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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

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The Secret of the Old Clock – ND1.5

The Secret of the Old Clock - Russell H. Tandy, Sara Paretsky, Carolyn Keene The Secret of the Old Clock - Carolyn Keene

Continued: Reading the 1930 & 1959 versions of The Secret of The Old Clock simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!


1930 (Ch12-13) vs. 1959 (Ch10)


1930 Nancy visits the Horner sisters and finds Allie distraught about her diminishing flock of chickens, lost to disease and foxes, and worrying over the lost income. 1959 Nancy visits the Horner sisters and finds Allison hanging out in the barn singing operatic trills and scales.


Nancy decides to join her friend Helen at a girl’s camp at Moon Lake, for the express purpose of finding the Topham’s summer cottage, which they furnished with Josiah Crowley’s old furniture. 1930 Nancy’s trip: “The road had not been dragged after a recent rain and the ruts were deep.” I had to look this up and learned interesting things about how gravel and dirt roads are maintained. Nancy gets a flat and changes it herself, and once again Google helped to educate me on the evolution of auto tire technology, so that I understand that her little blue roadster had the newest technology in balloon tires. 1959 modern Nancy changes her own tire, too, though apparently with more grace and less effort, as she no longer finds herself sprawled in the dirt with balloon tire on her chest.


1930 Nancy lies to get out of hiking with the other girls and sneaks off alone to take the camp’s boat out on the lake to look for the cottage, but the engine dies and she’s stranded on the lake for several hours as the area is deserted in the off-season. She keeps tinkering with the engine until she fixes it and can get home. The 1959 version is similar, except that Nancy doesn’t resort to lying and sneaking, she just declines to join the others and does her own thing instead. As usual, the snarky remarks come from other characters, while virtuous Nancy stays charitably silent. The 1930 Nancy got all the good lines again.


The first major example of the racism removed during the rewrites: 1930 Nancy is told about the “negro caretaker” at the Topham’s lake bungalow, and the interesting phrasing “they call him Jeff Tucker” rather than “his name is…”, as if he doesn’t have a real name or even a right to a real name. 1959 Nancy is told about "Jeff Tucker, the caretaker", who is only described as cartoonishly tall and skinny, without mention of race. The apparent solution to the racism in the first version is to make all the characters white.


...To be continued. 


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