|Issue # 16 May 1999 Editor: Bob Finnan|
Welcome to the Bayport Times.
This month featuring new collectible discoveries, letters, a reprint of Rick Kelsey's informative AB Bookman's Weekly article on the animated Hardy Boys TV show and a guest review of The Mystery Of The Flying Express.
Hardy Boys Mailing List
I recently set up a Hardy Boys mailing list.
You send your e-mails to this list and a copy gets distributed to everyone else on the list (there are currently around 75 subscribers.)
Please note that this is not the same as the Bayport Times mailing list, which I use to notify interested parties about the Bayport Times and other Hardy Boys news.
If you have not done so already, you'll have to register with the provider of this service, Onelist.com, which takes only a few minutes.
Foreign Hardy Ad!
Scan of back cover of a Rick Brant book published in Norway.
Provided by Jim Ogden, who is webmaster of the Rick Brant site.
Hardy Trivia Time
No fair looking at the books! All questions refer to the original, unrevised stories.
1: In what book did Chet take up taxidermy?
2: In what book did Frank & Joe "graduate" from high school?
3: What was Hurd Applegate's treasure?
4: Who is Harry Tanwick?
5: Who owned Cabin Island?
6: What is the only real fraternal organization mentioned in the series?
7: In what book did the Boys go hot-air ballooning?
8: In what book did Aunt Gertrude make her first appearance?
9: What is Chief Collig's first name?
10: Who owned the general store the Boys visited while camping on Cabin Island?
Your sleuth rating:
0-3: Detective Smuff 4-6: Chief Collig 7-9: Sam Radley All 10: Fenton Hardy
Joe: "Hey Chet, how come you don't have a girlfriend?"
Chet: "Are you kidding? Every time I go to the beach, the girls just flock around me!"
Iola: "Sure they do! They just want to lie in the shade!"
The Hardy Boys rate a mention in Stephen King's book "Bag Of Bones".
From "A Cold Cure? Who Nose?" in Dave Barry's Bad Habits by Dave Barry
Dave was spoofing TV cold remedy commercials - here's an excerpt from his ad for the fictional "Phlegm-B-Gone":
The scene shifts to an impressive office with a big desk. On a shelf behind the desk is a huge collection of books.
It is actually the complete Hardy Boys series but the camera doesn't get close enough for you to realize it.
From Feb. 1998 Publishers' Weekly list of all-time best selling kid's books:
#52 - The Tower Treasure (1,694,286 copies sold)
#69 - The House On The Cliff (1,282,153)
#88 - The Secret Of The Old Mill (1,056,053)
#110 - The Missing Chums (815,073)
#112 - Hunting For Hidden Gold (800,248)
That's 5,647,813 copies for the first five volumes alone!
To complete the Cover Art page, I need scans of the Tower Treasure first art and Hunting For Hidden Gold first art.
I'm currently using scans from the Applewood books and would like to replace them with scans of the originals.
I would like to set up a cover art gallery for the digests.
If anyone out there has a scanner and access to all the digests, please contact me. Thanks!
Volunteers needed to write articles and reviews of Hardy Boys books for future issues of The Bayport Times.
I need your help to locate the following books for my personal collection:
2 in 1 editions: #8 Sinister Signpost/Figure In Hiding; #9 Secret Warning/Twisted Claw
Hardy Boys Classic: Treasure Island
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR...
I've just added many new books to my SALES PAGE .
Many Hardy Boys with DJ's and dozen's of like new PC editions as well as many other series.
If you would like to contribute an article, letter or announce a new Hardy Boys discovery, please send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org - Please use "Bayport Times" as your subject heading.
See you next time!
New On The Shelves
King For A Day Clues Brothers #12
The Mystery Of Cabin Island Applewood Books Facsimile First Edition
New Collectible Discoveries
Screen Stories magazine - June 1978
Canadian TV Guide - January 7, 1978
Circus magazine - April 1977
Teen Beat magazine - February 1978
German Hardy Boys edition
Rock 'n' Roll Artists?
The Hardy Boys - In Books and an Animated TV Series
By Rick Kelsey
The following excerpt first appeared in AB Bookman's Weekly, Clifton, New Jersey, U.S.A., in the issue of December 7, 1998 and is reproduced here by permission of the author. - THANKS RICK !
Mention the Hardy Boys and a rock'n'roll band would probably be one of the last things you would think about the popular, mystery-solving brothers whose books have been published since the 1920s.
