Saturday, December 30, 2023

Nancy Drew Books 1-7 First Printings Signed by Mildred Wirt Benson

When I got into Nancy Drew collecting back in the late 1990s, my main motivation was to read the books of my childhood again. That meant, I needed to fill in gaps! I'd discovered a 1930s Nancy Drew book - The Hidden Staircase - in an antique mall and I had no idea Nancy Drew had gone back that far in time. When I was reading them, they were the yellow spine picture cover editions and more modern paperbacks and spinoffs. My books were the revised texts for the first 34 books. I had no idea there was an original text version. I also read a lot of my books from the school library and so had gaps in what friends had given me as gifts or the many books my Mom got for me at Waldenbooks and other bookstores.

So, my mission was to fill in gaps and read them all again. I got all my childhood books from home and I went to area used bookstores and antique malls in search of missing ones. Then in 1997, I joined eBay and the world of Nancy Drew books and collectibles was open wide for me. I spent over 20 years amassing a collection of books, paper ephemera and collectibles when I donated a few thousand items to the Toledo Public Library in 2019. Books of all types, formats and styles. 

One thing early on that piqued my interest was collecting first printings of each of the books. When I first got my books from my childhood home and brought them to Texas where I was living around 1997, I went through them trying to figure out what printings they might be. I put these post-its inside with "circa x year" printing on them. I thought to check lists on back or inside to see what the last book listed was and when it was first printed and that gave me a ballpark date. I could also see how many of mine were not even close to being any kind of first. My yellow spines had mostly double oval endpapers and were early to mid-80s printings. My paperbacks, however, I was buying as they came out so mostly those were first printings of those from #57 onward and spinoff Files books, etc. 

I met other collectors who showed me the ropes on firsts and some sellers would list and describe them as firsts on eBay and I became interested in getting firsts of each classic book 1-56, so began over 20 years to add those to my collection. I was on a budget for most of my collecting over the over 20 years, so always looked for a bargain or a good buy it now book. I resigned myself to the fact that I would most likely never afford a first printing of the first seven books in their original 1930-1932 format - at least not for the foreseeable future. I found a first of The Secret of the Old Clock early on in the late 1990s without a dust jacket as is often the case with these early books and bought that at eBay. I took that book to Toledo, OH in the spring of 2001 when I met the original ghostwriter, Mildred Wirt Benson, who was still alive in her mid-90s and working at the Toledo Blade newspaper. She signed that book for me, and it was and continues to be a treasure. Soon after, someone e-mailed me to offer me a first of Hidden Staircase and I jumped at the chance as the price was very low, the book arrived in good shape and was a verified first. It would be another 20 years nearly before I would be able to purchase another, The Secret at Shadow Ranch. At that point I managed several years ago to find a 2nd printing of The Secret of Red Gate Farm - the dust jacket matches that of a first but the book was a 2nd printing. Last year I managed to acquire the book in a first to match to the dust jacket and that was a thrill. But that left The Bungalow Mystery, The Mystery at Lilac Inn, and The Clue in the Diary to find someday. 

Even in recent years I had resigned myself that I might not find the rest in a first with dust jacket or at least afford them. A collector began to downsize her collection and she had firsts of books 2-7 - not only that, but they were also signed by Mildred Wirt Benson! An opportunity presented itself to purchase these and so over the last year I did just that. It really is a collecting mission accomplished but with a wild ending - I had no idea I'd ever be able to get signed first printings by Millie, so to be able to bring these home into my collection, was rather surreal. I'm enjoying them so much as they sit on a shelf by my writing desk as I research and write The Real Nancy Drew - my Mildred Wirt Benson Biography.

I do have first printings of Hidden Staircase, Shadow Ranch and Red Gate Farm for sale at our Nancy Drew Fans Shop - ones I upgraded with the signed copies if anyone's interested in acquiring first printings in DJ!

Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Nancy Drew Cookbook – Fifty Years of Clues to Good Cooking

The Nancy Drew Cookbook:

Fifty Years of Clues to Good Cooking

Nancy Drew, intrepid sleuth, always up for a bold and daring adventure. Dark alleys. Musty old attics. Skeletons popping out of wardrobes. Bound and gagged and locked in closets. Kidnappings. Threats to stay off the case, OR ELSE! Or else, what? Kitchen conundrums and measuring tips? Possibly exciting for those of us who like to cook and whip up some tasty treat, but for Nancy Drew and some of her fans, that must have been a bit…deflating all considered. 

Nancy had Hannah Gruen – master baker – who could whip up the most calorie-laden snacks at the drop of a hat. Comfort food after a midnight stakeout or Drew home burglary appeared with a flourish! Cocoa, cookies, pies, cakes, oh the bane of poor Bess Marvin’s constant diet plan. However, with a little Sleuthercize, they mostly all stayed “slim and attractive.” 

In 1973, on to the market came not one of Nancy’s most exciting mysteries. Not one of her more baffling puzzlers. No, it was The Nancy Drew Cookbook – Clues to Good Cooking. Nancy was serving up some recipes for brunch, lunch, dinner, even picnics – all categorized by time of day. Then there were holiday recipes and international delights. Giveaway treats too. Every section had tips for the young cook like tasty substitutions, tangy twists, and the saucy “tart touch.” The introduction commanded readers to come up with a “mystery ingredient” of their own.

I did not originally own this cookbook as I was born in 1973, the year it came out. I eventually collected it as an adult when I transitioned into a full-blown collector of all things Nancy Drew. I proceeded to roast it a bit in a section of my Nancy Drew Sleuth website as some of the recipes definitely have some sinister ingredients! Some recipes are not too bad and have turned out to be pretty yummy. The Nancy Drew Sleuths have had several occasions to test recipes and try them out. The cookbook was even re-released by Penguin in 2007 with an updated look. I have acquired several Nancy Drew Cookbooks signed by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams as Carolyn Keene. They are definitely treasures and she would even put in cute quips with her inscriptions like “Here’s to good cookin’!”

As a nostalgia piece, it’s kitschy though the cover is not very mysterious in the typical Nancy Drew vein. Throughout the cookbook there are many line drawings of various food items to illustrate the recipes which are named after characters or mysteries that Nancy solved. What’s lacking are recipes based on foods from the books themselves which would have made for a more interesting tie-in to the books.

How was this cookbook received by fans? It was marketed to kids in the usual age set of the Nancy Drew mysteries. Grosset & Dunlap advertised on the backs of the regular Nancy Drew Mystery Stories editions with a stylized cookbook ad. Order forms inside the book afforded each reader the opportunity to send off for it among other books in the series. But what about older fans and their reception? My guess is the more critical reception likely came from older fans of the books, who might have felt that this was rather out of character for their heroine Nancy Drew. To be fair, Nancy did do some cooking in the Nancy Drew series on her own – assisting Hannah from time to time and even making a fabulous walnut-studded chocolate cake in the revision of The Secret of Shadow Ranch, though this revision was from the 1960s. The original Nancy Drew – who broke the mold thanks to ghostwriter Mildred Wirt Benson in the 1930s and 1940s – wasn’t generally in the kitchen. She was out rounding up crooks and having adventures. Throughout the classic series between 1930 to 1973 when the cookbook debuted, generally speaking, cooking wouldn’t have been considered Nancy Drew’s signature skill. It wasn’t her cooking skills that had inspired generations of fans to do so much more in their lives. Reviews in newspapers ran the gamut from generic reviews to more critical askance and puzzlement over this new direction. Some brought up feminism and bemoaned Nancy’s fate. The Hardy Boys had their own Detective Handbook – published in 1959. Where was Nancy Drew’s Girl Detective Handbook?  

Why a Nancy Drew Cookbook? That’s the real puzzler. It's the historical background behind items like this cookbook that are always fascinating to me and how these kinds of projects came about and the Stratemeyer Syndicate files at the New York Public Library reveal some clues. What we can learn about this Nancy Drew Cookbook is rather interesting. Did this come from the Stratemeyer Syndicate – Harriet to be exact? Like Nancy Drew, Harriet was not really known for her cooking skills. In fact, one contribution she did make to the cookbook was A Keene Soup – a peanut butter based soup. She is said to have “horrified” her personal chef with her foray into the kitchen to come up with the recipe. So, who was behind this project and how did it come to fruition?

Grosset & Dunlap had apparently been throwing around the idea of doing a Nancy Drew Cookbook - likely using the Nancy Drew name and brand to sell something novel, much like the Nancy Drew “Favorite Classic” volumes they put out using Nancy Drew as a selling point to market various classic literature tales. By the summer of 1970, Harriet noted in an August 26 letter to her sister Edna Squier, that “the idea has been pro and con for some time but now Grosset & Dunlap are planning to go ahead with the project.”

Everyone always loves a good Carolyn Keene unmasking. It turns out, that the ghost behind this cookbook was a woman named Patsy Bogle. By November 1970, a memo between Harriet and partner Andrew Svenson discusses a meeting with Bogle that Harriet had. We find out that Bogle was a cook book editor for Fuller and Dees, who among other business ventures, sold cookbooks. Harriet notes in the memo, "I met with Patsy Bogle, Cook Book Editor for Fuller and Dees and had a most enlightening conversation with her. This is the information I gleaned: A loose leaf cook book would be 100% better than the regular story-book binding. Mrs. Bogle foresees a general cook book to be followed by one on cookies and candies, then perhaps on other specialties.” Bogle had quite a vision for Nancy Drew – one that didn’t pan out past this cookbook. Bogle had been an avid reader of Nancy Drew as a child. Harriet added, “Mrs. Bogle thinks a Nancy Drew Cook Book could be great."  Bogle’s price for doing it? She'd charge $1,000.00 for 200 recipes in children's language to be edited by the Syndicate instead of the publisher. Bogle signed a release on November 20, 1971 for providing the recipes and content, for the consideration and payment of $1 and other “considerations” – she had provided 104 recipes. Harriet had taken up Bogle’s suggestion that the cookbook be a spiral bound one and urged Grosset & Dunlap to do that. Of course, as we’ve seen, the cookbook was bound like the regular Nancy Drew books.

