Monday, April 18, 2011
It's an Adventure!
I was an early reader. I can’t say exactly when it was that I started reading, but I know I was six when I bicycled up to the dime store and bought Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, a hardback published by Whitman Publishing, for 59 cents. (Imagine a new book for 59 cents.) (Imagine allowing a six-year-old to bicycle to a shopping center by himself.)
I liked Trixie Belden, but nowhere near as much as I liked the Hardy Boys. The Hardy Boys books were first published in the 1930s; I read the familiar blue-binding reprints that began to be issued in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Joe and Frank Hardy were like my brothers. I helped them find the tower treasure, solve the great airport mystery, and discover what that Chinese junk was really all about. I rode in the back of their roadster (Nancy Drew drove a coupe). I got into serious trouble with them. I stood next to them in their father’s library as he sternly reprimanded the three of us. In all, I shared more than 40 mysteries with Joe and Frank. We had some great (and some scary) times together.
I wanted to be a real sleuth, which sounded so much younger and classier than “private detective.” Failing that, I would be a mystery writer. And, in fact, I started writing one when I was 10. My father owned a printing business, and one day he brought home a paperbound blank book for me to write to my heart’s content. I don’t remember all of what I wrote, but it was a mystery with a bunch of kids who find a secret passage behind a grandfather clock.
The Hardy Boys were what adventure was all about – excitement, danger, mystery, good guys and bad guys, teenagers outwitting all the adults and becoming heroes, and no mushy stuff.
I eventually outgrew the Hardy Boys, my mother sold my entire collection at a garage sale, and I went on to other things.
Life turned out to be a lot less like the Hardy Boys and a lot more about, well, day-to-day living. Most of us live lives that aren’t filled with danger, excitement, mystery and heroes. My life looks pretty tame compared to the Hardy Boys.
But every once in a while, I sneak down to the basement, and find the Hardy Boys books that I’ve picked up at garage sales, used book stores and book fairs, and discover that the adventure is still there, and Joe, Frank and I are tearing along the Shore Road in that roadster, on the prowl for the bad guys.
This post is submitted for the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. To see more posts on “adventure,” please visit the site. The links will be live at about 10 p.m. Central time tonight.
Illustration: Cover art for the “The Hardy Boys and the Tower Treasure” by Franklin Dixon. I'm really in the picture, too, just off to Joe's left, next to the tree.