My mother is the culprit behind my love of mysteries. Her Nancy Drews, Judy Boltons, and various other juvenile mysteries were handed down to me, and I read them voraciously. Naturally, Nancy Drew titles and plots lingered in my mind long after my childhood books had been sent on to another needy family member. Judy Bolton, a girl detective most haven’t heard of, was fondly remembered too. But it took seeing a copy of  a certain book my mother had given me long ago, to turn on the light switch of memory. I saw the title, Mystery at High Hedges and thought, ‘that sounds familiar somehow.” I couldn’t remember the plot or author or anything about it, except a deja vu kind of feeling and eagerness to learn if indeed this was a book I had back then. It had no dust jacket, but then neither would the one I had read as a kid. No synopsis since no jacket, but I took a chance anyway and bought the copy. One night a little time after the purchase, I sat down to see if anything was familiar. Once deep in the pages, the story unfolded and I experienced the same kind of excitement I must have  had when I first cracked open the covers of my mother’s childhood copy. It’s a simple story, nothing elaborate, or scary, or even very mysterious, but for me, it rang true then and and still did.

Marcia Lambert was a stuck up young lady, who thought spending the summer in some rinky dink New Jersey town, the worst thing that could happen. As the story unfolds you learn how lonely Marcia is, and how she’s not really a bad sort. New friends abound, all turns out well, including the little mysteries surrounding a haunted house. 

Several years after finding and rereading the jacketless book, I was attending an antiquarian and collectible book show in a Pennsylvania armory, when my eye caught fantastic artwork on a juvenile title. On closer inspection I realized it was my remembered favorite. In a spectacular jacket. Now the quandary. Do I buy this copy even though I’ve one already?  Of course! Always trade up if possible. A jacketed copy is much more desirable than one without, plus, I mean, look at the bright creepy artwork! $25.00 isn’t extravagant, nor is it particularly cheap. But have it I must. The purchase prompted me to read the book again, since some of the finer points had faded–actually, I could remember as little about the book as I did when I came across it the first time. Even after having read it again  those years ago! However, this time, the opening pages sent a zing to my memory banks and I was able to remember most if not all of the plot–but did that deter me from this third reading? No, another reading spread the warm cozy feeling b0oks of that sort envelope me with. Naturally, I removed the jacket first . No need to destroy that gorgeous cover. I suppose we all have some book from our youth that remains on the edge of our consciousness. Be it a on of the Hardy Boys books, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret of the Old Clock etc. If we’re lucky, we get a second chance, and maybe a third, fourth, fifth to experience the thrill the book gave us when we were young and just starting to become lovers of books.

Mystery At High Hedges

Edith Bishop Smith, 1937, Goldsmith Publishing

Footnote: Wow! I was googling to find out how available this book may be, and I couldn’t believe the number of copies available–and then I realized it had been republished in paperback form! How odd, or not, I suppose. Maybe tons of people liked the book as much as I did! I also found, sob, an ended auction for the ORIGINAL artwork for the book! Eek! I wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway, but still!!!

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2 thoughts on “Rediscovering A Childhood Favorite”

  1. I love to read through a few of my childhood books every so often. The Chronicles of Narnia series for one. I manage to forget enough of it that small portions seem fresh. Unfortunately I have found I’ve outgrown the Hardy Boys. Their dialogs seem hokey although I do like the characters. What I really enjoy is finding a children’s book such as a Tom Swift that I have not read before.

  2. prying1, I loved the Narnia series as a kid, but I don’t know if I would want to re-read them, maybe, I should give it a try. I understand about the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew doesn’t hold up well either, but Judy Bolton is wonderful! She has a social conscience, has friends in all income brackets, doesn’t have a perfect personality, and she grows UP!

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