Trixie Beldon and me

By Sally Carpenter

I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but one Christmas my parents gave me the first two Trixie Beldon books, “Secret of the Mansion” and “The Red Trailer Mystery.” Since then I’ve gone on the acquire the first 15 books of the series, all in the original (and cheaply made) Whitman hardcover editions.

I liked Trixie because, at the time, she was much like me. Thirteen-year-old Trixie lived on the family farm in Sleepyside-on-Hudson in upstate New York. My parents didn’t have a farm, but we lived in the country on a big plot of land, with fruit trees in the backyard and cows grazing in the field next door.

Trixie had two older brothers who teased her a lot; so did I. One of Trixie’s brothers was 11 months older; one of my brothers was a little more than a year older than me.

The Beldon family had a pet dog; I had a cat that we took in as a kitten from the barn cat of the neighbor across the road.

Trixie wasn’t good in math; arithmetic was never my strong subject either. Trix has to do household chores and help with the farm work, which she often grumbled about. I had to dry dishes and pick up the fallen fruit outside with the same enthusiasm. For a brief time I mowed the lawn but couldn’t push the X*%$#@ lawnmower up the hill.

Trixie’s best friend was Honey Wheeler, a rich girl who moved into the Manor House down the road from the Beldon farm. I didn’t have a best friend who lived nearby, but I pretended that Honey lived in the house atop the hill east of my home.

Trixie had short curly blonde hair. As a kid I had short curly brown hair, which has since grown out to long curly brown and gray hair.

Like my favorite sleuth, I didn’t think I was pretty. We share many of the same insecurities. I didn’t go sleuthing on mysteries, but I loved reading about Trixie’s travels and adventures.

I belonged to Girl Scouts, 4-H and the church youth group. Trixie made her own club, The Bob-Whites (they used the bob-white whistle to alert other club members), comprised of her brothers and friends. The BWs main purpose was to do good deeds for others and raise money for charitable causes.

The Beldons were comfortable but not rich. Trix had to earn her allowance. The Bob-Whites had to raise the monies they needed for their service projects and clubhouse repairs. My parents likewise watched their pennies.

Unfortunately, Trixie never achieved the fame of that other girl sleuth, oh, what’s her name. Trixie only last 39 books; no new stories are being written. Nancy Drew has gone on to well over twice that number as well as spin-offs and new variations of the character, with more new books each year.

I always wanted to see a Trixie Beldon movie, but one never came to pass. Just as well. If a studio tackled Trix today, they’d update her, give her a cell phone and MP3 player, have her talk about her personality issues with a school counselor, and make the Bob-Whites hang out at a mall instead of meeting in their homemade club house.

When I got older I read a number of Nancy Drews and, with apologizes to all of you Drew fans, the character never appealed to me in the same way as Trix.

I admire Nancy’s smarts, perseverance and bravery. But she never seemed real. In the early books Nancy was 16 years old but she didn’t attend school. Later she aged up to 18 and a high school graduate, but she never mentioned her school days. She didn’t attend college, hold a job (yet had unlimited funds to spend) or even help out around the house.

Nancy had no life outside of sleuthing. She didn’t belong to any clubs or sororities She had two best friends, Bess and George, but their personalities are not developed beyond “chubby” and “tomboy.” Nancy had a dad and a housekeeper, who mainly stay in the background.

The Drew books focused on solving the crime; the Beldon novels were more interested in the characters and their lives/interactions.

Trixie has a full range of friends, family and townspeople, all with distinct personalities. Her friends have interesting backgrounds. Naturally, school plays a big part in Trixie’s life, although in many of the books she’s either on a school vacation or traveling out of state.

Trixie’s biggest drawback is that she’s too young to drive. Her mobility is limited to where she can walk, ride a bike or ride a horse. She must rely on her oldest brother or another adult to drive her. So most of her sleuthing is limited to her town or family vacations. Nancy Drew has her own roadster and drives with abandon, seemingly without having ever put more gas in the car.

The Hardy Boys have them all beat. Frank and Joe not only drive but even ride motorcycles, pilot motorboats, and fly airplanes. No doubt they could man a space ship if the need arose.

Regardless of preference, all of these “juvenile” mysteries serve a good purpose: to encourage children to read and to present young characters that overcome obstacles, use their brains, and solve puzzles. Many fans of Trixie and Nancy grew up to pen mysteries of their own.

