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The
Hardy Boys
Webzine
The Bayport Times
Issue # 28         September 2000       Editor: Bob Finnan
The Unofficial
Hardy Boys
Home Page
  Bayport Beat  

Welcome to the Bayport Times.
This month featuring a look at the infamous The Disappearing Floor , new collectible discoveries, letters, the Mike Humbert Department and more!
Cabin Island Site
Over the past few years Peter Cullum has shared some of his excellent Hardy Boys related art work with us here in the Bayport Times. Now Pete's The Mystery of Cabin Island web site is up and running at http://www.cabinisland.com/
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New Collectible Discoveries

 

TV Week magazine
January 1978 supplement to The Philadelphia Inquirer
Featuring an article about Parker Stevenson

Hardy Boys T-Shirt
Featuring both Shaun & Parker!

Mickey Mouse Club video
Featuring a Hardy Boys episode from the Disney series.



 
New On The Shelves
Recent additions to the Hardy canon
Digests
Training For Trouble (#161)
The End Of The Trail (#162)
The Spy That Never Lies (#163)
Skin And Bones (#164)
Crime In The Cards (#165)
Clues Brothers
Slip, Slide and Slap Shot (#15)
Fish-Faced Mask Of Mystery (#16)
The Bike Race Ruckus (#17)

3 In 1 Editions with Dust Jacket
3 in 1 Special Edition (Vol. 1)
Tower Treasure, House On The Cliff, Secret Of The Old Mill

Applewood 1st Edition Reproductions
The Mystery Of Cabin Island (#8)
The Great Airport Mystery (#9)
What Happened At Midnight (#10)
While The Clock Ticked (#11)
Casefiles
Line Of Fire (#16)
From Grosset & Dunlap
Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Store Display

Complete List Of New Hardy Boys Books Available From AMAZON.COM
 

THE DISAPPEARING FLOOR
(and why, after 60 years, it still won't disappear)
by Mike Humbert

