I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what's best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
And eyes that burn like cigarettes
I want a girl with the right allocations
Who's fast and thorough
And sharp as a tack
She's playing with her jewelry
She's putting up her hair
She's touring the facility
And picking up slack
I want a girl with a short skirt and a lonnnng jacket......
I want a girl who gets up early
I want a girl who stays up late
I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who uses a machete to cut through red tape
With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tinted glass
~~ “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake
Like so many women of my age, when I was in grade school and junior high school, I was consumed with Nancy Drew. That was my go-to present for people to get me for birthday or Christmas presents—if there was a new Nancy Drew book out, they knew I would love it! I had the whole set at one point but gave it away. I’m kicking myself for that now.
I don’t know what made me think of it, or if I ran across a passing reference in my daily readings, but I thought I’d check out eBay and see what kind of Nancy Drew books were out there. A couple of people were offering the entire set but I figured upwards of $200 wasn’t really justifiable. (But if Ken sees this, hint hint! It’s the ones that are the vintage matte books, not the Flashlight series.)
I saw a listing for the very first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock. It was a reasonable price and the seller said that it was in good condition, so I decided to order it. It came today and I can’t begin to describe the joy I felt when I opened the box and unwound the bubble wrap and there was that book that I knew so well and that brought back so many memories.
It is in wonderful condition, with the cover that I remember. The copyright is listed as 1959, and if that’s the case, it’s in great condition. I do know that these vintage matte editions were published in the mid-century. My set of books was like this and that was probably from the mid-’60’s to the mid-’70s. (I also had a couple of the original plain blue covers from the ‘30s, and what I wouldn’t give to have those back!) The illustrations on the inside covers. The list of the full catalog of books on the back cover. It was a tidal wave of memories of all the happy hours I spent reading about Nancy, George, Bess, and their adventures.
As I think back on it, Nancy was very much a role model for me. I liked scary movies anyway, so her poking around in mysterious and spooky places was right up my alley. She was smart, persistent, and willing to fight for justice. She didn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something because she was a girl. Even back then, I was drawn to old, abandoned places and remember sneaking into empty houses. (I never broke in or anything! They were missing doors and windows...long abandoned and unoccupied.) I still have that fascination and I may or may not have ventured into a place here and there—still unlocked—but with No Trespassing signs up. I can neither confirm nor deny that. Ahem.
I never got to solve any mysteries like Nancy did, but not for lack of trying. How did she manage to stumble upon so many mysteries? Lucky girl. I would have been happy with one. In my tiny little town, it was more like The Mystery of the Forgotten Locker Combination or The Clue in the Lunchroom Pizza. We were decidedly lacking in shady characters and every effort to flush them out was all for naught.
But Nancy gave me a sense of adventure that I’ve never lost. I know there are a lot of good Young Adult books out there now and I’m sure some of the heroines are on par with Nancy. We see a lot of young warrior women, like Katniss Everdeen, in YA books now. I applaud them all! For me, Nancy Drew was the epitome of coolness. She had a sharp eye for clues and the intellectual capacity to put them all together. The girl in the Cake song makes me think of Nancy. Sharp as a tack, indeed!
**Update** In the time I wrote this, I ordered a lot of 18 vintage Nancy Drew books from eBay. That should scratch my itch.