Probably not the image that Hardy Boys creator Edward Stratemeyer had in mind for the juvenile detectives. But in 1969, rock'n'roll artists were what Frank and Joe Hardy became for "The Hardy Boys" animated television series. In addition to solving mysteries and apprehending evildoers, the two brothers were part of a five-member band that performed songs between catching crooks, searching for lost treasures, solving mysteries, and rescuing victims.
It was definitely a different type of Hardy Boys and intriguing to anyone who has read or heard of the Hardy Boys. The idea of turning the brothers into a rock'n'roll band is so different from what fans expect after reading the books. That in itself is enough to make you curious about this series. Also, it was the only time that the Hardy Boys have been a cartoon show. But it was an unsuccessful time. After a two year run, the series was canceled. Since that time the cartoon series and rock'n'roll group have been an obscure and somewhat disregarded part of Hardy Boys history.
Try to find information about this series and you will discover that not much has been written about it. Most television history and children's cartoons books say little about the show. In fact, some of the entertainment encyclopedias which claim to be complete, don't even mention "The Hardy Boys" cartoon.
Try to watch the show and you will find that difficult. Rarely, if at all, have the cartoons appeared in the syndicated television rerun market and none of the episodes are available on the commercial videotape market.
And try to find the music from this Hardy Boys rock'n'roll band and you will probably be disappointed. The music doesn't exist today in the popular compact disc format and most people don't know that there was a Hardy Boys rock group. Others might assume that you are referring to Shaun Cassidy who played Joe Hardy in a live action Hardy Boys television series of the late 1970s. Because Cassidy became a teen idol and had a few hit songs, many might think that is the Hardy Boys music that you are referencing. But the Hardy Boys rock'n'roll band was long before Cassidy played Joe Hardy.
"The Hardy Boys" animated series premiered on September 6, 1969, on ABC-TV's Saturday morning cartoon lineup. Although it aired for two years, only one season's worth of episodes were made. According to most television history books, the last show aired on September 4, 1971.
The series was made by Filmation, which throughout the years contributed many cartoon shows to Saturday morning television, including "Superman," "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids," "Flash Gordon," Star Trek," "Blackstar," and "The Archie Show."
In fact, "The Archie Show," one of Filmation's biggest successes, may have been the reason the company turned the Hardy Boys into a rock'n'roll group. According to Michael Swanigan and Darrell McNeil's book "Animation by Filmation," it was the success of "The Archie Show" which probably brought about "The Hardy Boys" series.
In 1968, the Archie cartoon series, which was based on the popular comic books, premiered. This cartoon featured not only the regular comic book characters but also a rock group called The Archies. Both the show and the rock group were popular. Thus Filmation may have been trying for similar success with another popular children's series, the Hardy Boys.
A year later that attempt appeared. "The Hardy Boys" and "The Archie Show" were similar in that both were based on popular juvenile fictional characters, both had a rock group to go along with the show, and both had the same actors performing the animated characters' voices. Dallas McKennon and Jane Webb did many of the animated characters' voices on both shows.
However, "The Hardy Boys" was different. While "The Archie Show" emphasized comedy, "The Hardy Boys" was a mystery and adventure show. In fact, according to Swanigan and McNeil's book, it was the first animated mystery-adventure series ever for Saturday morning television.
Also, with "The Hardy Boys" the real life rock'n'roll band performers were seen. This was never done on "The Archie Show." The Archies rock group always officially appeared in animated form. The real performers were only heard, never seen. With "The Hardy Boys" series, there were two distinguishable sets of Hardy Boys: the cartoon characters and the rock'n'roll band.
Additionally, "The Archie Show" was a faithful adaptation of the popular comic books. Overall, the characters looked and acted the same as they did in the comics. But when fans of the Hardy Boys books first saw the cartoon show, they were probably surprised or even shocked. Frank and Joe had long hair and wore brightly colored mod clothing including bell-bottomed pants and high-heeled boots which were popular at the time. Joe even wore a knotted scarf around his neck. Quite a different look from the plain, clean cut portrayal that was always described in the books.
Similarly dressed were three other characters to complete the band. Red-haired and plump Chubby Morton was a variation of longtime friend and fellow adventurer in the books, Chet Morton. Two new characters were Wanda Kay Breckenridge and Pete Jones. Wanda Kay was the only female in the band and was a blonde-haired beauty whose character may have been inspired by Frank's blond-haired girlfriend in the books, Callie Shaw. Pete was an African-American and a character created solely for the cartoon.