While I tip my hat to Nancy Drew, my heart belongs to the girl sleuth who struggles with her math homework.

 

 

 

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18 Responses to Trixie Beldon and me

  1. sallyhandley says:

    Thanks for this reminder. I know I read Trixie Beldon books, but forgot all about them until I read this loving tribute. Hope I can hunt down at least one to read.

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    • Hi, Sally. I just did a search on eBay and found a number of Trixies for sale at good prices. eBay has more of the “older” hardcovers than Amazon, which is selling mostly the paperbacks, which IMHO, have the least attractive cover art. Happy reading!

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  2. Carmen Will says:

    I had a nice collection of Trixie Belden books, but sold them when we left Wisconsin for Arizona. This article has inspired me to start collecting them all over again! I’m sad to say that I also sold my Judy Bolton mystery collection…Judy was another great girl sleuth from the 30s and 40s.

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    • Hi Carmen. I’m going to start re-reading my Trixie books, which are falling apart although I’ve always treated them with care. Darn cheap covers! Judy Bolton is harder to find but I’ve heard she’s just as good or better than Nancy Drew. Now I want to start looking for Judy books!

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  3. I read and loved Trixie Belden. Loved Loved Loved! And I agree about Nancy. However, my youngest daughter preferred Nancy Drew to Trixie, both the “classics” and the reissued/updated Nancy Drew series. Maybe because Trixie seemed too “young” for today’s pre-teens, I’m not sure. I still have all my Trixie AND Nancy books 🙂

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    • Allison, I love your tastes in reading! Trixie does seem a little too old-fashioned for today’s readers but I feel “updating” her would take away the charm and innocence. I guess each generation has its own preferences in books. Nancy Drew exists in a timeless sort of town whereas Trixie’s world is firmly rooted in the culture of the 1940s/1950s.

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  4. skyecaitlin says:

    What a wonderful post, Sally. I loved Trixie Beldon (as well as Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames).

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  5. patyjag says:

    I don’t remember reading Trixie Belden. My mom bought me a set of Nancy Drew mysteries and I read all of those and the Hardy Boys she bought for my brother. From how you describe Trixie, she would have fit more into the way I grew up as well. Thanks for a great post!

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    • Hi, Paty. Trixie never got the PR of Nancy Drew and isn’t as well known. She was younger than most girl sleuths, so many kids stopped reading her when they started with Nancy. My brother got Hardy Boys books, which I read, but for some reason I never got any Nancys. Just as well, I have a bunch now that I bought at a library bookstore. But after reading those I still like Trix better.

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  6. vicki says:

    I loved Trixie. I wanted to be Trixie and have brothers instead of sisters and solve crimes and on and on. I’ve named two characters Trixie. Sigh.

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  7. gkparker says:

    Trixie Beldon was the only teen mystery book series I ever read. The only reason I picked up the first one was that it featured horses. I wouldn’t read anything in my preteen years that didn’t have horses and back then they were pretty rare. Trixie Beldon had them and once I’d read the first one I fell in love. I was Trixie in my dream of having a horse. Unfortunately, I never ended up with a rich best friend who owned a stable full. Lol.

    Thanks for reminding me of those long ago days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was jealous that Trixie got to roam around on a horse. She and Honey did much of their “footwork” on horseback. Actually Trixie never had her own horse; she always rode one from the Wheeler stable. The first line in the first book is something like “Gee, Moms, I’ll just die if I don’t get a pony.”

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  8. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never heard of Trixie Beldon. Now, I am intrigued. Thanks for sharing.

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    • sandyfairfax says:

      Hi, Debra. Always happy to introduce Trix to a potential reader! I think the stories still hold up even though they’re a little dated.

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  9. casojka123 says:

    I was a Nancy Drew fan. I think Trixie Beldon came along later. I also loved Judy Bolton. I’m glad Carmen mentioned her. Sisters in Crime/LA had a guest speaker about a year or so ago who specializes in selling those old books: Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, the Hardy Boys, etc. Interesting stuff. I remember being crushed when I learned that Carolyn Keene wasn’t a real author but several different people. Great post, Sally!

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    • I’m going to have to read a Judy Bolton book; I’ve head from many people who love her. Yes, I was at the SinC/LA meeting with the speaker who discussed the Stratemeyer publishing empire (that’s how I think of it). I bought an overpriced book from the Christopher Cool Teen Spy series, which I’d never heard of before.

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