The mystery of why the house still needs cleaning

I am starting to pick up my bedrooms, fall cleaning. They are full of stuff from summer. We do not have a garage and the outbuildings are full of costumes from my 20-year melodrama fest at Wildlife West.

I have to clean up the inside of the house before I start on the outside. I actually bent over and looked under the beds and found a Nancy Drew Mystery story, The Secret of the Forgotten City, copyright 1975. And I read it. (Better than cleaning those closets. I worry about finding Jimmy Hoffa’s body.)

The Nancy Drew story takes place in Utah with Navajo natives, yuccas and a necklace of turquoise that can only be worn by natives or it is bad luck.) At first, I thought this has to be a mystery in New Mexico with the mention of tribes, legends and rattlesnakes. I was sure the Land of Enchantment would come in here somewhere. They did have archeologists digging for pottery, beads and clay dolls, but nope—it was Utah.

The characters are never really threatened, are in harm’s way, or are mean to each other. They all get along, and even the tourists are kind. (Have you gone to the Balloon Fiesta recently?)

In the book they went to dinner in Las Vegas which the kids said was too bright at night. (No mention of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant.) They would rather eat sandwiches and be camping out under the stars. This set them up to meet the evil villain, Fleetfoot Joe. He was after the stone tablets and finding the way to the Forgotten City with its gold.

This was an easy read: like sugar-free chewing gum, a short spurt of sweetness and it didn’t hurt your teeth. They found the gold, gave the Navajos back their stone tablets with petroglyphs on them, and the bad guy got caught early enough for the high school kids to have supper.

I whipped through the book and looked up Nancy Drew on Google. It seems this ole gal has been around since the 1930s and is still going strong with new material from as late as 2014. It appears Nancy has always been written by ghost writers under the name Carolyn Keene. Nancy came about to fill a “girl gap” when the Hardy boys were all the rage in the 20s.

Miss Drew is always age 16 to 18, rich, can do all sorts of sports, solves mysteries, and has had the same boyfriend, Ned, for over 80 years. (He needs to come to grips that this is not going well.)

It is easy to make fun of this genre of reading material. However, when you consider the time it began, the 30s Depression era, it is clear why these books are still popular today. When these stories began not everyone owned a radio, and there was no television and no video games. But, people could read. Books about people going to exotic places around the world or even in the United States took the edge off the fact you might not have enough to eat that night.

Nancy Drew was not a rebel with tattoos and nose rings. She was not a super hero who flies or stops Godzilla with X-ray eyes. She has not started her own religion with followers in robes at the airport. She’s an American girl who is loyal to her friends, kind to strangers, gets her money from her rich lawyer Dad and wins the day. What’s not to like?

When J.K. Rowling began the adventures of Harry Potter, what adults and kids liked about the books was the fact that children had some power over their lives. So did Nancy Drew; she could have been Hermione. She’s smart, willing to help her friends and she faces up to her responsibilities without whining.

When I finished the book and had to face the closets again, I thought, what would Nancy Drew do? So I got in the car and drove to the library. God bless libraries. I am looking for The Secret of the Old Clock, or The Hidden Staircase. Anything to stop fall cleaning. Roaring Mouse reading out.