The Journal News from White Plains, New York on April 8, 1976 · Page 27
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The Journal News from White Plains, New York · Page 27

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White Plains, New York
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Thursday, April 8, 1976
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Page 27
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ANN LANDERS FAM I LY Slje cTournaHN'cUts ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y., THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 1976 Her attitude is confusing Dear Ann Landers: I have a problem with my mother I can't handle. She lives in another state and comes to visit quite often. I love her very much, but some of her peculiarities get on my nerves. For example: After spending three or four days with us, she'll say, "I'd better go home. I don't want to be in the way." (Our children sleep on cots when Grandma is here but they don't mind doing it and have told her so. ) At breakfast, if I ask her if she wants eggs, she'll say, "I can get along without them." When I ask if she'd like some jelly on her toast, she says, "I can eat it this way." She never asks for cream for her coffee until I notice she isn't using any. When I offer it, she says, "I can do without it." On her last trip, I could see she was having trouble with her back. When I asked if she wanted me to make an appointment with the doctor, she said, "It would take too much gas." What can I do with this woman? I really am stumped for a solution A Loving Daughter Dear Daughter: The answer is nothing. You aren't going to change your mother. So fix her some eggs, give her jelly for her toast, cream for her coffee, and make a doctor's appointment if you think she is ill. THE RETIREES Take cause to the public By JACK SMITH Gannett News Service I've spent much of my business career in public relations, so it bothers me when I see people with a perfectly good cause going about it in the wrong way. Recently, I noted this in the case of groups practicing "senior power," a cause which I endorse and advocate. There are a few instances which are worth commenting upon because they aren't accomplishing the objective of gaining more rights and comforts for seniors. These methods don't work because they turn off the people who have the power of granting the rights and the comforts the folks who run companies or provide facilities or govern communities. Seniors can exercise more power by not patronizing a restaurant, by staying away in droves, than by picketing in front and making it unpleasant for other customers. In fact, the second course may well make it impossible to attain the one thing that will force the restaurant to treat seniors better the sponsorship of the request by the more numerous younger patrons which the management is much more fearful of losing. Seniors can exercise more power by quietly presenting their case for improved civic facilities to the city fathers than by shouting at the managers of buildings and the operators of public transportation services. Turning off other age groups with bludgeoning tactics or rude demonstrations is an unwise procedure because senior power can use all the numbers it can get. Most seniors are no longer active in running the things that have to be changed if the goals are to be achieved. Nor are those who make up the managements of these enterprises, institutions, and communities close enough in age to be automatically aware of why seniors are so excited about the shortcomings. Seniors must make others feel the chill in the bones, the twinge in the joints, the humiliation of being considered "too old" that seniors feel. And this requires getting other ages to listen patiently and to try to understand thoroughly a process that simply will not be completed when others must react to hostility. I would advise senior groups to begin their campaigns by studying how things happen in the arenas where their objectives must be achieved. In other words: If we are going to win this battle, who is going to flash the first signal on the other side? That indicates where the message has to be carried first. But it's only time to go there with it when the seniors have made thorough efforts to communicate their needs to other age groups which use the facilities or services in question. Because then the seniors go with endorsements. The additional numbers represented are seen as buyers, customers, or votes. It's certainly smart to organize to achieve goals. But the way to use the organization is to generate news interest, to write and distribute educational material, to make talks and presentations to multiply the humanpower for the drive. In honor of National Library Week (April 4-10) why not take the children to the local library to select a book for pleasure reading? Chances are they'll head for the classic mystery tales of sleuths like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. Both series are enjoying a renaissance among young readers, in contrast to a recent period when many libraries took the books off the shelves, citing their lack of Miterary quali- ty.' Case solved-Wissing' Noncy Drew refurns By JOHN DALMAS Staff Writer "You're a true daughter of your old dad all right,, Nancy! Pining for another mystery before you're well out of this one!" "Oh, I wasn't pining exactly," Nancy declared gayly. . . "The Hidden Staircase" (original