Together the five characters traveled around in a brightly painted Rolls Royce Silver Ghost car and solved mysteries and performed songs. Each half-hour cartoon show was divided into two mystery/adventures. The band performed an original song in the second adventure of each show. Most of the television encyclopedias say that there were 17 episodes to the series. However, getting a total count is difficult as the episodes weren't titled. Many fans think there were more than 17 shows.
But what is undisputed about the episodes is that Filmation used the books for the cartoon's story ideas and plots. Every episode was based, somewhat, on one of the Hardy Boys books. How much of the books that were actually used in the cartoon episodes varied. Often, the cartoon stories were different from the books. However, certain story elements made the episodes easily recognizable as having come from a particular Hardy Boys adventure. The cartoon version of "Hardy Boys #36: The Secret of Pirates Hill" has a clue hidden in a pirate's sword handle, an old hidden cannon being the key to finding the treasure, the location of the treasure being revealed by firing the cannon, and the resulting repercussion of the cannon blast knocking out the criminals. All of these elements and scenes are from the book.
In other cases, the cartoon appeared to have used only the title of a Hardy Boys book as the idea for the story. For example, the episode that was based on "Hardy Boys #26: The Phantom Freighter" simply has some freighters in the story. Otherwise, the cartoon is unrecognizable from the book.
Often certain scenes in the cartoon made you wonder if the people working on the series even read any of the books. Joe Hardy had brown hair in the series instead of the blonde hair as always described in the books. In one episode, Iola Morton is referred to as Frank Hardy's girlfriend. Iola was Joe's girlfriend in the books. Besides being the only animated version of the Hardy Boys, according to Swanigan and McNeil's book, the series made history with several elements.
First, the Pete Jones character was especially significant for Saturday morning television cartoon history. Swanigan and McNeil report that Pete was the first African-American to be featured in a Saturday morning cartoon. Second, some of the stories dealt with drug smugglers. These episodes actually had the characters saying the words "dope" and "drugs." While that may seem insignificant today, in 1969 that was a big step for children's television.
Third, nearly all of the fighting was done off screen. At the time there was a campaign against violence in cartoons. However, it would be difficult to do a Hardy Boys adventure show without Frank and Joe and company battling the bad guys. Filmation was able to appease both camps by doing the fighting off screen, in silhouette, or in comical fashion. Usually the cartoon showed the heroes leaping at the crooks, everybody fell off screen, and a series of fighting sound effects was heard. When the noise stopped, the camera panned to the winners of the battle.
Sometimes, heavy set Chubby Morton would subdue the evildoers through laughable means. In one episode, Chubby raced after fleeing crooks, but tripped, rolled, and knock them over as if he were a bowling ball and the evildoers were bowling pins. In another episode, he actually overpowered all of the bad guys by wrecking their plane. How was this accomplished? Chubby fell onto the wing of the plane and, since he was chubby, the wing broke.
Fourth, according to "Animation by Filmation," "The Hardy Boys" show was the first Saturday morning cartoon to have public service announcements in which the cartoon characters warned about the dangers of drug abuse and smoking cigarettes and encouraged seat belt use.
One of the authors includes a personal note about these public service announcements: "As a youngster, I vividly remember Pete's admonishment against smoking, it being the first time a black cartoon character spoke to me about the perils of smoking. So I credit the show for my not smoking now."
Other than that, the cartoon was not memorable and probably didn't win any animation awards. Throughout every episode, the same animation sequences are used and then reused on different backgrounds. Every time the band performed, practically the same animation was shown.
Paul Mular, a Hardy Boys fan and collector and co-author of the book "Hardy and Hardy Investigations," thinks that the animated musical sequences were copied from "The Archie Show." "The general movements during those scenes were taken right from the Archies. It was the same movements, different backgrounds. I think they had the Hardy Boys animators draw over the Archies' animated outlines," Mular said.
And rarely were any of the characters seen in different clothes. The animators had the characters in the same bell bottom pants, high-heeled boots, flashy shirts, vests or jackets whether they were exploring a cave, riding an ice boat over a frozen lake, walking around a swamp, hiking through the desert, or traveling down river in a canoe. Often the stories were weak and had the characters doing unrealistic things. In one episode, the Hardy Boys were pursuing thieves who were about to rob a recording studio. It just so happened to be the same recording studio in which they were going to perform a song. So, what do the Hardys do when they spot the crooks about to make a robbery?
"Wait. Give them some time to get started," Joe says.
"Right. Come on. We'll do our number first," Frank replies.
