I have many memories from junior high school revolving around doing things for the first time – wearing makeup for the first time, first time going to a dance, first time taking a purse to school (I thought I was so cool!), eating lunch outside of the cafeteria, changing rooms for classes, changing clothes for P.E., first time picking an elective class, and taking the bus for the first time, to name a few. But I will always remember junior high as the time when I first discovered the Nancy Drew mystery series.
Like many girls, Nancy Drew was my hero. Before there was Veronica Mars, Sydney Bristow, the Powerpuff Girls, and Olivia Benson, Nancy Drew was the ultimate sleuth and girl-power persona and I wanted to be her. I wanted to drive her blue convertible and hang out with friends George and Bess, not to mention all-star boyfriend Ned Nickerson. I wanted to go everywhere and investigate spooky houses and people and solve puzzles just like her.
I remember hiding out in the library, devouring every Nancy Drew book available. I was already a fan of solving mysteries, as evidenced by my love for Scooby-Doo, and this was even better. Let’s face it – Scooby-Doo had Velma, the brainy, geeky girl with ugly glasses (who lost them at least once an episode causing her to yell “My glasses!”) and a funky haircut, or Daphne, whose role always seemed to be to just look pretty and occasionally get kidnapped. But Nancy Drew, she was a girl detective I could follow.
Nancy Drew had friends and a boyfriend, was spunky and resourceful. Not to mention, Nancy Drew was smart as well as being pretty, a combination almost unheard of. She was the icon for feminism. She showed us that women could be independent and didn’t have to rely on men if they didn’t want to. I can’t remember a plot in any of the books I read where Ned Nickerson arrives to save the day (Not that this didn’t ever happen, I just don’t remembering it happen…). Nancy proved that women could take on unconventional roles and that if you wanted to explore a secret passageway or help the police capture a group of sinister racketeers or solve the mystery of a phantom ghost horse, you could.
Nancy Drew definitely inspired as well as entertained me throughout my junior high experience and I will never forget the books or the characters.