    The Disappearing Floor (unrevised edition) holds a special infamy among Hardy Boys fans. Ghostwritten by Dr. John Button in 1940, it has all the literary style of a car wreck; and like a car wreck, you want to look away, but somehow just can't.
    While admittedly there are Hardys stories that aren't that great, Floor is in a league of its own for sheer weirdness. The plot is almost nonexistent. Bizarre sci-fi gadgetry is prominently featured, along with a Fenton Hardy who seems to appear at will. This is all the more amazing since Mr. Hardy is seriously injured twice during the book. Of course, the oddest thing of all is that this book was ever published in the first place!
    It would be easy to put all of the blame on the good Dr. Button, but, in his defense, he apparently closely followed the plot outline provided to him by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Unlike Leslie McFarlane (the first and best "Franklin W. Dixon"), when Button was told to write junk, he replied: "Yes Sir! How junky would you like it?"
    So, having said that, let's move on to my highly condensed recap of the story, which reads like a spoof, but isn't; I haven't exaggerated a single plot point, not even the contents of the canvas bag. I have, however, reworked the narration and dialogue to reflect my own take on the story.
    Dark-haired Frank Hardy and his blond brother Joe sat around the campfire, along with their chubby friend Chet.
    "Enough camping, fellows," groaned Chet. "When do we eat?"
    Frank and Joe exchanged amused glances. Chet's tragic eating disorder and the resulting morbid obesity were a reliable source of humor for the two brothers.
    "Say, look at this, fellows," Joe interjected." I just found this old envelope with the name 'Harry Tanwick' written on it. And there's a hundred dollar bill inside!"
    "I wonder who Harry Tanwick could be," pondered Frank.
    "Maybe that's him over there!" shrieked Chet, and the three ran into the darkness after a shadowy figure.
    As the trio charged into the pitch-black wilderness, they suddenly fell headlong through a hole into an equally dark cave. They were now trapped!
    "Well, this is quite a pickle, I must say," observed Joe.
    "Still, we seem remarkably fit for having fallen twenty feet onto solid rock," countered Frank.
    "I'm still hungry," grumbled Chet.
    "Hello, boys," greeted Fenton Hardy, the boys' famous father. "I figured I might run into you here in this desolate cave in the middle of nowhere at four in the morning. By the way, you haven't seen Duke Beeson, the bank robber, have you?"
    "No," replied Frank. "But I just noticed that's there's a canvas bag with $82,000 in coins sitting here at my feet!"
    "Well, bring it along," directed Mr. Hardy. "After all, how much could $82,000 in coins weigh? I want you boys to take his bag cross-country to the Wayne County Bank. I realize you have no transportation, and are completely unfamiliar with the area, not to mention the fact that desperate criminals will be tracking you down, but what could go wrong?"
    (EDITOR'S NOTE: $82,000 in silver coins weighs almost 4,800 pounds. In silver dollars, it would form a stack about 550 feet tall. If those dollars were laid edge to edge, they would form a line about 2 miles long.)
    "Say, Frank," whispered Joe, "isn't this taxi driver driving a bit erratically?"
    "I should say so!" confirmed Frank.
    Thoroughly familiar with what to do in this situation, Frank suddenly lunged forward and threw a chokehold on the vehicle's driver. Despite this prudent measure, the taxi swerved out of control and plunged into the dark, icy water. Frank, Joe and Chet narrowly escaped a watery death, swimming to the surface, while clutching the canvas bag containing $82,000 in coins.
    "You boys did a fine job," congratulated Fenton Hardy, after his sons had once again randomly stumbled upon him. "The whole operation went off without a hitch."
    "Except for our sending a taxi off a bridge and almost drowning," added Joe.
    "Well, yes," agreed the detective.
    "And that crazed mob that attacked us," offered Frank. "And that we had to resort to a railroad handcar for transportation," mentioned Chet. "And then--"
    "In any case," interrupted Mr. Hardy, "I want you to return to Beeson's cave hideout yet again."
    "But we've recovered the money already," Joe pointed out.
    "And Beeson's men have already caught us in there --twice-- and threatened us each time," recounted Frank.
    "Yes, boys, but did you realize that one of Beeson's men is named Louie Butt?"
    Frank and Joe exchanged meaningful looks. Their father had a good point. Someone with a name like that had to be up to no good. No butts about it.
    The next time that the boys randomly bumped into their father, he was moving at high speed, since an escaped tiger was pursuing him. Fortunately, Joe knew well that the surest way to fell a charging tiger was to bounce a sharp rock off its head.
    Quickly abandoning their badly mauled father to the medical authorities, Frank and Joe continued to pursue Duke Beeson. Soon they caught up with him, at which point he effortlessly captured the two brothers.
    "Where we takin' these two punks, Boss?" inquired the gruff henchman.
    "To Eban Adar's house," grunted Beeson, who was now dressed as an Indian prince, for reasons we need not go into.
    Frank and Joe exchanged glances again. Eban Adar was Aunt Gertrude's oddball acquaintance from her school days.
    "Thank goodness," thought Frank. "We'd gone almost ten minutes without a fantastic coincidence."
    "Okay," moaned Frank, rubbing his aching head. "Tell it to me one more time. How did we end up in this rowboat?
    "When we arrived at Adar's house," Joe explained, "ice immediately started forming on us. It quickly enveloped us. Then we blacked out. Then we woke up adrift in this rowboat."
    "Ice," repeated Frank.
    "Yes," Joe mumbled sheepishly." I think we were frozen solid."
    "Frozen solid. And now, shortly after, we're fine. Honestly, Joe! You have to admit it's pretty farfetched," commented Frank.
    "If you won't like the answer, then don't ask the question," snorted Joe.
    "Encased in ice," muttered Frank, shaking his head in bewilderment. "And now we're in a rowboat. Makes perfect sense."
    Joe picked up Adar's telephone receiver and engaged the operator.
    "Hello, operator? Bayport 6132, please. Hello, Aunt Gertrude? It's Joe. No, we're not dead. No, really. We're up at Eban Adar's house. Right. The strange duck from your school. Always hated his guts, yes, I remember. Listen, Auntie, we've been scrapping with some dangerous criminals, and they're running loose around here somewhere, so we were thinking this would be an ideal time for you to come up here for a visit with Mr. Adar and catch up on old times. What do you say? You'd love to? All right then, we'll see you when you get here. Good bye."
    And Joe then replaced the instrument in its cradle.
    "So you see," Joe announced triumphantly, "Beeson's cave has a disappearable floor! Just turn that switch and the floor lowers to reveal additional rooms below where the remaining loot is stashed!"
    "Amazing!" Frank gushed. "And no one knew about it except Beeson, his gang, the team of engineers who designed and manufactured the hydraulics, the contractors who installed them, the electric company who ran out the high voltage power lines to a cave, miles out in the woods..."
    "Yes," Joe chimed in, "it was well-kept secret."
    Just then, a grubby-looking man in a dark ragged jacket approached the boys.
    "Are you Joe Hardy?" he snarled.
    "Why, yes, I am," Joe acknowledged.
    Without warning, the stranger delivered a powerful blow to Joe's midsection. Caught unawares, Joe crumpled to the ground in blinding pain, as Frank watched in stunned disbelief.
    "I'm Harry Tanwick," spat the shabby man. "Now where's my hundred dollars?"
    (Okay, I made up that last bit; Harry Tanwick is still at large after 60 years. Think what the compounded interest on that $100.00 must be by now!)
    There you have the plot, such as it is, of the most surreal Hardys episode ever. Inexplicably, Dr. Button was then allowed to helm the next volume: The Mystery of the Flying Express, infamous in its own way for its blatant errors, such as Laura Hardy being called "Mildred." The only possible explanation I can give for Button's continued employment was that perhaps Leslie McFarlane had his leg caught in a bear trap, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness.
    Be that as it may, The Disappearing Floor continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Hardy Boys fans, in the same way Plan Nine from Outer Space holds a place in the hearts of sci-fi fans. Sometimes if you go far enough into bad, you reach good.