The Hardys performed their song and then pursued the crooks who were still robbing the studio. The bad guys must not have been in much of hurry. In another episode, the Hardys are in a helicopter pursuing bad guys who are traveling in a biplane. They jump from the helicopter onto the biplane's top wing. While the biplane is flying at full speed, Frank, Joe, Pete, and a guide who is with them on the case, have no trouble standing on top of the wing without any means of support. Then one of the crooks stands up from one of the open cockpits and threatens them with a wrench. Why the bad guy didn't just turn the plane and dump them off of the wing?
For the musical element of the cartoon, a real life rock'n'roll band was formed. Each band member resembled one of the cartoon characters and was often identified as that character instead of using their real name.
In 1969, I remember seeing the real band for the first time while watching an ABC-TV primetime special for the new cartoon season. Basically, this special TV show promoted the new cartoons with a framing device for the characters from "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" sitcom. The framing device storyline included situations in which previews of the new cartoons were shown.
With "The Hardy Boys" preview, there was a surprise. When their animated clip ended, the special switched back to the "Ghost and Mrs. Muir" characters. In the scene, Mrs. Muir's children were playing a game with Claymore (played by Charles Nelson Reilly) while they watched "The Hardy Boys" preview. Claymore cheated, was caught, and all of a sudden, the ghost, Captain Daniel Gregg (Edward Mulhare), appeared on their television screen and ordered Claymore to stop cheating. Afterwhich, the children begged the Captain to bring back the Hardy Boys.
The Captain agreed but added that as a special treat he would bring the Hardy Boys to life. With his magical powers, the real life Hardy Boys band appeared on the screen and performed the song "Love and Let Love." Probably to emphasize the band's connection to the cartoon, each of the band members performed in front of a lifesize picture of the animated character they were identified as.
Those real band members (and the Hardy Boys character they were often identified as) were Reed Kailing (Frank Hardy), Jeff Taylor (Joe Hardy), Nibs Soltysiak (Chubby Morton), Bob Crowder (Pete Jones), and Deven English (Wanda Kay Breckenridge). And they also appeared on "The Hardy Boys" cartoon's opening and closing credits performing the theme song "Here Come the Hardys." But once the show started, the animated characters took over. Other actors did the talking voices of the characters and when it came time during the episode for the band to perform, the animated characters were seen while you heard the real life musicians.
Throughout the show's run, "The Hardy Boys" products and promotional materials alternated between using the real life band members' names or identifying them as playing the characters on the cartoon. For example, although you saw the real people performing the opening and closing theme song on the show, the credits never listed their names. However, a newsletter from "The Hardy Boys" fan club kit identified each of the real band members and said that they played the fictional character on the cartoon series. But the record albums didn't identify the band members by their real names. Instead they were identified as the fictional characters.
According to an article in the March 1970 issue of "Golden Magazine, a children's magazine during the 1960s and 1970s, these musicians were chosen for the Hardy Boys band through auditions.
The cartoon characters, Frank and Joe Hardy, Chubby Morton, Pete Jones and Wanda Kay Breckenridge, come to life each week as Reed Kailing, Jeff Taylor, Nibs Soltysiak, Bob Crowder and Deven English open and close the show with the theme song, 'Here Come The Hardys.'
Here's how it all came to be. The cartoon characters were created and the stories were written; now all the producers had to do was find five young people who looked like the characters. So off they went on a coast to coast talent search and found the astonishing look-alikes all in the Midwest.
Fan club kit materials told more about the "astonishing look-alikes." A 45rpm record, which was a recording of all the band members telling about themselves, and a newsletter had tidbits and highlights about the musicians' lives. According to these materials:
Reed Kailing came from Waterford, Wisconsin. He played the guitar and while in high school formed a group called "The Destinations." One of the biggest highlights of his band was performing at former President Lyndon Baines Johnson daughter's wedding or engagement party, depending on which information source you cite. The newsletter said that it was the wedding while on the record, Kailing said that it was the engagement party. Kailing also worked on Milwaukee TV stations and then went to Chicago where he auditioned for the Hardy Boys band.
Jeff Taylor was born and raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin. Taylor got interested in music while in high school and did gigs in Milwauke with his group "The Messengers." He gave up music for a while to become an art teacher.
Norbet (Nibs) Soltysiak played the saxophone in high school. He was offered the John Phillips Sousa Award Scholarship from Roosevelt University, but attended Mayfair City College and Loyola U instead. Soltysiak studied music and psychology. Then he joined the Hudson Bay Company and concentrated on music. He said he got picked for the Hardy Boys because he can sing and he's "chubby."
