JERRY WEST LETTERS
From September 1965 through May 1969, I corresponded with the author of The Happy Hollisters series, Jerry West, pseudonym for Andrew Svenson, a former newspaper writer and then partner in the Stratemeyer Syndicate of East Orange, NJ. Part of my correspondence with Mr. Svenson involved problems with obtaining books from the Happy Hollisters Book Club of Garden City, New York. These were problems he actually had little ability to solve. But for this 10 to 13-year-old, he seemed the proper person to clear up any problems. Actually, I was probably a pest to him, but whether he was able to solve a particular problem or not, I enjoyed receiving letters from him.
In the correspondence came details of his life and a few pieces of information about his writing methods. My favorite part of his letters were the times he mentioned a particular Hollister book just completed or about to be released.
In a Nov. 1967 letter he wrote:
Thank you very much for your letter. I thought you'd enjoy THE MYSTERY OF THE MEXICAN IDOL.
Yes, Tim, I always spend some time at a place when I plan to write about it, and I flew down to Yucatan before I started this story.
The following January he mentioned his latest Happy Hollisters edition:
I am working on a new story now, called THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS AND THE MONSTER MYSTERY. And I am planning to write more Hollisters. It takes me about 6 weeks, once my outline is finished. The characters are usually modeled after someone I know.
The interesting part of that last note was that he only created one more Happy Hollisters book after the MONSTER MYSTERY(see scans). In a March 1968 letter, Mr. Svenson wrote of his educational background.
Since Spring is right on our doorstep, I couldn't be better. Springtime always makes me feel great.
You asked what college I went to--the University of Pittsburgh. Then I attended Montclair State College in New Jersey for pedagogy courses, because I really wanted to become a teacher. As it turned out, I was sidetracked and worked as a journalist and editor for some fifteen years, before I started writing children's books.
Education is very important, Tim, and I do hope you will work hard in school.
In a June 1968 letter, he noted that the "Monstery Mystery is finished in manuscript, but not published yet." It is interesting to note that in my last letter from him, received in May 1969, he notes:
Thank you very much for your nice note. I am planning to write more books; as a matter of fact I just started a new one called THE MYSTERY OF THE MIDNIGHT TROLLS.
THE MONSTER MYSTERY is now available at book stores.
As most Happy Hollisters fans know, Mystery of the Midnight Trolls was the last Happy Hollisters book, at volume 33. The end of the 1960s saw the slow demise of series books with only such series as the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift Jr., and a few others, continuing to be published. Most that remained were published as paperback books. Till this day you can still buy the original Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books in most bookstores. These include the revised text and exact duplicates of the 1930 editions.
(Below in a separate part of my blog are material from a Happy Hollisters Book Club mail promotion including the envelope it came in. The scene on the envelope is from The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery, probably one of the best selling volumes of the series).