By 1971 they had a full green light on the cookbook as Grosset & Dunlap were asking for twenty sample pages before giving a final go-ahead. In a September 28, 1972 letter from David Lande, Vice President, and Director of Marketing at Grosset & Dunlap, he told Harriet very enthusiastically that “I think this can be a real winner and we are very enthusiastic about the sales possibilities.”

Aside from these and other perfunctory back and forth communications on the cookbook, there was quite a storm brewing. While kids and their families were learning clues to good cooking and noshing on 99 Steps French Toast and Old Clock Ice Cream Pie, the shenanigans behind the scenes were about as sinister and stinky as the Tolling Bell Tuna Rolls. About as flimsy as those Leaning Chimney Cones

By 1973 when the Nancy Drew Cookbook was published, Harriet had some rather unflattering things to say about it. In a March 28, 1973 letter to Grosset & Dunlap President Harold Roth, she noted, that she was relieved to know that changes would be made to the cookbook for the second edition and that she was “ashamed of the first edition." She had planned to give many as gifts to friends but because she was ashamed, she couldn’t bear to do that.

Then she really let him know how she felt. "The book is a disaster and unworthy of being a companion to the Nancy Drew series. The fault rests with the Art department and the layout person. From the beginning I was disappointed with the picture situation. I did not want sticks of butter or disproportionate milk cartons but sketches with some originality and cute quips, some of which we supplied but they were brushed off.” She refers to comments being sent into the Syndicate – likely from readers and journalists lambasting it in various articles that were coming out - and includes some examples with her letter, telling Roth to “read them and weep” as she has been doing. "My dream of a ND super duper cookbook ended in a rude awakening." I’m picturing Sally in the It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown special after she’d been cheated out of tricks or treats and like Sally, Harriet was a woman scorned and on the warpath with her pen. Harriet definitely felt cheated, the cookbook was not what she felt like she’d been promised.

Still on a roll with Grosset & Dunlap, Harriet sent a zinger off to the art department at Grosset & Dunlap in an April 25, 1973 letter to Kay Ward. She pointedly asked, “I am wondering why the art work on the Nancy Drew series has been deteriorating in the past couple of years. It seems to me that Grosset & Dunlap would want the best selling juveniles to have superior, not inferior pictures." To Harriet, and frankly the rest of us really, the book illustration figures of this time period looked more like “fashion manikins than live people” and are “expressionless.” Rarely are any Syndicate suggestions followed, she noted. "You have heard how aghast I was at the sketches in the Nancy Drew Cookbook. Having been promised by Mr. Paturzo and yourself that the pictures would be original and whimsical…it was an added shock to see the cookbook with mundane flour sifters and egg boxes which any third grader could have drawn." 

She noted that editor Doris Dunewald had said the second edition would be “greatly improved” and she hoped it would be “a far better looking one than the original.” She felt complaining was regrettable, but it was necessary.

So how did the second edition fare? Unfortunately, not so great. A comparison of the first and second editions shows some spacing differences in layout, some titles or chapter names being moved around or disappearing and then the exact same pictures – those not-so-whimsically third-grade level flour sifters, egg boxes, milk cartons and more just appearing and disappearing in various places as if they were playing musical chairs. Nothing whimsical about it whatsoever. It was as if the much-maligned art department at Grosset & Dunlap just wanted to sneak into Harriet’s home and “short-sheet” her bed, move her furniture around and gaslight her. Figuratively of course, just a test of wills in the cookbook instead. Whether Harriet was pleased with these…efforts…or not, we don’t know for sure, but I imagine it rankled her quite well. Did she deign to give out the second edition to any family or friends? Another mystery to be solved…

Aside from this drama with the layout and images and what was promised but not delivered, how does this cookbook fit overall logically with being related to an infamous mystery loving, adventuresome sleuth who trailblazed her way through generations, doing the opposite of the usual norm for women, especially back in the 30s and 40s? Does it align more with the nesting and domesticity of the 50s housewife? How does it sit with all the second-wave feminists in the 60s and 70s who claimed Nancy as a standard bearer? 

A reviewer for the August 3, 1973 Daily News, Georgia Smith, gave her intriguing opinion in “Nancy Drew, Detective, Moves into the Kitchen.” She interviewed Harriet for this piece and noted, “Instead of cracking secret codes, our plucky girl…has been reduced to cracking eggs and stirring up things like ‘Sleuth Soup’ and ‘Hidden Biscuits.’” She was a little disappointed to see Nancy Drew being so…domestic. Harriet credited publisher Grosset & Dunlap with the cookbook idea. Harriet stated that the recipes were developed in consultation with three of her 11 grandchildren at home on her “cow farm.” I’m not sure if Patsy Bogle was an “honorary” grandchild in her version of the story, but to be fair, Harriet was in keeping with the usual story about her being Carolyn Keene, I suppose. Harriet also thought the cookbook was “dandy.” Publicly, Harriet was very praiseworthy and the perfect cheerleader, even though behind the scenes, things were not so grand.

Even Eric Svenson, youngest son of Syndicate partner Andrew Svenson who ran bookstores in the Carolinas, wrote to the Syndicate on April 30th of 1973, a little dismayed about the cookbook. He noted, "I think the Nancy Drew Cookbook is a cute idea and we are selling them here in Charlotte. But I also think, from women's liberation point of view that we may be relegating the famous girl detective to the kitchen. I feel that a better selling book would be a Nancy Drew Detective Handbook type of project." He even suggested a title for it, "How to Become a Girl Detective."

Eventually of course Nancy Drew had her own sleuthing book, aptly named The Nancy Drew Sleuth Book: Clues to Good Sleuthing, published 6 years after the Nancy Drew Cookbook debuted. In it, Nancy Drew forms her own Detective Club of girl detectives in her circle of friends. They learn all sorts of good sleuthing tips from fingerprints to identifications, to palm prints and even palmistry and solve mysteries on various subjects in each chapter.

As a cook and someone who likes good cooking, I find the cookbook to be charming and retro and some of the recipes have turned out to be quite good. I think some of the fuss over Nancy Drew having a cookbook was a little dramatic, because mystery or no mystery, a family must eat – so says Hannah Gruen! But I suppose considering the trailblazing Nancy Drew had done for decades, considering her talents at mystery solving and how much she inspired kids and was a role model for self-reliance and forging one’s own path out in the world and getting things done, having saddled her with a cookbook, rather than a Sleuth Book could be seen as relegating her to the kitchen, as Svenson put it. I think though, that kids should learn to cook and those kinds of skills are very important as we grow up. Perhaps Nancy Drew wasn’t the one who should have been used to help kids forge those skills. But you have to wonder, as much of an inspiration as Nancy Drew was to her fans, did she inspire others in the kitchen to solve recipe mysteries with all her clues to good cooking? I suppose it’s not a huge stretch to think she might have. After all, one of her famous fans, Martha Stewart, went on to make cooking and domesticity a trendy artform.

Resources used:

The Nancy Drew Cookbook: Clues to Good Cooking
New York Public Library: Stratemeyer Syndicate Archives.
James Keeline – research and documents in his collection and image of Patsy Bogle.

Are you Game to get Clues to Good Cooking? 

As we celebrate the close of 2023, here’s a good holiday recipe from the Nancy Drew Cookbook. Hang up your magnifying glass, hop in the kitchen, kick off your shoes and make someone the Haunted Bridge Log on page 102. It’s delicious, and the hint about mint, it’s a keeper!


1 package chocolate wafers (round type for icebox cake)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
Green food coloring


Whip cream until it forms peaks. Fold in sugar, vanilla, and a few drops of green food coloring.

Stack 3 or 4 wafers together at a time, putting a teaspoonful of green whipped cream between each one. Save one wafer for later. Place the stack sideways on a dish to form a log. Cover the log with the rest of the cream.

Crumble the wafer you have saved and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Cut diagonally at a 45 degree angle.

Serves 10.

A Mint Help:

Add a teaspoon of mint extract to the cream while whipping.

Monday, December 11, 2023

A Merry Super Sleuths! Christmas from Harriet Stratemeyer Adams

Happy 131st Birthday to Harriet Stratemeyer Adams!

Harriet Stratemeyer Adams was born in the late 1800s - 1892 to be exact, on December 12 and we're still reminiscing about her in 2023! Her charm and wit, stubbornness and Nancy Drew Sleuth-ability - kept her father, Edward Stratemeyer's company - The Stratmeyer Syndicate - going for decades after his death in 1930. As we remember Harriet today for her birthday, let's also think about her this Christmas season! 

The Dec. 16, 1980 issue of Family Circle magazine featured a story written by her as "Carolyn Keene" - "Solve a Christmas Mystery." In it, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys solved a fun Christmas Mystery, and this story was later published in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Sleuths! paperback as the short story, "The Secret of Mountaintop Inn."

If you don't have this Super Sleuths! volume, you can find a copy of it on a site like eBay. If you're on the Nancy Drew Book Fans Facebook Group, you can search the posts for "family circle" to see scans of the story from Family Circle that James Keeline posted. One is shown below. Click on the image for a larger view.

The "Solve a Christmas Mystery" begins with this paragraph introducing it, "Here's a special Christmas story that everyone who has ever read the well-known Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books will love. It was written especially for FAMILY CIRCLE by Harriet Adams (her pen name is Carolyn Keene) who has been writing these series for fifty years."