Bob Crowder was raised in Cincinnati. When he was a kid, he did tap dancing with relatives. They called themselves "The Stepbrothers." He attended the University of Chicago and the Chicago Conservatory of Music. When Crowder and his brother had their first gig, they drove all night to get to the place. When they arrived, the building had burned down. He played the drums for Jerry Butler, Fontella Bass, The Shirelles, and The Esquires.
Deven English was from Denver and studied voice at the University of Colorado. She performed in plays such as "Oklahoma" and "My Fair Lady." While at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, rehearsing, Vic Damone heard her and asked her to appear on his television show. "That started everything," she said. She sang at colleges, on local TV, and a TV workshop in Chicago.
During the cartoon's two-year run, the group produced two albums and several 45rpm records.
The first album was titled "Here Come the Hardy Boys" (RCA LSP-4217). The album's front cover has the Hardy Boys logo from the cartoon series largely displayed with a photo of the "real" Hardy Boys rock group posing in front of and around a statue and holding balloons marked "Lincoln Park Zoo."
There were 11 songs on the album: Here Come The Hardys; Those Country Girls; One Time in a Million; That's That; (I Want You to) Be My Baby (Not the song of the same title by the Ronettes); Sink or Swim; Namby-Pamby; My Little Sweetpea; Sha-La-La (Not the song of the same title by Mannfred Mann); Feels So Good; and Love and Let Love.
The second album was titled: "Wheels/The Hardy Boys" (RCA LSP-4315) and the front cover showed the real Hardy Boys rock group and their reflection in the hubcap of a large wheel on the left of the cover.
Like the first, the second album had 11 songs: Wheels; Old Man Moses' Front Porch Rhythm Band; Carnival Time; Good, Good Lovin'; Let the Sun Shine Down; Long, Long Way to Nashville; Love Train; Archie Brown; Where Would I Be; I Hear the Grass Singin'; and Baby, This is the Last Time.
There were also some Hardy Boys 45rpm records. Two are known to exist. One, RCA 9795, had "Sha-La-La" and "Wheels" on it and the other, RCA 9831, had "Love Train" and "Good, Good Lovin'" on it. (Editor: Since this was written, a third Hardy Boys 45 has turned up.)
Suffice to say that the band never made it to the big time. None of their songs became a national hit although Swanigan and McNeil's "Animation by Filmation" says that "Wheels" and "Love Train" made the American Bandstand pop charts. But nowadays most people don't even know that there was a Hardy Boys rock'n'roll band. Even when "The Hardy Boys" cartoon originally aired, the band was not well known. And finding any of their records was not easy. When I was a kid, I remember trying to locate a Hardy Boys record after watching the cartoon. I searched many record stores and never found it. After much begging and pleading, my parents special ordered the album. Had it not been for special order capabilities at a local record store, I would have never been able to get the Hardy Boys' first album.
And the second album? Even though I was a fan of the cartoon series and the rock group, I didn't even know the second album existed until a few years ago. One day while looking through a collectible record album store, I accidentally found it. The album was still shrinkwrapped and had the original record store's bargain bin price tag on it.
Today, the records are collectibles but mainly to some Hardy Boys fans. Mainstream rock'n'roll fans and record collectors show little interest. For example, "Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums 4th Edition" by Neal Umphred doesn't even list the Hardy Boys' records. A notice in the book says that the "common" records (those with an established value of $20 or less) were deleted from the listings in order to make room for the "ever-accumulating data." Because of that, the Hardy Boys' records are not in that guide.
According to Mular, not much respect is given to the cartoon series or the rock group by Hardy Boys' fans. "The series didn't really capture the interest," he said. "Pretty much everybody overlooks the series."
Mular owns actual 16mm film copies of the cartoon series and remembers showing some of the episodes during a book fair a few years ago. There was little interest in the shows and most of the remarks about them concerned the voice for the animated Chubby Morton. "When Chubby Morton opened his mouth, they wanted to turn away," Mular said. "Everybody complains about Chubby's voice."
In spite of the rock group's and cartoon's lack of success, both definitely made a mark upon the Hardy Boys phenomenon. In addition to the record albums, many Hardy Boys' products were generated from the rock group and the cartoon series. To this day, Hardy Boys fans and collectors seek the collectibles which include a game, a toy car with plastic figures of the characters, four comic books based on the series, a Viewmaster adventure pack, a Halloween costume, a fan club kit, and animation art. Also, some influence may have been made upon the books When "Hardy Boys 22: The Flickering Torch Mystery" was revised in the early 1970s, the new edition came out with a cover of Frank and Joe playing guitars. And as part of the story, Frank and Joe were members of a band that they had formed with friends. Had some of the writers and editors for the book series been watching the cartoon show?
