Friday, April 26, 2013

"The Haunted Bridge" was the title that caught my seven-year-old eye.

My mother and I were standing in our hot, musty "attic"—really just an unfinished spare bedroom in our midwestern Cape Cod. It was late morning on an early summer day in the mid-1970s. My mother had decided I was ready for a Nancy Drew mystery, and I could read it all by myself.

I was thrilled.

Laid out before me in a long, shallow box was book after book from my mother's childhood. Two rows of faded blue spines inscribed with titles like "The Secret of Shadow Ranch," "The Message in the Hollow Oak," and "The Mystery of Lilac Inn." All so tantalizing. All for me.

For some reason I can't recall, it was "The Haunted Bridge" I wanted. I took it downstairs and out the door and sat on our concrete front steps. My father was mowing the yard. On the book's jacketless cover was the title and the silhouette of a girl with a magnifying glass. Just inside was a pen-and-ink drawing of a young woman wearing old-fashioned clothes (definitely not 70s attire!) hiding behind a tree, watching a man dig a hole in the ground in the dead of night. I was fascinated.

I started to read.

My father finished mowing the front lawn. And the back. Lunch came and went. I sat on those hard, cold steps for hours, lost.

I was hooked.