The Disappearing Floor Plot Outline

The plot outline for the original text version of The Disappearing Floor is almost 10 full pages long. Since there isn't room for the entire outline, I am just reproducing the first four chapter outlines exactly from the original obtained from the Stratemeyer archives at the New York Public Library.

CHAPTER I
    Joe and Frank Hardy with their fat chum, Chet Morton, are about to board a train for an outing. They are loaded down with camping equipment - since the boys have decided to scale a certain mountain, have left autos behind. Aunt Gertrude is seeing them off, with a hundred last-minute admonitions. Boys annoyed - she spies a beady-eyed elderly man, in black hat and raincoat - exclaims it is Eben Adar, whom she hadn't seen for years - as a boy in her school he was queer, always doing magic tricks. Guesses he is now a good-for-nothing. Boys notice he carries a package. His actions seem furtive. Aunt Gertrude whispers, maybe he is carrying burglar tools - boys scoff - off on train - arrive at Grey Notch - chums looks for a suitable camp site. Chet as usual very hungry, is annoyed that the first spot viewed isn't selected. Frank spies an ideal place. Joe points out the fact that someone has been there before. Scurry around for wood for fire, etc. Frank suddenly unearths a half charred envelope - a printed name, Harry Tanwick, is on the corner. Joe examining it after Chet has discarded it, finds $100 bill inside. Later boys get to nearest town, inquire for Harry Tanwick - no one knows him. That night while the boys are sleeping a dark figure steals up to their camp site. Franks arouses, sees a man (Weeping Sam) jumps up - fellow mumbles, other boys awake, try to stop fleeing stranger. Boys find Chet missing - he has slipped over mountain side - by shouts boys locate him, at dawn he starts to climb back when a snake frightens him - Hardys help and all stumble into cave. Suddenly Weeping Sam swings a secret door - boys are walled in. (To make 7 1/2 pages.)

CHAPTER II
    Situation bad - no light or exit - boys speculate on man's motive - believe he has mistaken them for someone else - mention father's work as a detective - could it be for revenge? (Here mention previous volumes.) The boys find matches in their pockets, get bearings - suddenly (Fenton) tells them he is hiding there, watching for a band of criminals - he is hoping to catch the much sought-after gangster, Al Lapone, who is somewhere in hiding - Bad man had terrified the countryside, killing a gas station proprietor, etc., in his getaway. The father shows them a secret exit - Frank in examining the cave loosens a rock, discovers big bag of money. Joe finds a slip - "Property of Wayne County Bank" - the boys dig and search industriously with the exception of Chet, who is hungry - Mr. Hardy supplies food - when the boys hear Weeping Sam's voice, Mr. Hardy hides, and the lads rush toward entrance. A stranger with a torch is brought in - they are let go but ordered to leave site. Knowing they are being watched, boys pretend to be awfully glad to get away. That night Mr. Hardy steals to their new camping spot. Asks their aid in transporting bag of money - under cover they get sack out of cave - low whistle resounds. Danger! Someone near!