The story begins in a blizzard where Nancy's friend Karen is driving them to "Mountain Top Inn." The Hardy Boys are to be there as well and then they get entangled together in solving a mystery. In the end, mystery wrapped up and order restored, they celebrate by singing Christmas Carols and Nancy says, "A Merry, Merry Christmas to you all!"

I'll also think fondly of Harriet today on her birthday as I recently solved a fantastic behind-the-scenes mystery in Cooperstown, NY of why Harriet and her family had a connection to the town and what led her to write the 49th classic Nancy Drew mystery book, The Secret of Mirror Bay and set it in the town of Cooperstown. One of my better sleuthing efforts in searching out Nancy Drew's history behind the mystery! If you didn't get a chance to hear about all of our sleuthing and adventures behind the scenes, check out my blog post on that adventure:

The Secret of Mirror Bay - The Secrets & History Behind the Mystery

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Nancy Drew CW TV Show Memorabilia in The Jennifer Fisher Nancy Drew Collection

Nancy Drew debuted on the CW Network in fall of 2019 and then ran for 4 seasons. In the last year or so, items from the show were sold off to various sellers including crew merchandise, props, scripts, various paperwork for scenes/prop/set/blueprints/etc. There were dozens of auctions over time from at least two sellers that included things like decor pieces from The Claw restaurant, uniforms, aprons, signs, photos, books and you name it. Even jewelry pieces. 

I bid on a few things (pictured in this blog) that were available but tried to approach it with an eye to history/behind the scenes production items to tell the story behind the scenes for my Jennifer Fisher Nancy Drew Collection that now resides at the Toledo Public Library, downtown main library in The Mystery Room. In addition to items in these auctions, since 2019, I have acquired promo items like posters, pop sockets, coasters, flashlights, t-shirts, a Halloween costume, the DVDs of each season, a crew backpack, a crew hat and more - you can view all of my CW Nancy Drew TV memorabilia at my CW Nancy Drew TV Show Pinterest Board.   

From these specific auctions, I purchased several scripts, scene paperwork, vintage Nancy Drew books used for reference and as a book prop (Red Gate Farm), a photo of Nancy with her parents, and a crew bag w/ the CW Nancy Drew logo on it. Since I'm a Nancy Drew book collector, it made sense to collect some of the books used. 

I'm going to make a post at our Nancy Drew Book Fans Facebook group about my acquisitions and see what everyone else got in the auctions - always fun to see everyone's goodies.


Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Cracker Jack Halloween Set Mystery

Happy Halloween from Cracker Jack! This neat gift set featuring Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow book came out circa the mid-late 1980s. It appears to be pretty scarce for several reasons I'll detail momentarily. I first discovered it several years ago on eBay, and a friend was bidding on it, so I deferred, though I don't believe they won the set. I was determined to find the set and set up an eBay search alert. Another set - not the same as the one that sold several years ago - came up for sale several weeks ago and was snapped up quick and then resold to me. I do not know who won the set from several years ago, no one in the series book community has posted as to having it in their collection.

The set from several years ago - see last 3 images in this blog - featured the Sleepy Hollow book plus Nancy Drew Ghost Stories and then the Hardy Boys book #63, The Mummy Case featuring a later cover art that came out around 1987. My best guess, therefore, is that these sets date to around 1987 or 1988 possibly. My set, featuring the first four images of this blog, has the Hardy Boys Ghost Stories instead of Mummy Case along with the same two Nancy Drew/Sleepy Hollow books from the other set.

Some clues about both sets - the packaging is identical. The number on the back - CJ 55 is the same on both. They appeared to be possibly box sets online, but there is no full box - it's only a thick paper/cardstock fold over with images of the Cracker Jack sailor boy/dog/pumpkin and cat and the ghost/etc. So, the bottom, top and the spines of the books are all uncovered. Sleepy Hollow is sandwiched in between the other two books. Both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew ghost stories are not Wanderer imprints, they are Minstrel imprints further adding clues to the likely date of around 1987 or 1988 since Minstrel came after Wanderer. I do not know if there's possibly any paperwork or advertising inside this set since it's shrink-wrapped and I prefer to keep it that way so it's minty as it came. Following in Nancy Drew's footsteps, in looking inside with a flashlight and magnifying glass all around, I do not see any other inserts or pieces of paper unless they are underneath the fold over and can't been seen.

I'd never heard a word from any other Nancy Drew collectors ever about this set before, nor any Hardy Boys collectors, so I decided to reach out to a Cracker Jack expert, one expert to another ;-) I found Alex Jaramillo, who has published a guide titled Cracker Jack Prizes, and he was very kind enough to reply back with a little bit of information that was helpful in understanding what this might be. 

He wrote that this was likely a regional promotion, which would explain why he didn't ever know about it and so few seem to turn up. Since the books vary as to the Hardy Boys in both sets, it's possible it was in several regional areas. More than likely kids would have opened this up and the Cracker Jack fold over wrapper would have been discarded. Sometimes Cracker Jack would do seasonal or baseball promotions like this and sometimes they would be regionally offered. So that could explain very easily the scarcity of this item.

My next goal is to find out how they were advertised - possibly on boxes in stores or perhaps in some kind of publication as advertising. Since I like to collect to tell the story and find all the puzzle pieces involved, finding the original advertising or a box featuring the promo would be fantastic, so everyone BOLO! If you have seen this before, have one of these, or have seen the advertising, please e-mail me with more details and clues at

UPDATE: See image above, a fellow collector, Scott, found this ad in a search - it doesn't appear to be for this full set of 3 books, you could just order the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys ghost story books individually and there was a Monsters book rather than the Sleepy Hollow book, this ad running in 1988. So, perhaps the ad for my set and the first set was run around 1987 or sometime soon after where a whole set could be acquired. But we're on the right track to finding the actual advertising! Very excited to see what else turns up!

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

The Secret of Mirror Bay - The Secrets & History Behind the Mystery

The Secret of Mirror Bay

Click on the images in this article for a larger view...

If you want to know the real secret of "Mirror Bay" aka Otsego Lake, it’s not about mysterious mountain sorcerers, fireflies, or poisonous centipedes. It is, however, about how Harriet Stratemeyer Adams came to visit Cooperstown in the summer of 1971. She was there to do research for book #49 in the classic Nancy Drew Mystery Stories Series, The Secret of Mirror Bay, which she wrote. It was published in 1972. Harriet was head of The Stratemeyer Syndicate, the company behind Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys among other popular series.

In Mirror Bay, as the book’s synopsis reads, “Aunt Eloise Drew invites Nancy and her friends to Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee cabin near Cooperstown, New York, for a visit and a chance to solve the mystery of the woman who glides across the water. Upon their arrival Nancy becomes mixed up in a vacation hoax because she resembles the young woman involved, and is nearly arrested for fraud. On the wooded mountain near the cabin further exciting events await Nancy and the other girls. There, in the deep forest, a weird luminescent green sorcerer appears who threatens to cast an evil spell on anyone investigating his strange activities. In a dangerous twist of circumstances Nancy finds that solving one mystery helps to solve another. What happens when the young detective and her friends uncover a cleverly concealed criminal operation makes thrilling reading.” In the New York Public Library’s Stratemeyer Syndicate archives there are quite a few documents and letters back and forth between the Syndicate and Nancy Drew publisher Grosset & Dunlap on the creation of this published book synopsis.

Nancy brings along her pals Bess and George and they meet up with Aunt Eloise and the shenanigans start off right as they arrive in Cooperstown – two mysteries! Local characters Miss Armitage and Yo are introduced as well as the host of villains who try to thwart Nancy when she gets too close to their secret hideout on the mountain. Villain Sam the Green Man is the one who dresses up to scare people. One of these crooks is Doria Sampler Hornsby who happens to look similar to Nancy, except she has a harder looking face. However, people tend to mistake Nancy for her and think Nancy’s up to no good until corrected. Johann “Yo” Bradley is a local youth who knows the ins and outs of Cooperstown and is always ready to help Nancy with her mystery solving and even comes to her rescue several times. Yo likes to tell tall tales and refers to Cooperstown as “Ghost Country.” Miss Armitage has ancestors who buried a Russian child’s coach in Otsego Lake which she is trying to find using stilts in the water. 

The book is similar to a 1970s style Scooby Doo mystery in part with the sorcerer and his costumes the villains “haunt” the mountain with, the strange vacation hoax, the poisonous centipedes, the luminescent mushrooms, the visits to all the area attractions, and the discovery of rogue scientists doing experiments in a secret underground lab in the mountain, which all work together to make this a rather interesting and zany Nancy Drew mystery. Mirror Bay does provide a great travelogue style story in that Nancy and her friends travel around to the local haunts and you get a real flair for the Village of Cooperstown.

As always, when I pick a real-life location where one of the Nancy Drew books is set so that fans can follow in Nancy Drew’s footsteps and bring the book to life at one of our Nancy Drew Conventions, I dive in and research and sleuth for clues. Basically, I get to play Nancy Drew, but it’s a much safer version of sleuthing without the chloroforming, head knockouts and villain foibles thrown my way that Nancy often experienced. No threats to stay off the case or else! No Cooperstown green sorcerer trying to steal our thunder. In planning these conventions for over twenty years, I often find some really neat real-life answers to the Nancy Drew book mysteries of our youth. Sometimes though, things remain the stuff of mystery, which may be fitting as this is Nancy Drew, after all.  

