’s view, it was only about which book was coming home with me. I was constantly dragged from the book department… and always planning my next trip!
If you are one of the 1% that have never heard of Nancy Drew, or perhaps never read one… then you’ve missed out on reading stories about an iconic female figure, she’s one of a kind, our Nancy!
I great up in a great era… reading Nancy Drew!
and always when in a dilemma… think WWNDD!
…And if you happen to not know what that stands for… just google it!
© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved