Intrepid girl detective Nancy Drew is 80 today, a fact I learned from the Facebook status update of one of my former journalism students when she linked to this USA Today article. (Thanks, Melissa Hostutler!)
Immediately I followed suit, linking to the article and wishing ‘Nancy’ a happy birthday too. Soon other friends of mine were sharing their reminisces of the books that gave all of us countless hours of joy when we were young.
Several prominent women, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former First Lady Laura Bush have listed Nancy Drew as an influence.
Nancy Drew was a huge influence on my decision to become a journalist (I’m too cowardly to snoop around scary attics!) and a writer in general. Ironically, as big a mystery fan as I am…I don’t have a mystery writer’s ‘voice.’ And my mother/writing partner (my other big influence!) and I don’t have a collective mystery voice together.
But we share a love for stories with mystery and mayhem.
Nancy and her pals Bess and George were always on the trail of bad guys (or gals…?), zipping around in her speedy roadster. Good-natured Ned was secondary, and we readers know poor Mrs. Gruen could never rein Nancy in.
Years later, as a mother, I think Nancy would never have been allowed to get into all the ‘scrapes’ she did if her mother was alive. No figuring out “The Clue of the Velvet Mask” or “The Secret in the Old Attic” or “The Mystery at Lilac Inn.”
As a child, nothing made me happier than to get to stay home sick from school, tucked into my top bunk in the room I shared with my sister, a pile of Nancy Drew mysteries by my side.
When I was a child organized sports didn’t exist for girls (I woulda been a halfway decent soccer player…at ten), and it wasn’t until mid-year of sixth grade that the fairer sex was allowed to wear pants to school in the small Michigan town I lived in.
Happy Birthday, Nancy Drew. You’ve come a long way, and so have we.