Marcia Strykowski

Books of Childhood

When I run out of time, as I often do nowadays, but know I’m long overdue for a post, I think fondly of the books that got my mind and heart into this writing business in the first place. Anybody else remember The Five Little Peppers? Other favorite series from childhood were Donna Parker and The Tuckers. Some of the below books may be repeats from long ago posts, in fact I know they are, but it’s okay with me if it’s okay with you. 🙂
Although the 7-volume Donna Parker series was discontinued in the mid-1970s, it had its share of popularity during the two decades beforehand. Annette, (Funicello), a 5-volume series, was also popular during that time. Both classic mystery series were published by Whitman.

The Tuckers was another favorite series, written by Jo Mendel, and once again, published by Whitman. There must have been a dozen books in this series. For today’s readers, it could possibly be compared to The Penderwicks.

One of my favorite series when I was a young tween was Trixie Belden.

Trixie is the main character in a series of mystery books written between 1948 and 1986. There were 39 volumes and about 16 of them were already available in 1973 (which is when my character, Amy, was reading them). The first six were written by Julie Campbell. After she moved on to other projects, a variety of writers took over the Trixie Belden books under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. Over the past ten years, or so, Random House has reissued most of the series. The books star a girl detective and her best friend Honey. Trixie lives on Crabapple Farm and Honey lives next door in the Manor House estate. The girls form a club called the Bob-Whites with other friends and have many exciting adventures.
The Mary Jane series was written by Clara Ingram Judson (1879-1960). My copy was published in 1921 by Grosset & Dunlap in NY. There’s an inscription inside the book which reads: Betty Lou from Ginnie, Eddie, and David—Christmas 1937. Anybody know Betty Lou?

Jack & Jill by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)—no copyright (perhaps it’s on the missing dust jacket?)—was published by the now defunct Goldsmith Publishing Company in Chicago.

The Secret Stair by Pemberton Ginther, was published in 1932 by Cupples & Leon Company in NY which was founded in 1902 and then acquired by Platt & Munk in 1956. The author Mary Pemberton Ginther (1869-1959) was also a successful artist. My copy was once owned by someone named Rudie Lindgren. I wonder what became of Rudie…
The three green books were published by The Mershon Company, an active publishing house between 1897 and 1906. These books were all written by Laura Lee Hope, a pseudonym used by at least ten authors who wrote many series for children under the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

The Bobbsey Twins has a 1904 copyright and the following inscription: Miss Beth Austin, Elm Street, Salisbury.

One of my Bunny Brown books was owned by a Dorothy Walmsley, who lived on Fairmont Street in Malden, MA in 1935. Many years later I bought her book for fifty cents.

Below are two inside views of Trending Into Maine by Kenneth Roberts. This book was beautifully illustrated by N. C. Wyeth.
The Story of Snips by Angusine Macgregor is my oldest ‘picture book’, copyright circa 1909. I always felt it had a rather homemade look and was therefore very surprised to discover a different version, once owned by Barbara of March House Books. (Barbara’s on a blogging break, but has a boatload of fascinating posts in her archives.) The below 48 page book is 9 1/2″ wide by 7″ high with 23 full page illustrations. Hard back binding is the publisher’s original illustrated grey paper covered boards with a red cloth spine.
Snips was a very naughty mouse, so his parents packed him off to boarding school. When he did not know his lessons, he was made dunce by the strict schoolmasters. 😦 BUT, to give away the happy ending, he escapes and eventually becomes a model mouse!

And there you have some of my favorite old books, still keeping their place on my shelves after all these years.

For more vintage posts, check these two out by clicking on the pictures:

 

 

 

62 Comments

  1. Colleen

    Loved The Five Little Peppers, Annette, and The Bobbsey Twins! Also all of Lousa May Alcott plus so many horse stories-Black Beauty- the Chincoteague series, the Black Stallion series,etc.So many ! Books made my childhood happy! Another really beautiful post, Marcia! Thank you.

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    • Thanks so much, Colleen. I love hearing about your favorite reads during childhood. Series with horses certainly were popular. I hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

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  2. Interesting – although I read lots of series as a child, most of these are unknown to me so presumably didn’t cross the Atlantic. I don’t think I read them, but I do remember Bobbsey Twins books, though I was astonished that they were so old. Thanks to Google I now know that the series ran from 1904 to 1979 so the ones I was remembering were probably written in the 60s.

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    • I hadn’t thought about how very long the Bobbsey Twins series ran–75 years is amazing! I’m glad popular books are much more readily available worldwide now than in years gone by. Thanks for sharing, Anabel!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Louise

    What fun to read of your old books–and how nice that you give credit to their original owners. I’ve never seen that done before, and I like it! I also enjoyed the picture of your bookshelf–what a homey, comfortable feel to that photo with the cosy-looking chair to curl up in when you read. Thanks.
    Louise

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    • I do like to imagine the previous owners of my secondhand books. That chair is comfortable and I do all of my reading (and sometimes writing) there. Hope to see you soon, Louise, and thanks for your comment!

