I wish I could say this was my Academy Award, but this is an actual Academy Award won by director Frank Capra for one of his war-time documentaries. The award was part of a display of Capra Memorabilia in a former Italian Restaurant in Palm Springs, CA, owned by his son Tom. I met him the day I visited the restaurant.
In September 1996, I spent a week's vacation touring from Oklahoma City through Kansas to Kansas City, then across Missouri to St. Louis, and then south from St. Louis to New Madrid, Mo., my hometown and still the home of my parents.
Along with visiting my brothers in both major cities, I stopped at as many antique malls and bookstores as possible. It was at one such store near Boonville, MO, that I found a box of Happy Hollister books, half with dust jackets. They were in great shape and per book my cost was less than about $2 a book. I bought them, knowing that I could sell the dustjacketed ones for quite a bit more and recoup my investment. And perhaps, sentimentally, I hated to see them just sit on the floor of this concrete-floored antique mall.
Upon arriving in New Madrid a few days later, I put aside collecting to spend time with my parents. At some point my mother Zoe' asked me to accompany her to the local library to visit with her "girlfriends," the two local librarians. She was always proud of me and wanted to share that pride with these two fine ladies. Like any man, I hesitated, not wanting to be a part of such "silly" ventures. But I went along, knowing this would make her happy.
At the library I reminisced about the joy I had as a kid there, especially checking out the Happy Hollister books they kept. These books and my fondness in reading them started this hobby. I was surprised to learn the library still had volumes from the series, but they were in bad shape. The head librarian mentioned that recently a childhood friend of mine, who also read and enjoyed the series, had offered to cover the cost of purchasing new copies. I then offered the non-dustjacketed Hollister books I had bought to her and said if she collected the money, give it to my mother. They were pleased to have the new books. I enjoyed the rest of my visit with my parents and returned to Oklahoma City a few days later.
Within a few weeks my dear mother passed away in her sleep. At her wake I asked the librarian to keep the money for the books and place a dedication in the books to my mother. They will serve as a reminder of her, and this dedication will, too. =
I owe my love of mystery books to her and she always encouraged me to read. Ironically, my mother had the mindset that would not have understood the internet, much less used it. Yet, now she has her "place" on the World Wide Web.
As related on another section of this blog, my interest in children's mystery series books began with The Happy Hollisters, because it was the only series at my local public library. I then went on to acquire and read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew picture cover books. At sometime I sold those books and concentrated on buying the early Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books with dust jackets. My collection now consists of mostly white spine Nancy Drews and I have the orange spine Hardy Boys dust jackets.
Although I grew up with the 1960s Hardy Boys blue and Nancy Drew yellow spine picture cover books, I have no special affection for those books. I enjoy the early books because I just like the era they represent. Along with the above mentioned series I collected and read Trixie Belden, Power Boys and the Bobbsey Twins.
During my high school years I put aside children's mystery series books, but returned to collect those books sometime in college. The spark that relit my fire was oddly enough one of The Outdoor Girls books written under the name of Laura Lee Hope. While working part-time at the library of the Missouri State Historial Society, I came across one of the volumes of that series and during breaks, I would read several chapters a day. Why this book was even there was a true mystery to me. But I enjoyed the simple storylines, the slight mystery and adventure these girls enjoyed, and most of all the depiction, although very unrealistic, of the lifestyle of the years 1910-1930. A few years later I would happen upon seven or eight dustjacketed volumes of the series at an Oklahoma City antique store, and the urge to buy was impossible to resist.
Through the decade of the 1980s I would add one series after another to my list of interest including, in no particular order: Mercer Boys, Ken Holt, Rick Brant, Tom Quest, Walton Boys, Don Sturdy, Ted Scott
In particular, I fell in love with the stories of Capwell Wyckoff, author of the Mercer Boys, and the Mystery Hunters, and numerous unrelated book. In the 1990s, I added the following series: Penny Parker, Judy Bolton, X Bar X Boys, Dana Girls, Hal Keen Brains Benton, Biff Brewster, Andy Lane, Kay Tracey I especially fell in love with the stories of Mildred Wirt Benson, the first "Carolyn Keene" and prolific author of dozens of other books. Most especially I enjoy her Penny Parker series. Many times I would add a series just because I came across nice copies, with dustjackets. Such was the case with the X Bar X Boys. The best piece of luck I ever had was finding 12-14 Ken Holt books, with djs, at an antique fair at a local mall. Each book cost about $2.50. I rank Ken Holt among my most favorite series books. The sign of a favorite series is when I look forward to reading the next few chapters, and finish the book quickly. If a book is not as exciting, I may takes weeks to finish. Series that rank among my favorites include, as mentioned, Ken Holt, Penny Parker, Tom Quest, Rick Brant, Mercer Boys, Biff Brewster, and Brains Benton.
NANCY DREW MOVIE POSTER
This is a lobby card from the Warner Brothers' movie NANCY DREW TROUBLESHOOTER, one of the most valuable items in my collection.
RARE AUTOGRAPH OF HAPPY HOLLISTERS ILLUSTRATOR
This is a very rare autograph of Helen S. Hamilton who was the creator of the Happy Hollisters illustrations and of course the person responsible for creating the look of each character. I found this book on an eBay auction and am very proud to have it in my collection!
SPANISH HAPPY HOLLISTERS
This is the cover of THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AT PONY HILL FARM, the Spanish version. Below are the rest of the Spanish Happy Hollisters I own. They were published by a company called Torray of Spain. The first three books are earlier editions published in the 1970s. Notice the style is totally different from the orange cover editions published in the 1980s.
THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE ICE CARNIVAL MYSTERY
HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE CUCKOO CLOCK MYSTERY
REVERSE SIDE OF SPANISH HAPPY HOLLISTERS
THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AT CIRCUS ISLAND
Elsewhere on my blog is more details about foreign editions of The Happy Hollisters. Note these orange-covered editions are placed here in the order of publication, which is not at all similar to the original US editions.
THE HAPPY HOLLISTES AND THE MYSTERY AT MISSILE TOWN
THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE CUCKOO CLOCK MYSTERY
THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLDEN WITCH
THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE ICE CARNIVAL MYSTERY
THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE PUNCH AND JUDY MYSTERY