I grab my magnifying glass, hop in my proverbial roadster, and delve into the mystery like Nancy. I re-read Mirror Bay, taking meticulous notes, made a list of real-life places in the book and other things that happened or were interesting clues or what seemed like possible real-life things and turned to Google. Looking up places on Google, terminology used in the book, and using Google Maps helped to build the logistics and lay the groundwork for our convention in Cooperstown. Then I reached out to various places and people to create a great itinerary for the fans to follow in Nancy and all her chums’ footsteps. Briefly, in this book Nancy and her friends mention or visit some neat local places in Cooperstown including 5-mile point, 3-mile point, Glimmerglass State Park, Hyde Bay on Otsego Lake, Shadow Brook, Mount Wellington, the Cooperstown docks, Kingfisher Tower, Council Rock, The Farmer’s Museum and the Cardiff Giant, the “Fenimore Museum” likely then “Fenimore House” home of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) now called the Fenimore Art Museum, Natty Bumppo’s Cave, a Toy Museum which is no longer open, Hyde Hall, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, shopping in the Village of Cooperstown, the US Post Office, The Otesaga Resort Hotel, and Hyde Hall. Researching and reading about these places is one thing, experiencing them in real time is a whole different ballgame.

I traveled to Cooperstown with several close chums in Nancy Drew Sleuths, Gina, Mary, and Kelly who are part of our fan organization that puts on these conventions. We started out in Ohio and drove up to Cooperstown over the course of two days doing research and book hunting. The day we arrived in Cooperstown we could picture Nancy and her chums making that same drive into Cooperstown. While we wound down the winding roads and valleys, everything was green and lush. The distant woods in the spooky Cooperstown mountains were daring us to explore. Would there be a mysterious sorcerer to tangle with or try and stop us from our sleuthing around Cooperstown? Time would tell. As we drove into Cooperstown we were amazed with the picturesque homes and buildings. It was like stepping back in time. Throughout downtown Cooperstown, people were milling about and checking out the shops and attractions, but we turned North heading toward the west side of the lake where we were staying in a cottage for the duration of the convention. Our home base was the Bayside Inn and Marina along the lakeshore. As we took the road on the west side, I spotted Otsego Lake and everything fell into place – just as described in the book and just as serene. As we wound around the lake, trees densely populated the lake front in places and then views of the lake would quickly come into focus as we whizzed by. The sun was starting to set and the colors and reflections on the Glimmerglass were beautiful as we observed the lake from our deck. I couldn’t wait to start out our adventure the next morning sleuthing out the places from the book and real-life places from behind the scenes when Harriet visited Cooperstown.

Speaking of real life, what’s the mystery behind the writing of this book, the real secret of Mirror Bay? Before we began our journey there, I had turned from planning our tourist stops and real-life adventures around Cooperstown to the history behind the mystery. Specifically, source material that can be easily found that might reveal a few clues. I have notes from frequent trips to the Stratemeyer Syndicate archives at the NYPL. I had made mention in my notes of a couple of letters about Mirror Bay but hadn’t paid a lot of attention to them, as I was focused on other subjects on my previous visits. So, I reached out to Stratemeyer researcher James Keeline who has quite a database of letters and records on the NYPL Syndicate archives. He searched through his files and came up with several dozen letters and documents in the NYPL related to Mirror Bay that greatly added historical details to what I wanted to share with fans at the Village of Cooperstown Library event where I was to give a talk on Mirror Bay and the history behind it. These letters included the two that I had taken notes on. Also, there was an interesting reference on a written set of writing tips, a “Hint on Procedure for Writing Children’s Books” that Harriet wrote. The procedures included this bit of information under “Part III. Research” – “Libraries, museums. Children’s coaches in Moscow palace now a museum. Used in story now laid in Cooperstown.” In doing a bit of research online, The Grand Kremlin Palace serves as the official working residence of the president of Russia. It also houses a museum. The Armoury Chamber at The Grand Kremlin Palace houses a lot of historic and ceremonial items including carriages and coaches. Harriet seemed to have an interest in Russian cultural artifacts, as they appeared in several other Nancy Drew mysteries. Was there something locally that Harriet spotted that inspired her to create the Russian backstory and cultural artifact, the child’s coach, that was hidden in the lake waiting to be discovered? I would soon discover a connection…

As I was working my way through the Syndicate letters, notes, and memos for more clues, I discovered a curious piece of ephemera that transcended way back before Harriet’s 1971 visit to nearly fifty years earlier. Specifically, to 1924 Cooperstown in the midst of the Roaring Twenties. Cooperstown was quite the enterprising village town. The historic Otesaga Resort Hotel had opened in 1909. And Cooperstown was a place of many lakeside camps for kids which were very rustic in nature, not for today’s glampers. Cooperstown has been described as literary, cultural, recreational, and of course naturally beautiful - and it has remained so for many years. As it turns out, the letter I discovered involved Harriet’s father, Edward Stratemeyer of The Stratemeyer Syndicate – inventor of Nancy Drew and other popular series including The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, The Rover Boys and The Bobbsey Twins. Stratemeyer had been to Cooperstown in 1924. In a typed letter dated July 15, 1924, to “Camp Chenango, Cooperstown NY”, addressed to a “Mr. Fisher,” he wrote of his time spent in Cooperstown at the camp briefly. He was traveling with “Mr. Adams” – Harriet’s husband Russell. “I shall long remember my visit to your camp and how royally I was entertained there. It certainly is a beautiful spot and I do not wonder the boys are enjoying every minute of their vacation. Remember me to all of them and also to your wife and to the others.” He was sending Fisher a parcel of Stratemeyer Syndicate books including some that Stratemeyer himself wrote up to the camp for the boys to read, perhaps on rainy days. 

Naturally I was curious about this camp! I Googled “Camp Chenango” online to find a little bit of info, but not much, as this was nearly 100 years ago that Stratemeyer visited and I wasn’t sure how long the camp was in existence. I ran across something written about camps in the area and it would appear that Camp Chenango was near the Pathfinder Lodge somewhere on the east side of the lake described as a “woodsy maze.” In a June 1921 issue of Scribner’s Magazine, an ad ran for Camp Chenango heralding “CAMP CHENANGO ON OTSEGO LAKE, COOPERSTOWN, N. Y. For Boys 6 to 15. Give your boy a vacation that counts. Self-Reliance, Happiness, Health. Wholesome Food, Systematic Exercise, Mountain Air, Ideal Surroundings. Send for Illustrated Booklet.” I also found a book – “A Handbook of Summer Camps: An Annual Survey,” vol III by Porter Sargent, dated 1926, in which a description of Camp Chenango noted that the camp “is on the east shore of the lake, four miles from Cooperstown and The Pathfinders’ Lodge is a half mile beyond.” Camp Chenango was a boys’ camp, Pathfinders’ Lodge was a girls’ camp. In Mirror Bay, Nancy stayed around 6 miles on the east side out of Cooperstown, the Pathfinder Lodge is near there and of course Camp Chenango. Located by Camp Chenango was Camp Otsego for girls also run by the Fishers which opened in the 1940s. In Mirror Bay, Nancy and her friends walk from their cottage toward Cooperstown and encounter a group of boy campers and their counselor – no doubt likely from Camp Chenango, since it was a boys’ camp. They also run into a councilor named Karen who referred to her “little girl campers” – likely from Camp Otsego. There were quite a few camps running up and down the east side of the lake.

Campers in a 1920s postcard of Camp Chenango

Map of Otsego Lake from Ralph  Birdsall's The Story of Cooperstown

Copy from Suzan Friedlander with notes on camp locations

I ran across an article in the Cooperstown Crier from 2013 with some information on a gathering of folks discussing the lake camps. Several people were listed who presented about Cooperstown area camps and I settled on one of them to contact - Suzan “Sue” Friedlander, Executive Director & Head Curator at the Arkell Museum & Canajoharie Library, who was happy to help share some information and I credit her immensely in helping me find more information on the camps and to figure out where the real-life location of the cabin in the book, Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee, might have been when Harriet visited Cooperstown in 1971.

Sue was a fan of Nancy Drew and has her childhood books including some of the Stratemeyer Syndicate’s Bobbsey Twin books one of which is signed by the author through a colleague of her father’s. Sue shared a map from a book by Ralph Birdsall - The Story of Cooperstown, first published in 1917. You can get a reprint at Willis Monie Bookshop in downtown Cooperstown. Sue had written notes on a copy of the map as to where the camps were back in the day. Now I could get a sense of exactly where Camp Chenango and Camp Otsego were located along the east side of Otsego Lake. Past Natty Bumppo’s Cave and before Pathfinder Lodge. 

So nearly 50 years later after her father vacationed through Cooperstown with her husband Russell, Harriet in the summer of 1971 ventures to Cooperstown to gather research for writing Mirror Bay. This is where the mystery deepens. How did she come to go to Cooperstown and more importantly, who drove her there? This could have been the stuff of Syndicate legends never solved, but I gave it the old college try. I started with Nancy Axelrad, the only surviving Stratemeyer Syndicate partner left who had told me several years ago that a Jane Sanderson who was working at the Syndicate went with Harriet to Cooperstown. Nancy noted that Jane had spent summers camping in Cooperstown as a child and knew all the ghost stories around there. So, my starting point to find out more info behind the scenes, was to locate Jane Sanderson if possible. When you’re living in the present day 2020s and you’re talking about people who were working at the Syndicate more than 50 years ago in the 1970s, sadly, many are not around today which throws a wrench into sleuthing for more clues.