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  4. While I must admit I have never heard of any of these old books, I am intrigued by the illustrations from another time and mindset. I do remember paper dolls though! 🙂 Thank you for another lovely post, Marcia.

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    • It’s interesting how books come and go. Makes you wonder how long some of today’s popular series will stay in print. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lynn!

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  5. Bobbi

    What a collection!! I remember some of these from my own early days a long long time ago, and in a galaxy far far away. Wow!

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  6. I love this post. Donna Parker, Trixie Belden and the BobbseyTwins Twins were all favourites of mine too and certainly influenced my writing.

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  7. Barbara Fisher

    Hello Marcia, sadly I don’t know Betty Lou, but wish I did she sounds like my kind of girl!
    I have seen some of your books before (I believe you shared some of them on my blog) but it’s lovely to see them again and to read more about them. I adore the green covers on Bunny Brown and the Bobbsey Twins; they make me want to delve right in and read the stories. Looking at your copy of The Story of Snips makes me wish I had kept the copy I sold, but then I think that about every book I no longer have. Your chair by the side of the bookshelf looks like the perfect spot for reading.
    I’ve so enjoyed this post-Marcia, the paper dolls and vintage sewing patterns made for a perfect ending.
    I’m still resisting blogging because I know the moment I start again it will take over my life, but I do miss it and all my lovely blogging friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And we miss you, too, Barbara! But, it’s completely understandable, and why I sometimes go so long between posts, too. Between this, and Twitter, and Facebook, and keeping up with other discussions and ‘real’ jobs, it gets overwhelming. Thanks for popping in for a chat!

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  8. Marcia. you are an amazing writer. I love your posts and how you always support your words with the coolest photographs.

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    • Wow, Sharon, that’s so kind of you to say. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post. Thanks!

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  9. I loved many of these books, Marcia. What a wonderful post and walk down memory lane. Thank you!! I’ll be spending time to study these carefully. Your bookshelf looks so inviting. 🙂

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    • Nice to know these titles are familiar to you, Jennie. If I wasn’t a book pack-rat, I wonder if I would have forgotten about some of them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I did forgot about many of them, Marcia. Thank goodness you’re the book pack rat so the rest of us can remember and enjoy. Wonderful!

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  10. I’m so glad you wrote this so I could see all that I missed. Our little town didn’t have a public library until I was older. Back then, the people I knew were not book owners.

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    • I’m sorry to hear you missed out, Anne. I’m not clear on where I got some of these books. I remember an old used bookstore where I could pick out titles for 25 or 50 cents, but I’m wondering if the newer Whitman series might have been offered at the food store. Our town library was way on the other side of town. I feel very fortunate that my parents were interested in books. It’s funny though, I don’t recall reading for pleasure much at all during high school. I think because there was more assigned reading which added up to plenty for me. One thing I know for sure is it’s never too late to read ‘kids’ books, I do all the time!

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      • You are right, Marcia. It’s never too late to read books meant for children. I’d probably like them a lot better than some of the things I have read.

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        • There are so many good ones and they are often much lighter and quicker than adult reads. I tend to save adult fiction for audio books, one way I can get through them. 🙂

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          • Lots of people like audio books. I cannot abide them! I love reading aloud to a receptive audience (one grandchild long ago), but I can’t stand hearing people read to me. Let me have the book and silence to go with it. I’m sure I’m outnumbered. We have relatives who pick out audio books when they take long car trips. That would ruin the trip for me. John and I talk and point out things to each other. If I were mentally involved in a book, I would not see anything out of my window. What a waste that would be! I”m in a minority, I know, but I’m happy with it.

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            • Great points about the downside of audio books. I actually think a lot of people agree with you. I only listen to them when I’m alone in the car, commuting, or picking my daughter up at the train station. It’s surprising how much ‘reading’ I can do on these short trips. I’m usually not able to focus when someone reads aloud, but for some reason, I’m able to follow recorded books…for the most part. Can’t beat car conversations and scenery!

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            • That’s great that you can read via audio books for short trips. What a great way to use those snippets of time! You might laugh when I tell you that I am alone in my car about once a month.

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            • 🙂

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  11. Ashley

    Love this awesome post! Makes me want to go back to a more peaceful time. thanks for sharing!!

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    • Whenever I think of reading for pleasure, I go back to the days before computers and a host of other distractions. Now, when I read, it seems I always have a to-do list niggling at the corners of my mind. 🙂

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  12. My 10-year-old main character of my WIP shares her favorite books from 1950’s,many of which you mentioned. Her pen pal in Canada read the Canadian Book of the Year, A Train for Tiger Lily. Do you know this 1956 book? Beth Schmelzer

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    • No, I’m not familiar with Train for Tiger Lily (until I just looked it up). Your WIP sounds right up my alley–best of luck with it!

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  13. A great line up, Marcia. I’m shocked that I’m not familiar with any of these books! This post did make me want to go back to my bookcase and browse some of my own memories, though. Lovely post. 🙂

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    • It seems most of my series books were published by Whitman. Perhaps they pushed their titles more in certain parts of the country or during certain years, making them unfamiliar to many. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I remember some of these–FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS, TRIXIE BELDEN, and THE BOBBSEY TWINS. You don’t see these as much anymore. It was a rare moment when one of my students (I teach 4th grade) was reading a NANCY DREW MYSTERY–one of the original ones that I used to have.