"I'm sure there is a correlation there. Prior to that there was little mention of the Hardys showing any interest in popular music. That revision of that book came out in 1971. That would have probably been written while the cartoon series was on the air," Mular said.
So even though the cartoon may not have been the best or most liked version of the young detectives, a place in the Hardy Boys' history was definitely made and is still around.
NOTE: Information sources on "The Hardy Boys" animated series and rock group are scarce. If you know of any materials about these subjects, please email the author of this article at RSKEL@aol.com.
"Animation by Filmation" by Michael Swanigan and Darrell McNeil, Blackbear Press, 1993
"Series Book Central - Home of Juvenile Series Books and Pulp Heroes" website managed by Bob Finnan. Http://members.aol.com/Hardyboy01/index.html
"The Hardy Boys," Golden Magazine, March 1970
"Children's Television: The First 35 Years, 1946-1981 Part 1: Animated Cartoon Series" by George W. Woolery, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1983
Interviews with various Hardy Boys fans
This Month: The Mystery Of The Flying Express
Reviewed by Tom Hoffman
This is my review of the original 1941 version of the 20th volume of the Hardy Boys series.
It has always been my favorite story in the canon, probably because I'm a fanatical railroad buff.
THE PLOT: Frank and Joe surprise a burglar in their house posing as a locksmith. The man manages to bluff his way to freedom using a strange, stilted way of speaking. Later, Fenton calls the boys into his study and asks for their help in tracking down a dangerous ring of spies, who are bold enough to establish a training school for spies right in the United States, "somewhere in the West." The detectives are chagrined to learn that this conversation was broadcast up and down the block – the "locksmith" wired the house with an amplifier and was outside listening.
The next day, the Boys conduct a futile search around Bayport for the burglar. They don't' find him, but do encounter a speech expert by the name of Professor Transor in a restaurant. He tells the boys that the locksmith's accent is entirely artificial, taken on by the man to conceal his true national origin. Then he relates a strange tale about one Professor Morse, who mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Morse is a linguistics expert who had been doing work for the War Department.
At the Bayport railroad station, the boys spy their locksmith crouching by the side of the tracks next to a nearby trestle. The Flying Express, a transcontinental luxury train, roars past, and a package comes sailing off the observation platform for the locksmith. The boys chase the man onto the trestle and he drops the package into the river and escapes. The boys recover the package by boat. It consists entirely of newspapers from a western town called Saddler with certain words underlined. One of them is "Hunt."
The next day, the boys follow the suspect's footprints from the trestle to a roadside lunch counter. The man lost his watch there, but sends a friend (E. Trett), who turns out to be a ringleader in the gang. Later, Frank and Joe assist their father in capturing one of the spies at a fleabag hotel on Bayport's waterfront. Returning to the station for that day's Flying Express, they luck out when the train makes an emergency stop and allows them to hear a conversation on the observation platform. Two men, using the same stilted manner of speech, are discussing supplies and camps. One is named Hunt.
Fenton Hardy orders the boys to overtake the train Mr. Hunt is on and follow him to the spy camp. As they prepare to board the plane the next morning, they see the locksmith get on and deliver a package to another man who stays aboard. As the plane goes west, it encounters severe turbulence. This badly frightens the suspect, who turns out to be Trett. In panic, he rips up a letter, lest it be read if the plane crashes. The Boys distract him and recover the pieces.
When the plane makes an emergency landing in a field, Trett panics and runs from the aircraft. In one of those coincidences that can only happen in the Hardy Boys, the plane comes down very close to the spy camp. The boys fail to catch him. Because of the storm, their connection with the Flying Express at Bainville is severed, and they land at Beegle instead.
The Boys separate, Joe accompanying detective "Kelly" back to the site of the plane's landing, Frank remaining at the Beegle hotel. Frank pieces together the scraps of paper torn up by Trett and determines them to be a schedule of spies riding the Flying Express. Meanwhile Joe and Kelly discover a strange ranch a short distance from where the airliner made its landing. No cattle or other ranch animals are in evidence; plus the rancher and all the cowboys use the same stilted manner of speech as the locksmith! Frank, worried about Joe, finds a friend in "Weather-Eye" and they rescue Joe and Kelly from the evil rancher Pete Rangle.
