Friday, August 11, 2017

Nancy Drew's Parents by Karla Stover

     To me, one of the worst things about becoming an adult was outgrowing Nancy Drew. I went from Dick and Jane to Nancy Drew when I was about seven, and the highlight  of Christmas was getting two more of her books. Our library didn't carry the series so I borrowed wherever I could. One girl in my grade school was a couple years older and I didn't really know her, but, somehow, I learned she had The Mystery of the Tolling Bell and I borrowed the book at least three times.

Ndtmoftbbkcvr.jpg      Nancy has changed over the years, but my Nancy was an attractive, sixteen-ear-old blonde who drove and repaired her own Blue Roadster car, and didn't go to school. She ran the family home because her mother passed away; She was "spunky, plucky, and daring." She could tap dance, and in one book had to tap a message in Morse code, something I always wanted to be able to do--tap dance not learn Morse code. And apparently, money was no object when it came to her adventures.

     Nancy's mother was Margaret Wirt Benson, who wrote under her own name, Carolyn Keene, and several others. Just like Nancy,  Benson loved adventure, and visited Central American jungles, and archeological digs, and canoed down rivers. Benson created Nancy in the series' first book, The Secret of the Old Clock, when she was 25. Twenty-two Nancy Drew mysteries followed.

     Edward Stratemeyer was Nancy's father. While Benson wrote 130 books, Stratemeyer is credited with "producing in excess of 1,300." Note the words, "wrote," and "producing." What Stratemeyer did was write "a three-page plot for each book, describing locale, characters, time frame, and giving a basic story outline. He mailed this to a writer who, for a fee ranging from fifty dollars to two hundred and fifty dollars, would write a book and send it back within a month.

     After Stratemeyer died, Nancy got a new publisher and a new look and a new persona. "Some, mostly fans, vociferously lament the changes, (which included first-person  narrative) seeing Nancy as a silly, air-headed girl whose trivial adventures (discovering who squished the zucchini in Without a Trace (2003)) "hold a shallow mirror to a pre-teen's world," one woman wrote, as Nancy was also featured in The Nancy Drew Files, Nancy Drew Girl Detective, and Nancy Drew on Campus.
    Her friends, The Hardy Boys were also having growing pains. The books from their "Weird Period" are "full of inconsistencies, and their adventures involve futuristic gadgetry and exotic locations." The series I grew up with ended in 2005 and was replaced with The Hardy Boys - Undercover Brothers. They often undertake liberal causes.

     An old proverb says, "change is the only constant" which is no doubt  true, but I think I prefer to think of it as inevitable--except from a vending machine, of course.
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