Feb 17  |  Vern Fein

In the 1950’s, in grade school, as a seventh-grade boy, I was a voluminous reader of everything. Not only did I love comic books, like any other boy in my neighborhood, but I also I had a huge crush on Nancy Drew. I read everything Carolyn Keene wrote, and was in love with her detective heroine, who I saw as the elusive blonde that every schoolboy fancies. I read Nancy Drew as much as I could, and always had one of her books with me. It was only after my humiliation that I ever read a Hardy Boys book, a humiliation that suddenly pushed me toward those boy sleuths and away from my dream detective.

Nancy’s fall from grace happened that autumn. I can picture myself coming down the sidewalk to enter Hoover School with my books in my left arm and my current Keene favorite on top—The Password To Larkspur Lane. I had been half-way through the book, and was anticipating the first time I could ditch the teacher’s prattle. I wanted to resume my quest, to go deeper into that mystery, and spend some time with my fantasy.

Hurrying into school, I turned onto the front sidewalk and, looming in front of me, appeared two eighth grade trees: two angular, tall dark-haired girls standing in my path. Their long, bony, finger-branches pointed at me in unison.

“Look at that boy; just look at that boy! He is reading Nancy Drew; he is reading about a girl, a girl detective.”

They began to laugh hysterically, and call others over repeating their accusation every time other kids would join the scene. The laughter and finger pointing spread and I remember well what I did next.

I went into the school, took the Nancy Drew book to the library, hid it beside me, and left it on the desk, slinking away to my class. I never read her again.

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