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Nancy Drew Rules!

Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are a generation apart, but they share a childhood passion for the girl sleuth. When I was writing a column a couple years ago about my own experience with Nancy Drew, I phoned the Supreme Court’s public information office to see if Justice Ginsburg, who had identified Nancy as an early influence, might be willing to talk. I didn’t expect she would; it was the end of the term, a busy time for the justices, and a rather trivial subject. A few minutes later, my phone rang, with the justice herself on the line. Nancy "was somebody who was doing things," Ginsburg told me. "She was fearless. She was what every girl would like to be."

Reading about Sotomayor when her name came up as a possibility for the court vacancy, I was tickled, but hardly surprised, to see that she, too, was a member of the Nancy Drew fan club. President Obama cited this factoid in announcing Sotomayor’s selection this morning.

It's my understanding that Judge Sotomayor's interest in the law was sparked as a young girl by reading the Nancy Drew series. And that when she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 8, she was informed that people with diabetes can't grow up to be police officers or private investigators like Nancy Drew. In essence she was told she'd have to scale back her dreams.

Actually, I had read that Sotomayor switched allegiance from Nancy Drew to Perry Mason.

Either way, Nancy, as my column attempted to explain, was the first role model for a lot of us out there.

By Ruth Marcus  | May 26, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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I, too, read every Nancy Drew I could coerce my parents into buying. Nancy was smart, logical, confident and, oh yeah, pretty. She had a boyfriend but he didn't get in the way of solving the puzzle. And, please recall, it took two Hardy boys to keep up.

Posted by: disposall | May 26, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I too, read every Nancy Drew. I did extra chores around the house in order to earn money to buy them. I bought 2 a month, until there were no more to buy and then I just read them again. Her mystery solving ability was part of the reason I pursued my Ph.D in history. I'm usually the one with the answer while my male colleagues try unsuccessfully to impress their teacher with their "knowledge"

And I hated the Hardy Boys...

Posted by: bejaermi | May 26, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't really remember how I got my hands on copies of Nancy Drew books, but it could have been a bookmobile. She had actual tips and tricks that anyone could use, like how to speed up your vision acclimation for a dark place. I'm not telling and cannot remember which book it was, but definitely was in there.

Somebody suggested the Bobbsey Twins after I have consumed every available ND. Nope, silly and not worth my time. Hardy Boys were a weak alternative but better than that. A year or two later I discovered a whole row of Judy Bolton mysteries at the Frankfort library. She was ND worthy but older an married to an FBI guy.

And it is definitely the difference in our times that make Nancy a part of our past that our daughters will never see in the same way. For that I am truly thankful. There are places in the world, however, where ND could lead a new generation to independence and pluck. Not bad way to practice reading English either. Just a thought.

Posted by: kelby2552 | May 26, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I just went back and read Ruth's original column on Nancy Drew - yes, Nancy is the new 'normal' for today. Hooray!! I couldn't be happier to read that, and makes the idea of Nancy being outdated bearable.

At 31, perhaps I was catching the tail end of the Nancy-craze when I was a girl. I loved her too, for all the reasons listed, and also hated the Hardy Boys.

I also loved the 'girl-power' she, Bess, and George had together. They truly were supportive friends, and I'm not sure that is portrayed in girls' literature anymore. So much of it seems to be written about girl-on-girl competitiveness and social cliques. Hope I'm wrong about that, though..

Posted by: amc_Seattle | May 26, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

She's not just a role model for girls - I have a 9 year old son who is a die hard fan. He has a slew of the books (old and new school), and also has all the CD-Rom games. I bought him a Hardy Boys book. He said it was "lame". But not a day goes by without at least one chapter from a Nancy Drew novel.

Posted by: seg70 | May 26, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I had a cousin who was my age. We synchronized our Christmas gift lists every year to make sure we did not ask for the same Nancy Drew books. That way we could exchange them.

Posted by: angelas1 | May 26, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, to think that I was hardly alone in my enjoyment of role model, Nancy Drew and how can I forget her ever-mentioned rambler. (I always wondered what kind of car that was?)Long live Nancy Drew and the wonderful joy and courage she presented for millions of American girls who have since gone out to forge their own trails and identities.

Posted by: GerriM | May 27, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I read the Cherry Ames series which was published about the same time and also had a mystery in every story.

Does that count? She was a high-spirited role model. There was also a series with a teenager named Donna somebody who solved mysteries.

Posted by: swissmiss150 | May 27, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Yea, Nancy. I was introduced to her through the movies. Those were light weight but they made me want to read the books. As a young man in the 50s, i was taught that young women would make good housekeepers. Nancy showed that yes, they could AND they could be independant, brave and intelligent. When I had children, 2 boys sandwiched around a girl, i gave all three Nancy Drew books. At least my girl read them. Now i have a grandaughter and grandsons. Nancy has been a part of their reading since they could understand the prose. So, If RB Ginsburg and Sotamayor fashion themselves after Nancy, then they are on MY Supreme Court for sure.

Posted by: jrmart66 | May 30, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

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