CHAPTER III
    Just when success seems imminent, Mr. Hardy disappears. Chums are caught lugging sack - however, Chet is so scared he stumbles - valuable bag is flung away in darkness. Hardy boys pretend Chet is badly hurt, and once again the trio are told to be "on their way." Because of their youth the men are not very worried over their hunting. Then later Mr. Hardy appears from hideaway - at dawn seek bag - after some adventure with a hornet's nest boys find bag. Mr. Hardy instructs them to rush money secretly to Wayne County bank - he writes letters of which each makes a copy in case anything should happen to one or the other. Urges boys to return at once to assist in capturing of bandits. The boys leave their camping equipment, go to nearest railroad station. Given ride on hand-car to junction, get train. Four-hour trip to bank - taxi to bank (Driver, who is in league with band, scents their mission) - Swings car in opposite direction. A wild ride. Drawbridge open - car plunges through to water.

CHAPTER IV
    The boys note driver jumps - (Swims to safety.) Battling their way out of the cab is an effort. Fat Chet is a problem - Hardys hang on to bag - climb out, come to surface - small boat rescues them - worried over Chet, who does not appear - fearing bag will be stolen, Frank goes to shore - hires car and heads to bank - Joe finally locates Chet and he gets a car to take them to the bank also - during the ride boys learn more details of the hold-up of the Wayne County bank - the president is in hospital with a severe bullet wound, and is likely to die. Three other employees injured also. Since car Frank was in developed motor trouble, boys pick him up on road, all three ride to institution - crowds collects as soaking wet boys enter. Believe them to be the criminals remorsefully returning loot. Police arrive in commotion, boys are held at bay. They try to explain but it is of no use, and the townspeople are at a fever pitch, overriding the officials. Rioting breaks out among the opinionated groups - to shoot or hang the three blackguards is the cry - Frank struggles to get the note from his pocket to give to the officer. This move calls for a mean crack on the head. Frank topples.


    Well, there are 21 more chapters of this drivel, none of which make any more sense than do these. While author John Button has been rightfully excoriated for producing this piece of trash, it's clear that he should not have to shoulder the entire blame. Edna Squier, daughter of Edward Stratemeyer, created this outline and surely deserves a fair share of the shame. Even she seemed to know that this outline is a real turkey, belatedly trying to tie up the myriad of loose ends at the very end of the outline by lamely mentioning They never found Harry Tanwick and The "frozen humans" turn out to be a cure for certain diseases, a theory Adar had been working on for some time.
    It's interesting to note the villian's name was changed from Al Lapone in the outline to Duke Beeson in the final product (not that it improved the story any!) Furthermore, the original cover art seems to be unfinished along the bottom - very fitting for this bizarre, disjointed story!
    When I first read this story as a boy about 40 years ago, it was one of my favorites. The surreal weirdness and strange inventions fascinated me. I've heard from several other middle-aged fans who held the same opinion back in the halcyon days of their youth. Judged by those youthful standards, the story was successful. Nevertheless, as an adult I have to judge this story harshly and condemn it as one of the very worst in the canon.

  Bayport Mail Bag  

From: earthpete@earthlink.net
Well, the Mystery of Cabin island web site is now up and running! It's located at http://www.cabinisland.com/. There's some bio stuff and a movie synopsis. An early version of the short story: The Secret of the Open Grave is available for download. There should also be a screen saver and some wallpaper available too. Now, the site is not complete. There's a lot of clean-up of images and some design issues to address and some things are still forthcoming. . . like the movie trailer itself. The actual trailer is still quite some time away, but it WILL happen. I've also got several links to add under the story synopsis: a bio of Hanleigh, a picture of the Sea Gull, etc.
I've included a couple of preliminary sketches, one of the design of the cabin itself, the other a sketch of a scene where Chet has fallen through the ice (I don't think that event is in the book, but it was dramatic enough for me to use it). There will also be a macromedia flash version of the web site with some sounds I've purchased and a whole lot more animation within the pages themselves. That version probably won't be complete until after the trailer so it's a long term thing too. Anyway, enough of my blathering, it just feels good to finally have something up. I hope you enjoy it. - Peter Cullum
 

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Script from the 1967 Hardy Boys Pilot Show
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