Not so for Jane Sanderson. My one big clue was that she was, like Harriet, a Wellesley graduate. So, I reached out to the Wellesley Alumni Association and they sent Jane a message for me and I got a reply from Jane. Unfortunately, it was not the reply I expected. She was there working at the Syndicate in the 1960s, but not the 1970s and didn’t know about Cooperstown. So, dead end there, and then the plot thickened…

Going back to square one is a daunting place to be at first. However, I never give up that easily. So, I compiled a list of people I was aware of who were working at the Syndicate in the early 1970s to try and figure out which one of them could be our “culprit.” Nancy had been sure it was Jane, so she tried to think over who it could have and likely couldn’t have been. Many on the list have already passed on. There was Priscilla Baker-Carr, June Dunn, Ann Shultes, Mary Fisher, Julie Irish, Lorry Rickle, Lilo Wuenn, Grace Grote, and others Harriet sometimes took trips with from her own family including sister-in-law Jeannette Adams and granddaughter Dr. Margie McClave. There were others too that worked at the Syndicate like secretary Marjorie Flynn and Nancy reached out to Marjorie to see if she had a few clues.

Meanwhile, I started trying to find out more about Julie Irish. Curiously, Julie was from New Paltz, NY – just a couple of hours from Cooperstown. That seemed promising. However, a letter in the NYPL files from Julie to Harriet stated that Julie was moving to Tucson, AZ in the summer of 1970, so she wouldn’t have likely been around to go with Harriet and she didn’t work in the office, she worked from New Paltz. I surmised that whoever went with Harriet was likely someone working regularly in the office or living around that area in New Jersey. There was a woman on the list – a Mary Fisher – who I was curious about as one of the letters on Mirror Bay back and forth from the Syndicate to Grosset & Dunlap included a secretary’s initials “mdf” (turns out this is Marjorie Flynn) and another Syndicate letter of the time period included initials with just “mf” – could that be Mary Fisher? Alas, no it was also Marjorie Flynn. And then of course, there’s Camp Chenango that Edward visited run by a family named Fisher. Coincidence? Possibly. But another piece to the puzzle I needed to shake down.

Grace Grote worked for the Syndicate during the time period of Mirror Bay having been written, she’d been there over 10 years at this point and had written quite a few Bobbsey Twins books plus helped revised some Nancy Drew books including The Secret of Shadow Ranch and The Message in the Hollow Oak. She also helped with general research and had done research on the two Nancy Drew books published before Mirror Bay. Her husband Donald Grote, was an advisor on science related subjects, mainly for the Tom Swift series. As of 2020, Grace had turned 100 and there’s a news piece online about her church celebrating that milestone. Would I be able to get in touch with her in 2023? Might she have the missing piece of the puzzle? I reached out to her church to see if they could get me in touch with her. 

Then there was the eureka discovery in going manually through the PDF files of the Grace and Donald Grote letters in the Stratemeyer Syndicate archives at NYPL that James shared. It seemed there were little to no hints there, nothing about Mirror Bay from the 1970s letters and as I scrolled upward back through time, I got into the 1950s when I spied it. And I can see why the “Cooperstown” search James ran didn’t find it originally as Cooperstown was misspelled in the letter – it was spelled “Cooperstorn,” a harmless typo at the time, but not so harmless in that it was nearly overlooked 70 years after the fact when trying to solve this mystery!

This letter that I discovered in the Grote files, began the final unearthing of the rest of the puzzle pieces I needed to solve this mystery. Harriet was dashing off this letter to Grace’s husband, Donald, in 1957 about a Tom Swift he was consulting on and she casually mentioned that she and her husband had unexpectedly made a trip to Cooperstown for a funeral of “an old friend.” The letter was dated July 12, 1957. Looking up a 1957 calendar online, I surmised based on her mentioning having gone there “last Sunday” – which would have been the 7th of July, that the funeral had to have taken place around that time. It was exciting to see that Harriet had been to Cooperstown and that she knew someone associated with the town. I felt like I was getting closer to solving the mystery.

Screen capture from The Oneonta Star - July 5, 1957

I figured it was worth a try to search out 1957 obituaries for early July.  I searched online for a Cooperstown area newspaper – The Oneonta Star – to see if I could find an obituary for early July that matched the date. In a matter of minutes, I’d found a “smoking gun” of sorts. There was a clipping of a July 5, 1957 entry about E. Lynn Fisher who had died on July 4 at his camp on Otsego Lake. What are the odds that a Fisher – associated in some way with Harriet’s father before her and his visit to Camp Chenango in 1924 with her husband, passed away at around the same time Harriet was going to Cooperstown for a funeral?

The obituary mentioned that Fisher had established Camp Chenango. Undoubtedly the same “Mr. Fisher” that Edward Stratemeyer was writing to in 1924. The funeral was in the afternoon that same day Harriet and her husband had hurriedly drove up to Cooperstown. Fisher was living in NJ and was an English teacher in Newark, NJ. That sealed the deal for me. The Stratemeyer family likely knew the Fisher family well based on not only being based in NJ where the Stratemeyers had lived for years, but the 1924 visit by Edward and Russell Adams and Harriet traveling to Cooperstown for the funeral in 1957, and so that explains the travels to Cooperstown and likely the connection to traveling there in 1971. I would soon come full circle with more news about this connection between the two families.

Now the real question became what inspired Harriet to return for researching Mirror Bay in 1971 and was Syndicate employee, Mary Fisher, the connection to the Fisher family in NJ and Cooperstown and did she drive Harriet to Cooperstown in 1971?

In order to solve that mystery, I needed to see about connecting with Grace Grote and running all these new developments by Nancy Axelrad to see if that seemed plausible.

Nancy revealed a connection between E. Lynn Fisher and a Lynn Ealer who worked at the Syndicate during the 1970s and it was a further eureka moment! Lynn Ealer Ritchkoff was a granddaughter of E. Lynn Fisher. I recalled that in the obit of Fisher, one of his daughters listed was Mrs. George J. Ealer. Nancy revealed that Harriet, her husband Russell, and some couples including the Fishers formed a group called The Whirling Dirvishes and would get together and ball room dance. I think like a graceful waltz we’ve now come full circle. I suspected that Lynn might have driven Harriet or perhaps suggested the setting of the book. But, was she the “culprit” who went with Harriet? As for Mary Fisher, not a relation, just a red herring!

I needed to see if I could find Lynn to get answers to my questions. I found her daughter through social media and messaged her hoping she could get me in touch with Lynn. Meanwhile, in doing a Google search, I found an obituary for a woman that Lynn had left a condolence on at legacy website where she reminisced about “beautiful Otsego Lake and Hyde Bay” and “camping days on Otsego.” She fondly remembered camp reunions. This was definitely the right Lynn.

I heard back from Lynn’s daughter, and she was able to put me in touch with Lynn. Her daughter recounted the family trips to Cooperstown and how cousins of theirs still live in the area. She related how Camps Chenango and Otsego closed in 1976 and at one point the local family took over running the camp from the Fishers before that after E. Lynn “Pop” Fisher passed away. She related that Camp Chenango was located near Pathfinder Lodge. As for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, her daughter told me how she spent “sick days” sometimes from school curled up on a couch at the offices of The Stratemeyer Syndicate reading the books when her mom Lynn was working there.

Lynn Ealer Ritchkoff (far right) as a camp counselor, photo from a Facebook 

reunion group for Cooperstown camps - copyright held by owner of photo

Lynn and I had a wonderful time chatting - just the stories and memories she could recount about her time at the Syndicate and knowing Harriet. The memories spent in Cooperstown at the camps were lovely to hear about. Her grandmother, Jane Carr Fisher, was really good friends with Harriet, the wife of E. Lynn Fisher of Camp Chenango. In fact, Lynn told me how the Fishers lived just a few houses down from Harriet in Maplewood, NJ. She spoke of Camp Chenango and Camp Otsego and how they were very rustic camps, mostly tents and a few cabins. There was a bridge between the two camps and the girls and boys would get together some for meals, beach cookouts, square dancing, church on Sundays, but they also did a lot of activities on their own. She reminisced about all the camaraderie among the campers and counselors who came back for many years each year. So here it was, the connection complete between how Harriet and her family came to travel and visit Cooperstown – she was good friends and Maplewood neighbors with Jane and Pop Fisher. And the association ran deep - back at least as far as 1924 when Edward and Harriet’s husband visited the Fishers at Camp Chenango. What a really neat and exceptionally quaint back story, one I never expected to uncover when I began looking into the background of Harriet researching for this book. I have no doubt that visits to the Fishers and the camps was an inspiration and perhaps this was a touching way to commemorate the long-lasting friendship among the families.

After graduating from her grandmother Jane’s Alma Mater, Elmira College, Jane suggested that Lynn work for Harriet and after the interview, she was hired and worked at the Syndicate for a few years. Her position was secretarial and she did a lot of typing. She recalled a small staff in the office, the line of typewriters everyone worked on, how Harriet was most pleasant, generous, and always had a smile. Parties in Maplewood and Harriet’s Bird Haven Farm were a treat. Lynn recounted once they moved the Syndicate offices from East Orange to Maplewood, how they had a wonderful library in the office of all the books the Syndicate had produced.

My first question, after pleasantries, was to ask if Lynn drove Harriet up to Cooperstown. Was she THE one I’d been searching for? The answer was “no” – Lynn was not the one who traveled with Harriet. Lynn wasn’t sure if she had been in Cooperstown when Harriet visited in 1971, but she remembers Harriet saying she was going to go there and of course about her having traveled up there and then writing the book. Lynn had a thought that it might have been June Dunn, who Nancy Axelrad had told me often went on trips with Harriet. So, perhaps it was June, similar in name to Jane, who went with Harriet to Cooperstown. Perhaps Jane Sanderson was being remembered instead of Jane Fisher, Harriet’s friend. Two Janes and one June and I think we’re on the right track. The one person left who might know, of course, was Grace Grote. 

