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The Commute: Nancy Drew: girl detective


Fri, Jun 13th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

It was 1970 and I was in third grade when I met Nancy Drew. I suppose it was our designated ‘library hour’ and I was searching the shelves in our small, Catholic school library—a room the size of a walk-in closet. I spotted two nearly identical yellow volumes on an upper shelf and could read The Clue of the Dancing Puppet on the spine. Who knows why this intrigued me, but I took it home and by the time I’d finished it I had a new career goal: girl detective.

I was so hooked. After I read the two Nancy Drew mysteries in my school library, I discovered our public library had dozens of the other volumes in the series. Like any true addict, I quickly decided I needed to ration this treat—I allowed myself just two Nancys each week, and did most of my reading Friday nights and Saturdays. My dad would often insist we all attend the Friday night boys’ basketball game, and I would beg (usually unsuccesfully)to be allowed to stay home and read Nancy Drew.

I found that the J.C. Penney Christmas catalog had new Nancy Drew titles, so I dog- earred the page and drew arrows for my mom. These! These! I want these! She shook her head a lot at me, not entirely comfortable with having a bookworm daughter. But the books were inexpensive and easy to wrap. When you have five kids and one is this easily satisfied, no reason to hesitate.

Scholars have tried to explain the appeal of Nancy Drew, and I doubt if I can shed any new light on the subject. Nancy was eighteen (forever) and lived with her successful lawyer father, Carson Drew. We learned that her mother had died of a sudden illness when Nancy was three, but as far as I know, were never told any more about her mother’s death. Pleasant housekeeper, Hannah Gruen (think of Shirley Booth as "Hazel") kept the Drew household running and was forever preparing "late suppers" for Nancy when she’d come in from a caper. In the later novels, Hannah fussed a bit over Nancy’s career choice and the potential danger, but she was a servant. She wasn’t going to stand in Nancy’s way.

Mysteries to solve just sort of fell in Nancy’s lap. She was often assisted by her best girlfriends, the boyish George Fayne, and the ultra-feminine (and sort of a sissy) Bess Marvin. Occasionally Nancy’s alliteration-challenged boyfriend Ned Nickerson was in the picture, but mostly I remember that he fretted about Nancy and begged her to give up this dangerous habit of thwar .....
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Prairie Notes: Reaching the end

Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

By now, the last textbooks have been turned in, the lockers emptied of all but the bit of tape that held this year’s photos, and band members have rid themselves of the last vestiges of "Pomp and Circumstance" that played on and on in their brains af ..... 
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Of People, Places & Things: Bandit country

Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

“Jesus, Liu, what do you have that for?” I asked in English.   My astonishment was quickly translated into Chinese for Liu, who just a few seconds before had pulled a sock out of his pocket. Inside the sock was a handgun.[Read the Rest]

Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I was gone again, there’s so much going on. My sister-in-law, Carol, took me along to Rochester Saturday afternoon as her granddaughter was in a dance group at the Mayo Civic Center. I had never been there before, what a lovely place. It lasted from ..... 
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Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Today as I write my column it is May 24. I always write a week ahead, then send it through the mail so you can read it on Monday. Today, May 24, is special as it was my parents wedding day and they were married in 1917. My mother always said it was a ..... 
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Another One From Flaherty: Sam moves in and there goes the neighborhood

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a time of light, it was a time of darkness when Sam entered upon the scene. He was a young dog less than a year old when he came from nowhere to make his home with us. When I took him to the ..... 
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Township Roads: It's Eleanor's Fault

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Sheep grazed the lawn of the White House until well into the FDR administration. I suspect it was Eleanor who decided that it was time to get rid of the livestock. That set a bad precedent for lawns and the mowing that inevitably followed. If sheep s ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Jamie Rose Howe

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Last night when I was driving home from my graduation party, alone in the dark, I could only see a few hundred feet in front of my car. I couldn’t see the turns up ahead, or the hill I have to climb, or the deer, or the large crack in the road. I the ..... 
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