Friday, January 21, 2011

Love, Mystery, and the Love of Mystery by Pattie Tierney

Pattie Tierney of St. Louis, MO, has a passion for travel, dining, photography, and mysteries, and writes about them all. She has published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Personal Journaling Magazine, The Diarist's Journal, and Ink & Ruminations. Her art has appeared in The Rubber Stamper, Signatures: The Art Journal Collection, ATCs: An Anthology of Artist Trading Cards, Somerset Studio and Stamper's Sampler magazines. 

Love, Mystery, and the Love of Mystery
by Pattie Tierney

When Kaye asked me to be a guest blogger, I panicked.  I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say.  I'd already blogged about my love for mysteries, how it came about and has become an integral part of my life on Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare blog (  

I’ve written about my online mystery jewelry shop (  

and my mystery paper goods shop (, what else was there to say about my life and mystery?  And then a miracle occurred; Christmas came, and Nancy Drew showed up.

The story actually begins16 years ago as I was readying to marry for the second time.  I was in the process of selling and packing my 9-room modern house in the country; my intended was packing up his three-story 9-room house in the city. Together we were to converge midway between the two in a 7-room, 100+ year old Victorian with my two boys.  As anyone who's ever moved can tell you, houses hold a LOT of stuff.  My mother volunteered to help with the packing process, and was nothing if not efficient.  She bubbled-wrapped, packed, stored, and boxed twice as quickly as I did.  She organized, tossed, donated, trashed, and arranged for a garage sale, all in her loving efforts to help me every step of the way. Three months later, when the dust had settled, I was married, in a new home, and struggling to find everything.  Little by little items emerged, but when all of the boxes had been emptied and everything organized I sadly found the set of Nancy Drew books that I'd cherished as a child was gone!

An only child, I spent many an afternoon curled up with Nancy, whom I often viewed as my contemporary and best friend.  I ran down the batteries in many a flashlight, reading her adventures while hiding under the sheets of my bed.  So, a loss that may have seemed inconsequential to my mother struck me to the core.

In the years that followed this continued to haunt me.  Once, when visiting my aunt I could have sworn that I saw a set of Nancy Drew books, MY books, on the shelves of her bookcase.  Neither a lover of mysteries, nor a collector of children books I figured I was mistaken and that my obsession was causing me to slowly, but surely, lose my mind.  I’d confided this to my youngest son who listened intently.  Having been surrounded by mystery books and paraphernalia since he was born, having had Sherlock Holmes quoted to him ad nauseam, and having watched hours of Midsomer Murders with me, he knew the significance.

This past November I was similarly tormented while attending a birthday party at the home of my cousin. I saw the books again, this time on her bookshelves.  Therapy! I thought, I need therapy!  None of these people read mysteries.  Neither cares one whit about Nancy Drew.  I told myself to get a grip as I put a double shot of whiskey into my Irish coffee. 

On Christmas morning, my son put a package into my lap.  It was heavy and I just knew it was the Williams-Sonoma pie making machine that I had lusted after one day when we spotted it in the window, and smelled the unmistakable aroma of pie wafting from the store.  It was, and I was delighted.  Then he put another box into my lap.  Again, heavy. So my suspicion was that it was the ingredients needed to make pies.  I opened up the box without giving it much thought and stared down at its contents.  There among the layers of tissue were 7 yellow-spine Nancy Drew books.  MY books.  Nancy had come home!  Tears stung my eyes then as they do now.  The smell of those old books took my breath away.  Suddenly, I was 12 years old and back in the room where I spent so much time solving mysteries with my best friend. I looked at him with love and wonder. 

As it turned out, the books I had been seeing over the years were indeed mine.  My mother, it seemed, without my permission, had sold them to my aunt for a dollar a piece during the purging process of my former house.  Only now will she own up to this.  My aunt, having no particular interest in them, later passed them to her daughter when she had a little girl of her own thinking they might be of use one day.  Andrew, my son, had called my cousin and courageously inquired about the books.  When he learned they were mine he respectfully asked for their return.  The “drop” was made when we all gathered at our house for Thanksgiving.  

I had no words to thank him.  How could I possibly thank someone for returning such a beloved part of my history?

The books are now proudly displayed on the shelves of our living room.  I view them daily and occasionally pick one up and read a chapter or two. No one really knows the impact of their return, but to me it is significant, and for this I will be forever grateful.


Julie Hyzy said...

Oh Pattie! I know your pain, and your joy! I still have every yellow spine Nancy Drew I owned as a child. All, what-54? of them? I should go check the numbers. When they moved to paperback I bought a couple, but gave up. Now I pick up blue bound oldies in antique stores and used book stores. Occasional pink (school library bindings) as well. Love it when they come with dust jackets. But that's rare. I loved Nancy. She *was* my best friend growing up. I'm so happy you have your beloved books back. What a wonderful story!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm so glad you got your Nancys back! I've still got mine and I really treasure them. Hope to share them with my daughter soon. :)

Phyllis said...

I understand both your joy and pain. My copies of Nancy Drew were on bookshelves in my old bedroom at my mother's house. When I went to retrieve them, I discovered that she had kept this room closed to save on heat/air conditioning, the books had mildewed, and she had thrown them all away.

Meredith Cole said...

I'm so glad your collection has finally come home! Your son is a real hero.

lil Gluckstern said...

Oh, the memories! I'm glad you got your books back. One of the first big presents I asked my mom to get my daughter was a complete set of Nancy Drews ca1970. Now her daughter can read them. I just look at the titles and get that old comfy feeling inside. books are amazing things...

Patty said...

Very happy that your books returned home to you, and having a son as a true hero is very cool.

Now, why or why did I just spend over $60.00 as a shop for jewelry? Very sneaky putting that link in the blog. Sigh, a new place to spend money. And I love it.

Diane said...

Loved your post. Nancy Drew books. I bought them for my daughter and now they are on her daughter's bookshelf. They are timeless treasures and thanks for the wonderful story.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Lil's right - "Oh, the memories!"

I have some of my Nancy Drews, and a couple of my Dana Girls, but I'm not sure what happened to the rest (or the covers).

They're downstairs in the guest room, and always find their way into the hands of girlfriends who come to stay. I love that.

Thanks, everyone for stopping by, and Pattie - Thank You! I LOVE this story, and send your adorable son a hug - what a good guy he is!

And if any of you made it through without a visit to Pattie's shops, go back and give yourself a treat!

Janet Rudolph said...

Pattie, I totally understand. Although my mother kept the Nancy Drews (they had been hers, after all), she put my comic book collection in my father's waiting room. He was a pediatrician, and you can imagine the comics went quickly. This was when I was still a child, so the grief and betrayal was magnified. She ended up doing the same with my stuffed animals. But I still have the Nancy Drews and the Judy Boltons. :-) Love your writing style.

Susan (Between Naps On The said...

Pattie, I am so glad you got them back! I totally understand how you felt! I left a reply to your question on the post at my blog...hope you find it. Email me at if you have questions about anything.