From Lynn I learned a little more about Cooperstown and Otsego Lake. Harriet visited Hyde Bay, located near the north part of the lake, named after the Hyde family. Located in Hyde Bay is Glimmerglass State Park with the Hyde’s mansion, Hyde Hall. There is a river called Shadow Brook, a tributary which flows into Otsego Lake at the north end near Glimmerglass Park that Harriet investigated. In fact, it’s the largest watershed in the Otsego Lake basin. In the book, when the sailboat Nancy and her chums are using is stolen, Yo suggests it might be found around Shadow Brook and they immediately go there and find the sailboat half sunken in the Shadow Brook inlet. Shadow Brook also flows under the historic Hyde Hall Bridge. 

When I mentioned some of the details from Mirror Bay to Lynn, including the sunken chest with the old child’s coach, she wondered if some of the sunken cultural artifacts from the lake could have inspired Harriet. Lynn recalled a particular sunken boat that is in the lake. I did some research online and found there were several wrecks in the lake and an aircraft that crashed in 1948. In August of 1940, there was a wooden boat, The Leatherstocking, that caught fire and sank. There is also Sunken Island in the north part of the lake that Lynn mentioned. These cultural artifacts and the idea of something being sunken – like the island – all could have been inspiration to Harriet.

Other things that clearly inspired Harriet were the history and tales written by James Fenimore Cooper which Harriet mentions in the beginning of Mirror Bay and in various places throughout the story. Cooper’s 1830 novel, The Water-Witch, featuring a ship named “Water-Witch,” likely inspired the name of the speedboat that capsizes Nancy’s sailboat, named “The Water Witch.” Sleuth Gina found this gem in searching about Cooperstown. Cooperstown was also called “The Haunted Lake” by Cooper’s grandniece Constance Fenimore. In Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in a volume from 1871 to 1872, there’s an article called “The Haunted Lake” which discusses Cooper and the lake. Constance speaks of Cooper no longer being with us but that the magic of his characters lingers on all around the area that he “lovingly described.” She writes of the lake, “It’s points and bays are haunted, and it’s forests are peopled with wraiths and shades.” There couldn’t have been a better place to set Mirror Bay.

Lynn and I discussed where Harriet might have stayed when she visited Cooperstown in 1971. She mentioned a place I hadn’t heard of called Rathbun’s. In doing some research I zeroed in on the fact that it was located nearly 7 miles on the east side of the lake near Hyde Bay in very close proximity to the place in the book that everyone stays at. I discovered that it was sold in 1985 and is now the Hyde Bay Colony. Online you can look up Hyde Bay Colony and learn more about these cabins that 13 families collectively own and rent out. The colony is located near Glimmerglass State Park. It’s also just south of the Shadow Brook River and tributary to Otsego Lake.

Sharing the description of Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee in the book with Sue Friedlander, she agreed that it was likely the current Hyde Bay Colony. A major clue in the book that didn’t seem like something that would have been made up, was that Nancy’s cabin was a “cola stop” for hikers so there was a coke machine on the porch. There’s a cottage today in the colony that advertises that they keep a copy of Mirror Bay displayed in the cottage. Looking online at photos of the cottages in the colony, the descriptions, the lake being right there, a dock, the views north across Hyde Bay and west across Lake Otsego, just south of Shadow Brook, it would appear to be THE location. Whether Harriet stayed there or not while doing research for the book, she certainly made that the location for Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee when writing the story.

In the book, once everyone gets to Cooperstown, Nancy notes they will drive along the water to Hyde Bay and then walk down to “Bide-A-Wee cabin.” It’s located “some six miles” from Cooperstown. The drive to the cabin involves sites along the lake of various camps and campers - likely Camp Chenango and Camp Otsego among others. They come to a parking area on the left and park. They take their bags and head down a path toward the waterfront. Though the cabin was on the bay, it was at the point where the “inlet joined the lake proper.” The cabin was described as rustic and had a large front porch with a view west across the lake and north across the bay. It had a living room with a large fireplace, a well-furnished kitchen and three good sized bedrooms. 

Former Entrance to Camps Chenango/Otsego

After we arrived in Cooperstown the next morning we set off on a sleuthing adventure around the east side of the lake. Our goal was to find the location of the former Camp Chenango and Camp Otsego and also to check out the Hyde Bay Colony to see if in fact this could be where the fictional Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee cabin was located. I had a rather vague address for Camp Chenango and a notation of someone mentioning a chain across an old entrance. We watched our car’s mileage and drove about 4 miles until we soon spotted a chain draped lazily across what was formerly a driveway. Overgrown with greenery and vines, Gina and I traipsed down through the path, picking our way as rain threatened to start pouring. There was an overgrown clearing and then a “woodsy maze” as described in researching the camp. Nothing remained of the camp, but you could picture the kids having a grand old time back in the day with so much to explore and probably daring each other to run across on the right side of the road up the spooky old “haunted” mountain.

We also doubled back to check out the hiking entrance to the trail going up to Natty Bumppo’s cave – considered a rather steep hike and by then the rain was coming. I walked a pathway among the trees which provided some shelter and even checked the stumps of trees for mushrooms as I went. Would they be luminescent? While we didn’t try to hike up to the cave, Sleuth LuAnn and her husband Jim did – they didn’t spot any real sorcerers or mushrooms, but they did discover the cave entrance. LuAnn noted that the path up gets steeper as you climb up. She said “the cave is vertical and a small person could probably squeeze in.  Maybe it has a lower opening, but it was too steep for us to check out.” It was different as described in the book and of course Nancy and her pals had an easy time getting to it for the sake of the mystery and convenience in Mirror Bay.

Pics of Natty Bumppo's Cave from LuAnn O'Connell 
taken during a hike with her husband Jim

We headed around the lake to a point of “some six miles” to arrive at the Hyde Bay Colony. A sign on the road advertised and rather beckoned us in and we drove down into a parking area surrounded by cabins that spread down towards the lake. It was pouring rain at this point and I grabbed one of Mary’s umbrellas determined to not let that detour me. Channeling my inner Nancy Drew, I headed down with my phone tucked under the shelter of the umbrella and started down a pathway. Just like in the book, you wound down towards the lake and as I came around a bend, there the lake came into view, and it was like I had transported myself into historical fiction – the book came to life. The view! Oh, the view across Hyde Bay was spectacular. You could see west across Otsego Lake, north across Hyde Bay to see Hyde Hall up on the hill. To the right was Shadow Brook inlet and just north from there the Glimmerglass State Park beach area. Down around the lake front were several cabins on the left and right. They sported decks and like in the book had chimneys and fireplaces. The dock ran out from the shore and there were several boats and kayaks. I could picture Nancy and her friends swimming and diving and even Miss Armitage “gliding across the water” on her stilts. I was a little awestruck as the rain came down in torrents. I almost hated to leave the glorious view, but we had more sleuthing to do. Turning around one last time as I headed back up the path, I had solved one mystery. This was Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee.

The path down to...Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee

One Mystery Solved!

Hyde Bridge, Shadow Brook runs underneath

Next, we headed to Glimmerglass State Park and stopped at the Hyde Bridge, one of the oldest covered bridges and it was a beauty. What a sight to stand there and watch Shadow Brook flow under the bridge toward Otsego Lake. We continued into the park and walked to the beachfront. I took a trail left down towards the lake edge where Shadow Brook empties into it. There was a lot of areas you couldn’t get to, without getting into the muddy shallows and brush, but I got close enough to get some nice pictures of the inlet where in the book, Nancy’s stolen sailboat is found half buried in mud. From the park we traveled to Hyde Hall, the mansion in the book where some of the crooks try to conceal a stolen chest of papers. You could see across Hyde Bay back over to Hyde Bay Colony and a small dotting of the cabins. The views were stunning. Our sleuthing out the real-life places was a very successful and rewarding part of our day.

Shadow Brook inlet, tributary

Hyde Hall

Before arriving in Cooperstown, I had continued to try and solve the mystery of who Harriet went with to Cooperstown. Would I ever solve that? I had to find a way to get in touch with Grace Grote. What might she have to say about it all? And did she or her husband Donald have anything to do with Mirror Bay behind the scenes? Mirror Bay with its inclusion of the theory of Cold Light, the Fireflies, and the science laboratory in the mountains, would have been right up Donald’s alley.

The church contacted me back and called Grace to see if they could give me her phone number so I could call her. She wasn’t on social media and didn’t have e-mail, so it would be regular mail or the phone which suited me just fine. In the nick of time, I rang her the day before I embarked on my trip to Cooperstown and I was thrilled to get to chat with Grace, nearly 50 years after she had worked at the Stratemeyer Syndicate, having left in 1974. 

Grace was so interesting to talk with. She mainly worked on the Bobbsey Twins series, but did do research for Harriet on other things, however she didn’t remember whether she or Donald might have worked on the Mirror Bay book. After so many years, it wasn’t familiar to her. She was always pretty caught up in the Bobbsey Twins series at the Syndicate. She spoke fondly of her husband Donald who was a science teacher. She said when he worked on Tom Swift, he could come up with fantastic inventions but Harriet’s one caveat was that they must be scientifically possible. It’s possible he could have given some info to Harriet on some of the science in Mirror Bay regarding Cold Light and fireflies. Grace wasn’t sure who Harriet would have traveled with. So, outside of the possibility of it being June Dunn, I was resigned to the fact that this piece of the puzzle might remain a mystery. Grace did fondly remember reading Nancy Drew during the Great Depression. She was around 9 years old and emphatically stated that “Nancy Drew was a great splash of light in a very dark time.” Grace, very proud of her work at the Stratemeyer Syndicate, gives talks about Edward Stratemeyer, Harriet, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and other topics related to the Syndicate. I think this is incredibly inspirational.