The boys develop a complex scheme using fake telegrams to prove that the men on Trett's list are indeed riding the Flying Express on the appointed days. Joe flies to Bainville to board the train in search of "Fox". Finding him by means of a phony telegram, he loses the trail when he is thrown from the rear bumper of Fox's car after he leaves the train at Saddler. The next day, he discovers that Saddler was the place where Professor Morse's trail ended several years previously!
The next day, Frank flies to Bainville to deliver a fake telegram to "Thorn" on that day's train. After shaking off a pursuer, he gets the message to Thorn and follows him to Saddler. Much to his dismay, Frank discovers that Thorn sent a telegram to "Waxen", the next day's traveler who was to receive yet another fake telegram from Joe! Realizing that their plan has fallen apart, Frank is desperate to warn Joe before the spies catch on. He hitches an all-night ride with a trucker to Beegle, but fails to find Joe there. He begs a ride to Bainville from a pilot in a last-ditch attempt to intercept his brother before he can board the train. He makes it by the skin of his teeth and they board the Flying Express together.
On the train, they identify Waxen by his speech, and vow to follow him. But then there is a catastrophic train wreck, which apparently results in a number of fatalities. Neither the Boys nor Waxen are hurt. In another "only in the Hardy Boys" coincidences, the train wreck is near both the Rangle ranch and the spy camp itself. Following Waxen that night and the next day, they finally discover the mysterious spy camp behind a sapling fence. After dark, they enter the compound to investigate. They listen in on a meeting attended by everyone, then investigate the empty buildings. They are surprised by a man who turns out to be Professor Morse. He had been duped into coming to the camp to teach the spies to lose their accents and talk like Americans. He believed that the institution was a business school. The boys manage to convince him of the truth, and persuade him to leave with them. They hustle back to the rail line, and flag down the Flying Express before the pursuing spies can catch up with them. In Saddler, they go to the police and notify the federal authorities and Fenton Hardy. Both show up the next day, and the spy camp is invaded by a force of Federal agents. The entire gang is captured in an underground bunker where they had been hiding.
It is discovered that the Beegle police force had been in league with the spies. Other loose ends are wrapped up, the bad guys go to jail and everyone is happy.
COMMENTS : This is a thrill-a-minute story, and the action never stops. The boys work on different aspects of the case separately, and this requires the reader to pay attention in order to keep things straight. The problems with this book are well documented by Robert Crawford and others: Chief Collig becomes Chief Finch, Laura Hardy becomes Mildred and Fenton acquires a beard. These are minor matters, however, and do not detract from the plot. On another point, however, Crawford is dead wrong. In The Lost Hardys, he maintains that the Flying Express was used by the spy camp to disperse the school's graduates. If this was done, it isn't stated in the story. Rather, the spies who rode the train appear to be maintaining contact with the East Coast, arranging for supplies, etc.
Given the timing of the book (1941), the spies are probably Nazis; they certainly are not Japanese. The exclamation "Agh" used by several of them could be a thinly disguised "Ach". However, just as "Ivan" in The Sinister Sign Post is identified as "foreign" rather than "Russian", the reader is never informed explicitly as to their nationality.
There are a few problems with this story from the viewpoint of a railroad man. On the day of the wreck, the boys took seats in sleepers, which would have been an expensive luxury for a day trip. When they flagged down the train, it was travelling at a high rate of speed past the site of the preceding day's wreck. There would not have been time to clean the wreckage up, and any passing train would have been under extreme "slow orders", if indeed the line had been reopened at all. Also, there was never a through train between the East and West before 1993. Whether Bayport is in Maine, New Jersey, or elsewhere on the East Coast, both Boys and spies would have been required to change trains in Chicago or St. Louis.
The wreck was caused by the spies "running a freight train onto the wrong track." This implies that the spies could run their own trains, which they most emphatically could NOT do. A railroad is not like a public highway, which any vehicle can enter or leave at will. Rather, it is the private property of the railroad company, which maintains strict control of all movements on the tracks using a complex system of dispatching, control towers and signals. Any unauthorized locomotive would be quickly noticed by the dispatcher and dealt with by railroad police.
RATING: Despite the problems noted above, I must give this story an "A". Again, bear in mind that I am partial to it because I'm a railroad buff in general, a passenger train enthusiast in particular. The minor inconsistencies with the rest of the series undoubtedly stem from the fact that someone other than Leslie McFarlane wrote the story, and simply was not paying attention.
