Ephemera in Books


I stopped in at the library where I always found wonderful donated book that are being given away and I picked up a couple of Happy Hollisters books. Did any of you read them when you were little? We had a huge collection of them and I read them over and over. They were ridiculous in the same way Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden is ridiculous. The books are about a family with five children. The parents don't matter. They only exist in order to provide a backdrop against which the children solve complex mysteries, go on adventures, and generally know more than all the adults. Wonderful stuff when you are 7 or 8.

My parents still have the collection in their basement and I picked these up in case they were missing these. They do all blend together so I wasn't sure. I am not sure why I felt we needed to complete the collection. Most of the grandchildren are way too old to be interested in the adventures of Pete, Pam, Holly, Ricky, and Sue. However, I seemed incapable of leaving them behind. When I got them home my daughter was just as nostalgic as I was and promptly decided to read one. That is when we found that someone had left some papers in it.

Notice the handmade paper dolls with very sixties outfits. There is also a joke paper from Bazooka gum, a postcard from the Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, CT (lots of dinosaur footprints, very cool) and a letter written and then translated from a secret code. It says:

I have decided to write a long letter. I have finished my book report have you. I don't think we should write letters in school do you. Please write back. Love, Cori

I think Cori must have been an absolute sweetheart. She also saved a copy of Helen Keller's obituary from The Hartford Courant of June 2, 1968.  Helen Keller was one of my slightly obsessive interests when I was 8 or 9. I didn't remember that she lived in Connecticut at the time of her death. According to the article, Mark Twain (who also lived in Connecticut when he died. Maybe I should move.)  said: "The two most interesting characters of the 19th century are Napoleon and Helen Keller."

I just Googled The Happy Hollisters because, even in my childhood, they were not very common. None of the libraries I went to had them and I rarely run into anyone that has read them. However, there is now a website devoted to them and they are being reprinted. Not only that, but you can buy a Happy Hollisters T-shirt if you want.

8 comments

  1. What interesting ephemera! I've fairly often come across old book reviews etc in books, which is always lovely. The other day I got a 1990s polling card, which wasn't quite the same!

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    1. Usually, the most I find is a sales receipt or a scrap of paper. This was an interesting bit of the past.

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  2. I read a couple of them when I was a kid, but they did seem rare. How much fun to still have access to them! I'm afraid all my childhood mysteries have moved on...

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    1. I don't know where we got the collection. I just always remember them being there. My parent still have a lot of our childhood books.

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  3. I don't think those books ever reached the UK. What a great haul for you though. I usually just find things like ancient bus tickets or receipts in books.

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    1. Well, I wouldn't call them great literature so I don't think you have missed a lot but they are a nostalgic part of my reading history.

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  4. A nostalgic part of my reading, too. You're right about them being relatively unknown - none of my friends had heard of them or read them. I was one of five kids so I related. ;-)

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    1. They were such fun and so ridiculous. Really, those are the hallmarks of a good children's book!

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