Tag Archives: childhood

Exercise…your right to vote

PJ Sharon here, with a slight departure from writing about…well…writing. I will return to regularly scheduled  “writerly” postings next week.

It’s election Tuesday, and I’m proud to say, I voted! Many heartfelt thanks to the fabulous ladies in this picture (courtesy of Wikepedia) who are celebrating their right to vote, a fight that was finally won in 1919 after a centuries old battle.

When I was growing up during the seventies and eighties, my mother was very active in town politics. Even with seven children, she committed herself to making a difference and believed strongly in the power of women to sway the tide. She worked tirelessly on behalf of candidates she believed in and was instrumental in getting more than one State Representative elected with her grass roots efforts. Mom had the tenacity of a bulldog and the enthusiasm of a cheerleader. A well-loved and friendly woman, she had no trouble spreading the word by making phone calls and knocking on doors with her persuasive and sometimes vehement arguments on behalf of a particular candidate. I may not have thought so at the time, but today, I see my mom as the trailblazer and heroine that she was.

For the last five years or so of her life—which was taken all too soon at the age of fifty after a long battle with cancer—she worked as a bulletin clerk at the capitol in Hartford just so she could be close to the action and keep tabs on Connecticut’s political up-and -comers. I remember sitting around our kitchen table with my brothers and sisters stuffing envelopes and making signs. Being included in such important matters at an early age gave me a great appreciation for the political process, and I, like my mother, believe that women have a collective voice that has the power to change the world.

 I consider it both a privilege and a responsibility to exercise the rights that so many before me fought to win. Women, especially, took up the cause for the right to have a voice in a world dominated by men who held the power to make decisions for them without any consideration for how women felt or what they wanted. In response, the Women’s suffrage movement spanned nearly a century, and spread across the globe in the 1800’s and into early nineteen hundreds with many ups and downs before “the vote” was finally won in the US in June of 1919. Through perseverance and suffering, enduring prison and torture, these early American heroines laid down their lives so that today, I could have a voice. With all of the crazy statements and misstatements that have been made in this campaign regarding women’s issues, I am saddened to think that as much as times have changed, some things remain the same. Once again, the rights of women hang in the balance. I hope you will all take some time to look beyond the rhetoric and examine the issues, make an informed decision, and get out and vote today.

What is your earliest memory of politics? Did you learn about it at home or in school?

 (NOTE: Specific political views or inflammatory comments are not appropriate in this venue and negative comments will be removed.  The above opinions are mine alone, and not necessarily those of the Secrets of Seven Scribes as a whole. Please be considerate.)

Did you do Nancy Drew?

Thea Devine here, wondering:   DID YOU DO NANCY DREW?

The Secret of Nancy Drew

When did you discover Nancy Drew? I think I was eight, and an aunt had given me The Quest of the Missing Map. The original edition, with the orange Nancy and her magnifying glass on the cover. And it just rocked my world. Almost immediately, I wanted to write one.

But in my day, Nancy Drew was locked out of the school library. Nancy wasn’t something you read for a book report. Nancy wasn’t literature; Nancy was — what? — trash reading.. A waste of time.

I recently reread the first six or seven books in the series: I’d bought the Applewood reprints of the so-called orange/blue Nancys, the Nancy of the frocks and roadsters and mysterious coincidences, and found them great fun and very much of their time. But did you know that there were earlier editions of Nancy Drew that did not have the orange Nancy and her magnifying glass on the cover?

The Clue of the Missing Nancy

I happened on one in a flea market in Maine — and bought it for ten dollars. I subsequently discovered that the first seven books were originally published with no orange Nancy, blank endpapers and four glossy illustrations inside. I decided to start collecting the orange/blue editions because I’d given my growing-up collection to a cousin, who, of course, passed them on. That was what you did. We weren’t thinking seminal influence back then.

Rereading Nancy Drew as an adult was a blast back to the innocence of childhood, and to the wonder of her adventures and the urgent desire to write a mystery just like Nancy’s. So every week the eight year me bought a pristine tablet with thin blue lines and a brand new pen, and huddled in my dad’s car which was always parked in front of our apartment building in Brooklyn, and started yet another story.

How many of you were influenced to be writers by reading Nancy Drew? Raise your hands. Did the Hidden Staircase scare you half to death? Did you look for clues in your mother’s jewelry box? Did you pretend to be Nancy when you played with your friends?

The Message of Nancy Drew

The impact of a free-spirited self-assured independent mystery-solving teenager with no mother, no constraints, a car of her own, a proud father who gives her free rein, and important mystery solving work to do cannot be underestimated culturally either. My generation saw that any girl — me — could be Nancy Drew, one way or another. Because of her, we became confident. knowledgeable, trustworthy, free to do what we needed to do, and adept at finding solutions. We wanted to be like her. As writers, we became her.

The Whispered Secret

I actually had a mystery in my family — an uncle who disappeared when he was very young, ran away, and never came back. And then, one day when my mom said, your father had an older brother who ran away. They never talk about him, my writer’s ears pricked up.

Talk about ominous and mysterious. Was that not a statement to send Nancy Drew off on a hunt for clues? Those words simmered until, many years later, Dad was reminiscing during a phone conversation, and I heard Mom in the background saying, tell her about your brother.

So Dad told me: This time, the Nancy in me reared up her head; how, I wondered (Nancy would wonder) did you obliterate a family member from its history? I devised a gothic scenario. A brother no one talks about. A jealous homicidal maniac of a brother. An overprotective mother. A conspiracy of secrets. A new bride who’s just a little too curious. Nancy would have been so proud.

The Quest of the Missing Uncle

It took many more years to get that story down. My aunts and uncles were very young when that brother left. The uncle I thought was my dad’s oldest brother was really his stepbrother: my grandfather had been a widower with two children when he married my grandmother..The family never talked about the runaway son. Secrets. Nancy would have reveled in them. Would she have dug deeper and found more truths even after there was no one left who remembered?

The gothic idea is still in play — but as with most ideas, things changed, I eventually reconfigured the whole thing into a wholly different story, and my long-missing unknown uncle morphed into a vampire in “The Darkest Heart” , which I wrote at my desk across from my bookcase which is stuffed once again with old beloved inspiring Nancy Drews.

Did you know people have written about the cultural impact of Nancy Drew? Did you read Nancy Drew? Did the mysteries make you to want to write? Or solve mysteries? Or uncover family secrets?

Thea Devine’s latest release is “The Darkest Heart.”  She’s currently working on the sequel.