From: Jake Brownell (Jakeab2@aol.com)
If you take all the books written by Leslie McFarlane and only read the revised texts as I have, a funny pattern seems to occur. According to the copyright page of #1 The Tower Treasure, when the revised text was written the text was only altered, and I liked reading this book. In #2 The House on the Cliff the text was again just altered and this book remains one of my favorites. I really don't like #3 The Secret of the Old Mill, which was drastically altered. The Missing Chums, Hunting for Hidden Gold, and The Secret of the Caves were all drastically altered and I never did like them. In fact I thought Hunting for Hidden Gold was so bad, I don't think I even finished the book! Obviously this will not occur with every book, but it sure is strange the way the pattern occurs. Has this pattern occured to you?
From: email@example.com (Tom Morey)
I wonder how many people had the same experience I had. When I first read the Hardy Boys (around 1970) the boys were 17 and 18, in High School, and the stories followed no traceable chronology - i.e., they had about 25 spring breaks and 8 Christmas vacations Frank's senior year. Nevertheless, the books had a definite order, were numbered, and had copywrite dates from the late 50's and 60's.
I purchased two books - The Melted Coins and the Phantom Freigher - with copywrite dates from the 40's. Yet they bore numbers showing them coming well into the series.
I was then given a copy of the Great Airport Mystery, which bore a copywrite date of 1929. My copy of the Tower Treasure was copywrited in 1958.
These three books had different type, longer stories, and momentous events (i.e., the Hardy's graduating from high school) unmentioned in any of my later books.
Now, here was a mystery.
I moved in 1971 to a small town that had a library that had maybe 15 more of the original series. None of these had dust jackets (anymore) so as far as I knew the books came out in plain brown covers. At any rate, I started to piece it all together.
The originals had a more leisurely pace, more humour, and were more varied in construction. They also had (in the first 10 or so books) a consistent chronology, complete with aging, holidays, etc. They concentrated on creating a at least somewhat believable local world for the boys to move in.
The newer books were more noticeably formulaic, but also had more exotic locations (Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Deep South, the Far West, the Carribean, etc.), and - and this was big for a nine year old kid - usually one or two "hobbies" per book (stamp collecting, coin collecting , fencing, bronco riding, football, falconry, photography - you-name-it.) The boys could go anywhere, do anything, drive, race, fly, etc. Quite a dream. At any rate, the newer books did have their charms.
At this time I used to have dreams that there had been books with other titles published in the Hardy Boys Series that I had never seen. You know, I would be looking at the back of a blue Grosset & Dunlap hardback, and many of the titles would have different names then the ones I knew.
I did not know until much later in life - I think it was when the Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew shows were on TV, and TV Guide ran an article - anything about the Stratemeyer Syndicate. It finally all made sense to me.
I wonder how many other people out there read these books for years and discovered the "mystery" of the updated editions of the books without ever solving it.
The history of these books is a subject of real fascination. I think the original 58 books can be grouped into recognizeable "periods" of about 10 books each:
1 - 10, "Bayport Period". Stories except #5 (Hunting for Hidden Gold) center around Bayport and environs. Characters age.
11 - 17, "Interim Period". Boys enter the netherworld of non-aging. Stories start to venture away from Bayport (i.e., Mexico) and get into more exotic crimes.
18 - 26, "Experimental Period". The first of these, "The Twisted Claw", has a world conspiracy story taking place in a secret country. The last "The Phantom Freighter" has a device that makes a large ship unapproachable by other ships. Many people seem to have favorite books in this period, perhaps because the plots do have a lot of imagination.
27 - 36, "Gimmick Period". Every story has a new hobby, and a new location. Each contains a certain amount of genuine educational material about the locale involved. Locales still mostly limited to U.S.
37 - 47, "Travel Period". Similar to period before, only travel becomes more exotic (Alaska, China, Mexico [30 books later] and Iceland).
48 - 58, "Ridiculous Period". Exaggerated versions of all characteristics so far. Possible world conspiracies, boys travelling to remotest corners of globe, all attempts at chronology given up, little or no mention of the fact they are supposed to be in school, wildly varied hobbies that are not remembered the next book.
I realize that my letter has stretched into an unusable length. Thank you for your newsletter. I will continue to read and enjoy.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Deb Learing )
I am looking for some information regarding Joe and Frank Hardy's mother- Laura Hardy. I believe that she was written into the books but is no longer living in regard to the television series starring Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson. Can you help me with this information? Was this explained in the book or in the pilot for the 77-79 series? How did she die? Any information you could give me would be appreciated. Thankyou.
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