I came home from work last week to find a slim package at my door.
My friend, David sent sent me the audio book of Secret of the Old Clock, the first in the Nancy Drew series.
It was a big, slightly emotional week and it was nice to have my friend Nancy in the car with me.
As a young girl, I didn't so much read Nancy Drew mysteries as inhale them, from yellow cover to yellow cover. I would be mourning the end of the book even before it was over. How was I going to get to town to the library to get the next one? Or to Danners, if I had enough money saved to actually buy a book?
My best-friend-since-first-grade Ann Herr and I would discuss clues, trade books and carefully craft our birthday and Christmas wish-lists to avoid duplicates. You can't leave the fate of your book collection in the hands of Santa Claus.
Ann and I spent many hours sitting next to each other reading. Our younger siblings would run circles around us, whooping it up and playing. There are several photographs of that time with our brothers and sisters playing games -- there are none of us sitting on the steps reading, not a very exciting picture, I guess. My favorite Christmas gift ever was a bookcase. That bookcase has moved across the country with me, and still houses many of those same books I had in fourth grade.
Much has been written about the impact of Nancy Drew on womens lives. Every woman I know has a Nancy Drew story. Most center around Nancy's spunk. "Nancy manages the almost impossible feat of being wholesomely 'feminine' -- glamorous, gracious, stylish, tactful -- while also proving herself strong, resourceful, and bold," novelist Bobbie Ann Mason wrote in The Girl Sleuth. "Perhaps most important for a girl reading Nancy in the early 1960s, she showed that girls could have it all, complete with a wardrobe of sweater sets and sheaths, and a boyfriend, the endlessly tolerant Ned Nickerson, who never got in the way of her sleuthing."
I also wanted to Be Like Nancy, but really, who wouldn't? She was adventuresome, quick-thinking, smart, fearless and independent in her sporty blue roadster. But, then again, I knew plenty of spunky girls (I was not one of them, but Ann Herr was) and by the late 1960s, early 1970s spunk was expected/encouraged in young women.
More than that Nancy Drew opened up a another whole world to me.
Nancy's dad, Carson would send her on errands to other towns in her roadster. My dad sent me pull weeds, pick up rocks, burn trash or sweep out the barn. My mode of transportation was a big yellow school bus or an Impala station wagon. Mr. Drew was an attorney, a profession that I had no first hand knowledge of. I now have many attorney friends, but none of them wear a hat or send their children with "important papers to a neighboring town."
Nancy's friends took trips together, traded clothes and never had to babysit or go to Sunday school.
No one ever questioned Nancy's judgement. She could be gone for days or get herself locked in a closet and was always a hero.
Even now, that we are officially too old for Nancy, Ann and I still exchange Nancy Drew mysteries for Christmas. And, I will still pull out a yellow book and head out to the backyard, - alas, no secret tunnel -- and spend an afternoon curled up with Nancy.
It was good having Nancy with me in car this week.
I've missed her.