There was a February 2011 article in the now defunct Whispered Watchword by Jack French about Grace Grote who he’d spoken with to write the article around 2010. He wrote of Harriet and her research trips and Grace had mentioned that June Dunn frequently went with Harriet on trips for research. French wrote, “When Harriet needed some outside research to be done regarding a geographical region or a certain industry for use in an upcoming series book, Harriet would take another staffer, June M. Dunn, with her on these trips.” I think therefore, since June and “Jane” are similar, that it’s highly likely given this information about June, that she was probably the person who went with Harriet to Cooperstown. A letter soon to arrive from Lynn also referred to the likelihood that it had to be June Dunn.

Back to Cooperstown, I was speaking at the Village of Cooperstown Library on Saturday, July 15 during our convention and I was very excited to tell everyone about my sleuthing adventures in ferreting out all the clues behind the mystery and how Harriet came to visit Cooperstown. Sue Friedlander attended the event and other local Cooperstonians were present including Pam Larbig whose grandparents were Pop and Jane Fisher. Lynn, her cousin, had called to chat with her about my visit and research. I was so thrilled to be able to meet one of the family and chat about Harriet’s visit. Several exciting things came from the library event. Pam told me about remembering Harriet’s visit in 1971. She was just a kid then and busy with camp activities, but she recalled Harriet coming to visit. She remembered a coke machine at the camp too that may have figured into the coke machine on the Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee porch. She also remembered Harriet sending up books to the camps and still has her vintage series books including her Nancy Drews. Several locals and some of the Sleuths in the audience noted during our Q’ & A’ after the talk, that the 1970s were a period of Sci-Fi themes in pop culture, so that also could have influenced Harriet’s choice of the science elements of this book. Sue brought up the Carriage and Harness Museum when I wondered about the coach. When I referred to the character Yo in the book as being called a “folklore joker” behind the scenes by Harriet, Sue and the woman sitting next to her both said immediately that was a local man named Louis “Lou” Jones. And then and there I had more rabbit holes to sleuth down when I returned and wrapped up this adventure. What an exciting day!

Postcard featuring the Carriage and Harness Museum

First let’s talk about the Carriage and Harness Museum and the child’s Russian coach plot elements. Back in the 1970s when Cooperstown was full of museums, some no longer here today, there was a carriage museum called the Carriage and Harness Museum. There had been around three dozen carriages owned by millionaire F. Ambrose Clark that had been on display among other relics. In an article in the New York Times about the museum from 1978, it was disclosed that the museum would be closing and the collection would be dispersed at public auction. The carriage and harness collection was considered the finest in the country. Clark was an internationally known sportsman and one of the last sporting carriage drivers. The museum was located two blocks from main street in the former stable of Clark’s at Elk and Fair streets. A 1975 New York Times article, “A Large Slice of Americana, Served up in Cooperstown” described the vehicles as "buggies, runabouts, buckboards, carts, phaetons, shays, sleighs, Bronson wagon, road coach and other horsedrawn vehicles." Could there have been a child’s coach in the collection? Did visiting this museum inspire Harriet to look into coaches in a Russian Palace, “now a museum,” as she noted in the set of writing hints, which then led her to create the Russian child’s coach backstory?

Denny's Toy Museum

There was the “Toy Museum” that Nancy and her friends visited in Mirror Bay. Long closed, it was located on the west side of the lake toward Springfield Center located on the northwest part of the lake and the buildings are still there though it’s a private residence now. I found a reference online in an old issue – May 30, 1977 – of New York Magazine via Google Books. It was called Denny’s Toy Museum when Harriet visited. Harriet was an avid doll collector and the now-closed toy museum housed quite a few dolls and children’s toys. In the book the description of the dolls included this information, “Also on display were many kinds of buggies and other vehicles in which children had given their dolls rides.” Perhaps between the toy museum and the Carriage and Harness Museum, and Harriet’s love of Russian antiquities, the child’s Russian coach plot was born.

Louis C. Jones aka "Yo" from Mirror Bay

Next, we’ll focus on the “folklore joker,” Louis C. Jones. What a character he must have been! After the library event and a special early 50th surprise birthday party that was thrown for Kelly and I, we headed to Hyde Hall for the house tour which didn’t disappoint, Hyde Hall was a fabulous vintage Cooperstown showpiece. Before the tour, in the gift shop, I purchased one of Jones’s books, Things That Go Bump in the Night, which is a neat book, a 1983 reprint published by Syracuse University Press. The back of the book notes that Jones was “an authority on regional folklore and on ghost stories in particular. He was director of the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, New York.” His New York Times obituary from November 28, 1990 noted that he had retired from NYSHA the year Mirror Bay was published. His collection that he assembled of “primitives” has been said to be one of the most important of its type in the country, according to art historians. He was a founder of the New York Folklore Society. In the preface to the book I purchased, Jones stated about the supernatural, “I was not, am not, a believer in the supernatural; if I had had a motto it would probably have been, Dubito Ergo Sum.” This translates to “I doubt, therefore I think, I think therefore I am.” Of Cooperstown he stated, “It is a great privilege to live in a town which the dead have not deserted.” 

Harriet had to have met Jones in researching the area and with his being head of NYSHA and the associated Fenimore House and the Farmer’s Museum, he would have been a great resource for her on local Cooperstown lore. She clearly used his books for research in Mirror Bay. In reading Things that Go Bump in the Night, two stories that Yo had talked about in Mirror Bay, included a “folk classic” and a “ghostly hitchhiker” tale that Jones expanded on in his book. A classic example of urban ghost lore is “The Ghostly Hitchhiker” and Jones devotes an entire chapter to this folklore. There are similar versions all over but the basics include a rainy day, someone riding by a cemetery, seeing a girl, and picking her up to take her to an address. She disappears once there, the woman inside the home was her mother, the girl had died and was buried in that cemetery. On page 137 of Mirror Bay, Yo tells this story to Nancy and her friends. Another tale from Jones’s book, the folk classic ranking up there with the ghostly hitchhiker was a story about a couple stopping for the night and an elderly couple giving them a room. They left early so as not to disturb the couple, leaving a 50-cent piece on a table. In town, they’re told the place had burned down some time ago, and a trip back to investigate finds the remains of the building but on part of a table still standing is the 50-cent piece. Yo tells this story on page 105 of Mirror Bay.

In Mirror Bay, Harriet brings the folklore into the plot with Yo referring to Cooperstown as “Ghost Country.” The name Jones appears in several places in the book – a botany student, Karen Jones, is a camp counselor at a girls’ camp and tells Nancy about Yo, “People around there laugh at him and say he’s full of tall tales…” He’s noted as being “kind of a town character.” George refers to him as the “tall-story boy.” Nancy’s boyfriend Ned Nickerson conveniently is taking a psychology course at Emerson College and as part of that course he’s been studying folklore and ghosts. Ned tells the reader that “Scholars of this subject declare that all these stories are merely folklore.” Ned ends up spoiling Yo’s attempt to put one over the girls with these ghost stories, for Ned already knows the stories and their endings. One of the villains, Sam Hornsby, is revealed to be named Sam H. Jones. Curiously, in Jones’s book, a man named Michael Welch is mentioned in connection with a ghostly tale. In Mirror Bay, Sam’s partner is named Michael Welch, who rented along with Doria, the Water Witch speedboat. His full name is Michael W. Brink. Finally, Yo refers to Nancy as “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.” As a teenage sleuth, calling Nancy a “Mrs.” is odd. I have to wonder if Jones called Harriet, a Mrs., by that moniker due to her mystery writing and sleuthing around Cooperstown. I’m sure that would have delighted Harriet enough to use it in the book.

Reprint purchased at Hyde Hall

Bruce Markeson telling tales about Pomeroy Place

Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tours

The night before the library event, our group had taken a ghost tour of Cooperstown haunts by Bruce Markeson – Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tours – which was wonderful and is highly recommended. He and his wife attended the library event. When Sue Friedlander mentioned Lou Jones, I was reminded of a stop on the ghost tour to Pomeroy Place. A gray stone house, Pomeroy Place was built in 1804 located on the corner of Main and River Streets near Otsego Lake. It was a wedding gift from William Cooper, founder of Cooperstown, to his daughter Ann and her husband George Pomeroy. Ann’s ghost is said to haunt Pomeroy Place. Markeson related the tale and said she’s sometimes seen reading through a window. Jones lived for a time in Pomeroy Place. In fact, in a new introduction dated 31 December 1982 to the reprint of Things That Go Bump in the Night, he writes on page vii, “We moved next door to live in Ann Cooper Pomeroy’s herringbone house, and while we have never seen her, my wife thinks our old Sheltie, Fido, watched her come down the stairs and go out the front door one summer’s evening.” Our tour ended as we wrapped things up at Otsego Lake near the infamous Council Rock. 

The infamous Council Rock

When I returned home from Cooperstown to continue sleuthing for more information about clues that I was given at the library event, there were letters waiting for me from Lynn Ealer Ritchkof. I was excited to see them. One was a promised article on Cooperstown by Nicole Pensiero in the NJ Star-Ledger – I had found a link to it online to check out while traveling there and it was a nice write up with neat things to do in Cooperstown. Lynn mentioned in her letter several things that were interesting to note. One exiting clue was that Lynn and a friend had researched mushroom caves for Harriet in Newburgh, NY. She also reminisced about the camp days and Harriet’s generous donation of books to the camps over the years. She reiterated that she felt that June Dunn was the likely one to have gone with Harriet to Cooperstown. 

