Sleuthing like the Hardy Boys

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, Heart of Hollyhill

August 19, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill Main Street. Well, actually I’m not on Main. I’m out on Barton Road where we live. Cleaning my room. Not by choice! But Aunt Love says it has to be done. She says I’m a pack rat. That’s not true. Not exactly true anyway. I simply like to save my books and papers. But she says some of it needs to go before the new school year starts and I begin collecting a new year’s worth of papers. I don’t save them all. Hardly ever the math ones, but always the English ones. I love diagramming sentences, don’t you? Figuring out which phrase goes where. It all makes so much more sense then. 

And why would anybody ever want to get rid of books? Books can be read over and over. So, she’s right. I probably will never read my Hardy Boy mysteries again, but just looking at them makes me remember all the great fun I had reading about Joe and Frank and their sleuthing. 

Sleuth – see there’s a great word. If it’s a noun, the dictionary says it’s a detective. If it’s a verb, then it’s more fun. Verbs are, you know. More fun. Anyway then it means “to act as a detective.” I used to wish a mystery would pop up in front of me when I was reading all about their exciting adventures. I could do some sleuthing. But it’s a fact that nothing exciting happens in Hollyhill. Even if Wes does say that the whole town in full of strange characters. Strangely ordinary and hardly mysterious. He’s the most mysterious guy I know since he says he’s from Jupiter. The planet. The Hardy boys and I know that’s not exactly true, but Wes hasn’t ever said where he is from. It drives Zella crazy. She has to know everything about everybody in Hollyhill.

Of course, now that Mr. Whitlow is driving her crazy too. She can’t figure him out. He told her he was from some little town up close to Chicago. So what does Zella do? She calls a newspaper up there and talks this woman who answered the phone into looking in the phone book for a Whitlow listing. None. Not one. And the woman said she’d never heard the name. 

Now, how could that happen in a little town something like Hollyhill, Zella asked the air in front of her desk. She wasn’t talking to me. Didn’t hardly seem aware I was even standing there. So I didn’t answer. I just let her keep talking to herself. Thought I might hear something interesting about Mr. Whitlow. Something that might be mysterious enough to call for some sleuthing. 

Wouldn’t it be funny if Zella and I teamed up to do some puzzle solving like Joe and Frank Hardy? Zella and Jocie. That wouldn’t just be funny. That would be insane! And not apt to happen unless the world starts spinning backwards or something. 

But no way am I throwing away my Hardy Boy books. I might have to read them again to get some pointers in this sleuthing stuff. Maybe I can part with a few history papers instead. Aunt Love will be happy if she sees me toting out a box full of junk. She won’t look to see what’s in it. So a few history papers, a few worn out pairs of underwear, those kiddie magazines Mrs. Wilson keeps bringing to church to give me after her grandkids read them. Dad says I can’t say no. That I have to smile and act like I can’t wait to read some bunny rabbit story so Mrs. Wilson will feel good. Even if it is for babies! But nobody said I had to keep them forever and with them gone, I’ll have more room for real books.

August 19, 1964

Jocie
Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill Main Street. Well, actually I’m
not on Main. I’m out on Barton Road where we live. Cleaning my room. Not
be choice! But Aunt Love says it has to be done. She says I’m a pack
rat. That’s not true. Not exactly true anyway. I simply like to save my
books and papers. But she says some of it needs to go before the new
school year starts and I begin collecting a new year’s worth of papers. I
don’t save them all. Hardly ever the math ones, but always the English
ones. I love diagramming sentences, don’t you? Figuring out which phrase
goes where. It all makes so much more sense then. 

And
why would anybody ever want to get rid of books? Books can be read over
and over. So, I probably will never read my Hardy Boy mysteries again,
but just looking at them makes me remember all the great fun I had
reading about Joe and Frank and their sleuthing. 

Sleuth – see there’s a great word. If it’s a noun, the dictionary says it’s a detective. If it’s a verb, then it’s more fun. Verbs are, you know. More fun. Anyway then it means “to act as a detective.” I used to wish a mystery would pop up in front of me when I was reading all about their exciting adventures. I could do some sleuthing.
But it’s a fact that nothing that exciting happens in Hollyhill. Even if
Wes does say that the whole town in full of strange characters. Strangely ordinary and hardly mysterious. He’s the most mysterious guy I know since he says he’s from Jupiter. The planet. The Hardy boys and I know that’s not exactly true, but Wes hasn’t ever said where he is from. It drives Zella crazy. She has to know everything about everybody in Hollyhill.

Of
course, now that Mr. Whitlow is driving her crazy too. She can’t figure
him out. He told her he was from some little town up close to Chicago.
So what does Zella do? She calls a newspaper up there and talks this
woman who answered the phone into looking in the phone book for a
Whitlow listing. None. Not one. And the woman said she’d never heard the
name. 

Now,
how could that happen in a little town something like Hollyhill, Zella
asked the air in front of her desk. She wasn’t talking to me. Didn’t
hardly seem aware I was even standing there. So I didn’t answer. I just
let her keep talking to herself. Thought I might hear something
interesting about Mr. Whitlow. Something that might be mysterious enough
to set my mind to sleuthing. 

Wouldn’t
it be funny if Zella and I teamed up to do some puzzle solving like Joe
and Frank Hardy? Zella and Jocie. That wouldn’t just be funny. That
would be insane! And not apt to happen unless the world starts spinning
backwards or something. 

But
no way am I throwing away my Hardy Boy books. I might have to read them
again to get some pointers in this sleuthing stuff. Maybe I can part
with a few history papers instead. Aunt Love will be happy if she sees
my toting out a bag full of junk. She won’t look to see what’s in it. So
a few history papers, a few worn out pairs of underwear, that kiddie
magazine Mrs. Wilson keeps bringing to church to give me after her
grandkids read it. Dad says I can’t say no. That I have to smile and act
like I can’t wait to read it so Mrs. Wilson will feel good. But nobody
said I had to keep them forever and with them gone I’ll have more room
for books.

Do
you love books? Did you read the Hardy Boy mysteries when you were a
kid? Did you wish you could solve a mystery like them?