version) Public libraries in Rockland over the last decade were quietly trashing old children's favorites like the "Nancy Drew," "Hardy Boys," "Tom Swift," and "Bobbsey Twins" series. But now they are beginning to show signs of a complete turnabout in their thinking. During the late sixties it was the consensus among children's librarians that young people were "too sophisticated" for such reading, or that the times demanded a certain amount of censorship of material reflecting social attitudes not precisely "au courant," (though librarians were loath to label it as such). For that reason, many of the old series books were "weeded" (a library term) out of collections, and either sold off at book sales or outright thrown away. FACED NOW in the mid-seventies with tumbling reading scores in the schools, and with fewer children seemingly interested in reading, children's librarians in Rockland have been putting the old series books back on the shelves in an effort to get children interested in coming into the library and at least reading something. And while most librarians here are accepting the books for the time being only as donations, one library director in the county has actually purchased complete sets of two of the series, a transaction that eight years ago might have rasped the sensibility of many a children's library consultant. What might have been significant to librarians during the years when the series were considered anathema was the fact that while children were not always reading the newer, "more literary" books on the library shelves, many kids were out finding the old series books somewhere else and eagerly devouring them. Grosset and Dun-lap, which publishes Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins, happily reports it has been going along in the last decade selling up to five million copies a year from all three series. BY FAR THE most popular of the old series all of which, by the way, have been completely rewritten in recent years (see accompanying story) is Nancy Drew. Created under the pseudonym "Carolyn Keene" by Edward Stratemey-er (who also authored Tom Swift, Rover Boys, and Bobbsey Twins books), and later carried on by his daughter Harriet, Nancy Drew is the perennial "indulged but never spoiled" teenage daughter of widower Carson Drew, a well-to-do attorney in the upper-middle-class Middle Western community of River Heights. An amateur sleuth with considerable "daughter-of-a-rich-man nerviness," Nancy solved her first of 53 mysteries, "The Secret of the Old Clock," when the series began in 1930, and her latest, "The Sky Phantom," only just last year. Noted for their end-of-chapter, suspense and elements of Gothic horror at least in the original earlier versions the Nancy Drew books have sold more than 60 million copies, most of them in inexpensively bound editions selling at the present time for less than two dollars and generally available in variety and five-and-ten-cent stores. In response to recent requests from libraries, though, Gros Nancy Drew trades set and Dunlap has announced it is issuing editions in a more durable binding. IN ROCKLAND County, no children's librarian is more pleased with the Nancy Drew renaissance than Betty Brock at the Nyack Library, who has been trying to accumulate a special collection of the original 1930s versions. "When I first came to Nyack it was just after the state had sent out a children's services consultant who weeded the library of a lot of 5-..".. As Nancy's personality changed in the rewriting of her books, so did her wardrobe. At left, a sketch from the 1930 original version of 'The Hidden Staircase,' and at right a sketch from the 1959 rewritten version. The xnew' teenage sleuth is in tune with times Nostalgic parents remembering the Nancy Drew mystery stories of their youth and wishing the same reading experience on their children may not be aware that early-books in the series presently available on the market are not the same as the originals. BEGINNING IN 1956, Nancy Drew mysteries of the thirties and forties were completely rewritten by a syndicate headed by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, daughter of Nancy Drew creator Edward Stratemeyer and the author of each book in the series since her father's" death. Rewritten much shorter (from 25 down to 20 chapters), and in terser prose, the new versions delete much of the Gothic violence in the original stories. Villains are less inherently evil, the entrapments less menacing, and Nancy, herself, is more of a teenager in the common mold than the arch, domineering prodigy in the originals who always seemed older than her years. And though the earlier mysteries had a style not far removed her shirtwaist dress for jeans this material," Mrs. Brock said. "It was not considered by the state to have any literary merit in those days and was also considered repetitious." Recently, Mrs. Brock said, she set up a "mystery collection" at the library inviting children in the community to donate Nancy Drews so that the old series might begin to build up again. ' It's my feeling if the kids want to read Nancy Drew they should be able to find the books at the li 1 As--Si: from Horatio Alger (many of which stories Stratemeyer actually wrote), the newer versions seem written down to a reading level not much above that of, say, Archie Comics. REACHED at her home in Ma-plewood, New Jersey, Mrs. Adams, who though well past retirement age still provides plot