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    • At my library it seems NANCY DREW and the HARDY BOYS are making a bit of a comeback. Not only were they reissued, but every once in a while a kid will go through one of these series. 4th grade is a great age for books!

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  15. I’m impressed that you’ve held onto those books over the years. I have a few from my childhood, but most only reside in my memories.

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    • I’m glad I held onto my books, even my kids enjoyed reading many of them, and now I get to blog about them, too. 🙂 I’m glad you saved a few yourself, Tracy!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a fun collection of books and I love your library and especially the trumpet lamp. All of your knick knacks on the top look they each may have a story to tell.

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    • Hi Sharon, that sounds like a fun idea for another post: knick-knack stories. 🙂 I have no idea where I got the lamp with the horn, though, so no story there!

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  17. robbiecheadle

    This is such an interesting post, Marcia. I have not heard of many of these books but I am going to look them up. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I guess these titles must be rather exclusive to the USA which explains why they are new to some of you. Thanks for your interest, Robbie! 🙂

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  18. Bette Norton

    Your post brought back many memories of my childhood years curled up in a chair reading the hours away! I loved the Bobbsey Twins and read all of the Nancy Drew books and many more! What a treat to own a picture book from 1909. The Story of Snips looks delightful!
    I have some very old classics that belonged to my mother in law that I treasure. Books have always been a special part of my life, where you can escape from your “to do list” and life’s busyness and just enjoy the story. I am a huge fan of reading children’s books especially picture books with lovely illustrations often done in watercolor! As always your posts are so beautifully done with great pictures to compliment your post. Thank you for reminding me of when my love for reading began, in my childhood when life ran a little slower and simpler! 🙂

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    • Remembering our reading days of long ago almost seems like a whole different lifetime, doesn’t it? I’m glad the post brought back happy memories for you and think it’s wonderful that you still enjoy reading children’s books! 🙂

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  19. I remember so many of these books myself and enjoyed seeing the old covers–I had the exact same Trixie Beldon books. Also loved the Annette F. series and the Bobbsey twins. I’d also add The Happy Hollisters series to this list!

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    • Oh, that rings a bell, I’m pretty sure I remember The Happy Hollisters, too. I just looked them up online—all 33 books in the series were written by the same author and he based the characters on his real family. Thanks so much for sharing this blast from the past!

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      • My favorite: Happy Hollisters & the Mystery of the Golden Witch! You might also like All-of-a-kind family series by Sidney Taylor, about little girls living on NY’s Lower East Side pre WWI. (I read a lot of kids’ books, too–good for the soul!)

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  20. mirkabreen

    Not sure why, but visual vintage images hit one so much more directly on the nostalgic bone than even words do. I’ve made a point, with a group of women kidlit readers, to re-visit old classics and see how they hold up. They don’t always. But it is certainly a sentimental reverberation.

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    • True, many old classics might not have been published if judged by today’s standards, even though those cookie-cutter characters and simple formula-style plots with their anticipated happy endings somehow brought comfort to a generation of kids. I enjoy revisiting the old book cover illustrations. 🙂

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  21. Beautiful post Marcia!! So cool that you have all these vintage books on your shelf!! I remember reading Trixie Belden and The Bobbsey Twins! I have a few green cover Bobbsey Twin books that were my aunt’s. But I love the Snip book most of all!! Such charming illustrations!! Fun to see your bookshelves– we have little momentos tucked in with our children’s books too. Your’s looks like such a cozy place to read! Fun fun post Marcia! hugs from here!

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    • Thanks, Rhonda, glad you liked the post and got to meet Snips. I’ve got your flourless chocolate cake on my to-bake list! 🙂

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      • Hi Marcia– I treasure the little shelf of old books I have from my Dad and Aunt. I have a grand-girl who is such a reader and I’ll pass them on to her… (and hope you like the cake!) hugs Marcia!

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  22. This post brings back wonderful memories of reading the Trixie Belden books when I was in junior high. It makes me want to try to find one or two of them, and read them again as an adult.

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    • Great! I hope you’ll find a couple through your library system. Some of the older versions have also been released as eBooks. Fun to discover another Trixie fan!

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      • I was also thinking that they are the type of book that might show up at our library’s book sale where they sell used books that people have donated to the library or even at garage sales.

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  23. Marcia, this is such a full post of joy, it’s like Christmas. I had no idea about the Annette books, and I love your little book on Snips. I’m very excited because I also have Louisa May Alcott’s book Jack and Jill. Yours must be quite a bit older. Mine has a blue-green cover, is dated 1922, and published by Ryerson Press Toronto. Such precious books, and I love seeing your bookshelves!

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    • How fun that we both have a copy of Jack and Jill! I just did a quick search and there seem to be many different editions and publishers from around that same time. The Chicago Goldsmith company was only during the 1930’s according to one source, so your book might be about ten years older than mine. Thanks for your visit, glad you enjoyed the post!

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