The research into mushroom caves was intriguing. Especially since luminescent mushrooms play a role in Mirror Bay as do caves. Nancy finds a luminescent mushroom growing a cave in a scene in the book. I didn’t find much online about any mushroom caves, but while we were there in Cooperstown, I kept my eye out for any growing around tree stumps and on the ground. I had looked up luminescent mushrooms online and had some idea what they might look like. We did find an abundance of mushrooms in two locations. The first was south of Cooperstown near Milford where we went on a rail biking adventure. The other was when we visited Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee the second time when it wasn’t raining after the library event and everyone got to see that amazing view. There were mushrooms growing all over of various types. I don’t think any were luminescent though. In a humid lake environment such as what exists in Cooperstown, I’m sure that mushrooms are prevalent and would have been back at the time of Harriet’s visit. Perhaps they piqued her interest enough to turn them into something more intriguing in Mirror Bay

Mushrooms on our rail bike tour south of Cooperstown

Mushrooms at Mirror Bay Bide-A-Wee

Baseball Hall of Fame

What of the Key to Cooperstown that museum officials were going to have made for Nancy? After the mystery involving the Russian child’s coach is solved and the relic is brought up from the lake bottom, officials from the “Fenimore Museum” come to collect it – a Mr. Hill and a Mr. Clark. The Clark name was famous in Cooperstown – the family had many roots in this area – F. Ambrose Clark’s carriages and harnesses making up the museum previously mentioned, the family built the Otesaga Hotel and Resort. Stephen Carlton Clark was a philanthropist and art collector among other pursuits. He founded the Baseball Hall of Fame. He gave his late brother, Edward’s home, to NYSHA which became the Fenimore Art Museum. He is the founder of the Farmer’s Museum. His son Stephen Carlton Clark, Jr. would have been around continuing his father’s legacy when Harriet visited in 1971. So, there is little doubt that either the senior or the junior is the inspiration for the museum official, “Mr. Clark,” that arrives to assist Nancy and Miss Armitage with the donation of the Russian child’s coach. 

I reached out to the Deputy Mayor of Cooperstown, Cynthia “Cindy” Falk, and Mayor Ellen R. Tillapaugh for a few clues. Was there a real-life Key to Cooperstown, or perhaps back in the day? Or was it the stuff of fiction, as is often the case? I found out from them that there is no real-life Key to Cooperstown, now or back when Harriet was writing this book, just an invention and a way to reward Nancy for a job well done for solving the mystery. Deputy Mayor Cindy sent me a 1928 article that had the line, “if there was a key to the village…,” showing that there was historically no key at that time. Mayor Ellen gave me a little info on Denny’s Toy Museum and noted that it was a popular place for birthday parties with a tour, lantern slides and then cake and ice cream on the porch. It was closed sometime after Harriet’s visit in the 1970s and the collection dispersed. She noted that she had purchased Mirror Bay for her kids and nieces and she even came to the library event. It was a pleasure to meet her and I thank both her and Cindy for the information they provided.

There was one final curiosity I had in checking out the book and real-life people and places. The Baseball Hall of Fame is more of a tourist-type stop in the book rather than a part of the mystery. But Nancy and a few of the others check it out one evening. Nancy states that she’s partial to baseball player Leroy Satchel Paige for a quote of his, “Don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.” I had wondered if that quote might be prominent at the museum, assuming that Harriet had visited it. But when I did a search on Paige, I found that he had come to Cooperstown in 1971 after it was announced in February of that year he would be inducted in the Hall of Fame. In August 1971, he was inducted. There would have been a lot of local fanfare in July leading up to the induction, when Harriet had visited. So, that was big news, and likely played a role in Harriet focusing on Paige in some of the baseball information used in the book.

The Farmer's Museum

Hating to say goodbye to a great adventure, the day we left Cooperstown we stopped into the Farmer’s Museum to see the Cardiff Giant that Nancy and her friends visit in the book. An old archaeology hoax, a man named George Hull decided to see how easily he could fool people with a fake giant and for a time it worked. It was sold to the Farmer’s Museum in the 1940s. We also briefly visited the Fenimore Art Museum. 

Now that we’ve wrapped up the real secret – or many secrets - behind Mirror Bay and how Harriet had an association to the town, via the Fisher family, that none of us ever had a clue about, there must be something magical about the month of July in Cooperstown. Edward Stratemeyer visited Camp Chenango in July of 1924. Harriet and her husband went to Fisher’s funeral in July 1957 and likely Harriet visited Cooperstown in July of 1971 to do research for her book, having written to Grosset & Dunlap mid-July noting she’d just got back from her visit. And of course, here we were, the NancyDrewSleuths hosting our convention in Cooperstown in July of 2023, 99 years after Stratemeyer’s visit. And if you want to get even more conspiratorial, my last name is Fisher. All just fun coincidences, but intriguing nonetheless. But if you don’t believe in coincidences, next thing you know, Doria or Sam the Green Man sorcerer will suddenly appear to scare us away from finding out even more amazing historic behind the scenes information.

One rewarding consequence of my research into Mirror Bay is that Lynn and Grace have reunited and are catching up after quite a few years of losing touch with each other. I think that’s so charming and sweet and I’m happy I could get them back in touch with each other. As I close out this “novelette” about my research into the history behind Harriet’s writing Mirror Bay, I must say, playing Nancy Drew and following in her footsteps as well as Harriet’s was as thrilling as the prospect of doing it all again at the next travelogue-style convention. Until then, Happy Sleuthing Campers!

The Fenimore Art Museum

Check out these other images of local sights from our visit to Cooperstown including a boating excursion on Otsego Lake on the Glimmerglass Queen, seeing Kingfisher Tower from the boat, a visit to the US Post Office, the statue of James Fenimore Cooper and the cemetery where he is buried among other infamous Cooperstown folks, the Otesaga Resort Hotel where we held a mystery dinner, Five Mile Point, and the lakeshore by our cottage and the colorful kayaks that were beached.

Sailing on Otsego Lake

Kingfisher Tower

US Post Office

Statue of James Fenimore Cooper
Cemetery & Headstones

The Otesaga Resort Hotel

Images above of historical documents from NYPL courtesy of James Keeline. Map from Ralph Birdsall's The Story of Cooperstown with notes courtesy of Suzan Friedlander, some images from the ghost tour courtesy of Jim McNamara and Gina Travis, pics from the Natty Bumppo hiking trail from LuAnn O'Connell, photo of Lynn Ealer Ritchkoff and campers from a 
Cooperstown camps reunion Facebook group. 
Other photos from around Cooperstown, taken by Jennifer Fisher.


Carolyn Keene, The Secret of Mirror Bay. Nancy Drew series, volume 49. Grosset & Dunlap, 1972.

Stratemeyer Syndicate Records, 1832-1984, New York Public Library, various letters and documents from various boxes – research gathered by James Keeline, Stratemeyer expert, research notes by Jennifer Fisher; from various library research trips over the years.

Phone calls and letters from Lynn Ealer Ritchkoff, former Stratemeyer Syndicate employee and granddaughter of E. Lynn “Pop” Fisher and Jane Carr Fisher discussing Camp Chenango, Camp Otsego, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams’s visit to Cooperstown to research Mirror Bay.

“E. Lynn Fisher, 77, Organizer of Cooperstown Camps, Dies.” The Oneonta Star, July 5, 1957.

July 2023 phone calls with Grace Grote, former employee and ghostwriter of the Stratmeyer Syndicate, on her experience at the Syndicate and with Harriet Adams.

Previous e-mail correspondence plus July 2023 e-mails with Nancy S. Axelrad, former Stratemeyer Syndicate partner on Harriet Stratemeyer Adams’s travels to Cooperstown 

July 2023 e-mails with Suzan Friedlander, Executive Director & Head Curator at the Arkell Museum & Canajoharie Library, whose research on the camps and Camp Chenango and knowledge of Cooperstown history were a huge help in locating and learning about the camps as well as learning more about Louis C. Jones. Her reading of Mirror Bay helped to point out real-life connections and she was quick to point me toward articles for further research.

In-person chat with Pam Larbig in Cooperstown, NY about her grandparents Pop Fisher and Jane Carr Fisher and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams’s 1971 visit to Cooperstown.

July 2023 e-mails with Cooperstown Deputy Mayor Cynthia Falk and Cooperstown Mayor Ellen R. Tillapaugh regarding an old Toy Museum and the Key to Cooperstown.

The Freeman’s Journal, Cooperstown NY, October 24, 1928. Reference to there being no key to the Village of Cooperstown.

Wikipedia – Cooperstown information, Cooperstown being the “Village of Museums.” – Cooperstown visitor’s information and lore 

A Large Slice of Americana, Served up in Cooperstown. New York Times, July 27, 1975.

“Denny’s Toy Museum” ad. New York Magazine, May 30, 1977.

Louis C. Jones, Things That Go Bump in the Night. Syracuse University Press reprint, 1959, 1983.

Glenn Fowler, “L.C. Jones, 82, Dies; A Writer and Expert on Folklore in U.S.” New York Times, Nov. 28, 1990.

Shirley O’Shea, The Time of Year for Ghost Stories. Cooperstown Crier, October 6, 2011. Features Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tour guide Bruce Markeson.

Constance Fenimore, The Haunted Lake. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, volume 1871-1872.

“Museum is Going Way of Horse and Buggy.” New York Times, July 6, 1978. References to the old Carriage and Harness Museum 

July 2023 E-mail with owner of a cottage at Hyde Bay Colony, Jo Grice-Barrows about Hyde Bay Colony having formerly been Rathbun’s.

Jack French, Fourteen Years Working for the Syndicate. The Whispered Watchword, February 2011 issue, #11-1.

“CAMP CHENANGO ON OTSEGO LAKE, COOPERSTOWN, NY” ad. Scribner’s Magazine, June 1921.

Porter Sargent, “A Handbook of Summer Camps: An Annual Survey,” vol III by Porter Sargent Publishers, 1926. Information on Camp Chenango.

Ralph Birdsall, The Story of Cooperstown. The Arthur H Crist Co, Cooperstown, NY, 1917.