outlines for new mysteries in the series, said the decision to rewrite the older books had been based on a number of factors. "When I took over, I felt I did not like the cameraderie of Nancy and her father," Mrs. Adams said. "For example, in one of the stories he gave her a gun. I did not like the idea of a teenage girl having a gun in her possession. Nancy was also very bossy. Now Nancy has a very sweet relationship with her father, and I think that since I took over she has become more like my own daughters. I always thought of her as an extra daughter. She's still the same bright Nancy, however far more diplomatic." Mrs. Adams said many of the to go sleuthing on a mansion's brary. Adults can have all the mediocre books they want, yet we're very picky about what our children read. I can't justify spending money on these books, but I wonder if there is any harm in reading them." Grace Meyer at the Piermont Public Library agrees "You have to get your feet wet. It's hard for children to jump right into the classic books. We feel the Nancy Drews are very popular; the kids like to read them, and it's a way to get children to read. It's better they villains, servants, and minor characters in the original versions spoke in dialect. "There were so many. There were Negro, Jewish, Irish, Polish, Spanish. Various organizations, including the NAACP, got after us and we felt we had to make changes. It led in some cases to creating entirely new plots. It's amazing when you have to change a character you have to change your story, too." SOME OF THE mysteries, she said, involved orphans and adoptions, and those had to be changed because adoption laws had changed so drastically since the thirties. "Mainly, the new books are written for today's children. The old books were the life and times of the 1930s. A little girl 10 years old today doesn't know anything about the 1930s. I hear from many, many little girls whose mothers had the old books. One little girl who had read her mother's book first and then read the new version wrote that she liked the old one all right, but the rewritten one seemed more like her friends." - JOHN DALMAS 1C roof in 'The Hidden Staircase' start out with something rather than nothing. I've known some children who have become big readers as a result of reading Nancy Drews. That kind of light, fast reading can help develop reading skills. After awhile the kids discover for themselves that the books are repetitious or of not high literary quality. I think it's better that way than for us to dictate what they should read." WHILE MOST libraries in the county now have the old series books out on shelves again (some with more copies than others and in varying degrees of conspicuous display), almost all children's librarians say they are not cataloging the books or giving them accession numbers, and some are including them only in special circulating collections or "swap clubs," where a child must give up a book to the collection before he may take one away. With dwindling amounts of money available for new book acquisitions, few librarians, like Betty Brock at Nyack, will go so far as to purchase them, however. But Don Jacobsen at the New City Free Library and Mary Ann Livsey at Kings Daughters in Hav-erstraw are two exceptions. "We just purchased complete sets of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys." Jacobsen said, "and we're going to catalog them, too. We find that the kids want them, and these books get the kids into the library. You cannot deny a kid a best seller when you cannot deny an adult the same thing." "We wanted to buy the Hardy Boys last year, but the series was out of print at the time," said Miss Livsey, adding that Kings Daughters already has most of the Nancy Drews in its collection. COMMENTING ON the changed attitudes of children's librarians on Nancy Drew, Edith Esterbrooks at the New York State Division of Library Development said that formerly librarians took more direction from the state in determining what ought to be in collections. "Up until 1972 there was a consultant at the state level who went around to all of these libraries and offered her subjective professional judgement as to how money would be better spent," Miss Esterbrooks said. "There was a general philosophy then that with limited funds for development, a library should purchase material that was of more literary value than the Nancy Drew books and the others, and it was so recommended." With the rise of cooperative library systems. Miss Esterbrooks said, the state children's services consultant position was abolished and her role delegated io consultants at the cooperative library level. "We feel that a consultant, say, with the Ramapo-Catskill Library System (of which Rockland is a part) would be in a better position to make professional judgements with regional understanding." IF THAT understanding in Rockland County now is that young people want Nancy Drew, Miss Esterbrooks is apparently correct. Linda Engelbert, children's consultant for Ramapo-Catskill is fully aware of the greater demand in the county for Nancy Drew in the last two years, and though she considers that demand a "nostalgia thing," she is adopting a "hands-off" policy and says each individual library has to make its own decision. "You'll be careful, won't you, Dad?" Nancy pleaded with her father. "Yes, I'll be cautious," Carson Drew promised smilingly.

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