Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Happy Hollister Book Club

One of the things that I love about being a writer and a reader is how scenes from a book will just stick with you.

The scene I'm writing about today has stayed in my imagination for over 50 years. I'm sure I’ve talked about this before - either here or on Seekerville - about how I used to get The Happy Hollister books in the mail every month when I was a child.

I seriously wanted to be part of their family, because they always did such cool things and had such fun together.

For the uninitiated, The Happy Hollisters are a family of five children - Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly and Sue - who lived with their mother and father in a rambling house on a lake in the fictional town of Shoreham. (I don’t think I ever really knew where Shoreham was, but it still exists in my imagination as sort of a utopia - except for the resident bully, Joey Brill.)

Mr. Hollister owned The Trading Post and Mrs. Hollister stayed home to take care of the children, their donkey Domingo and their dog and cat, but they weren't often home they were always off on fun trips solving interesting mysteries. As an adult I look back at the idea that these children, the oldest of whom was 12, were off solving mysteries that the adults couldn’t solve as kind of humorous, but as a child I loved it and I looked forward to getting the two books in the mail each month. That was far and away the happiest day of the month.

From the website:  Over one million children joined The Happy Hollisters Book Club between 1962 and 1971—were you one of them? Joining was easy: you (or your parents) simply sent a dime (yes, one thin dime!) to become a member. In exchange, you received a copy of The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery, sold in bookstores for a whopping $1.95. The initial volume was yours to keep, even if you canceled your membership immediately. If you didn’t cancel, you continued to experience the joy of reading The Happy Hollisters, receiving one new volume each month for the low cost of $1.00 (plus shipping and handling)—what a swell deal that was!

I don't remember this part, but I sure do remember getting the books every month!

I also found this on their website:

"Andrew Svenson’s goal in writing the youth mystery novels series was to encourage a love of reading in children; each book was planned so that the first page would draw the reader in with a dangerous or mysterious situation, and each chapter would end with a cliffhanger or exciting twist that encouraged the child to turn the page and keep reading."

As an author, I love the connection so many *cough 50 cough* years later. 

So why am I blogging about The Happy Hollisters, you may be asking.

Well, I've been craving cheese and potatoes lately, and that brought to mind a scene from one of the books. I'm pretty sure it was from The Happy Hollisters and the Swiss Echo Mystery. In the scene, the Hollister children are visiting in a mountain village and one of the locals is a cheese maker. He shows them how they can take hot potatoes and hold them against the spinning wheel of cheese to make a tasty treat.

Honestly, on a night when I don’t kick feel like cooking, a big wheel of cheddar cheese and hot potatoes sounds like a fabulous combination. Alas, I had to settle for cheesy fries to satisfy the craving, but the memory of reading that scene made them taste spectacular!

So my question for you today is are there any scenes from books that particularly stand out for you because of the food?

And what is your best recipe involving cheese and potatoes?


  1. Oh, this is such a good memory, Cate... I didn't have these, but a neighbor did and what fun! And now I want cheesy potatoes!

    Like for real!!!!!

    You know, I've roasted potato chunks before, seasoned with olive oil and seasonings, then sprinkled them liberally with shredded sharp cheddar and bacon (because why wouldn't you add bacon???) and it's marvelous.

    Which means I might have them tonight! :)

    1. Too bad I didn't see your reply earlier. I could have come up for dinner!

      I was thinking of the salmon pot pie I make where my favorite part is the cheesy potatoes in the pie crust. Who needs the salmon?

  2. Mary Cate, I don't remember this club! But what fun. I think maybe my family was more into the Scholastic book fairs. That's where we bought tons of books. I was also into Nancy Drew books.

    I love that you remembered that scene!! One sign of a great book is that a scene can stick with you years later.

    1. My parents weren't really into buying books, Missy. Which I guess is why it surprised me that they bought this. One of my more shameful childhood memories is befriending a girl because she had a full set of Nancy Drew books.

  3. Well, I commented this morning, but then Blogger ate my comment AND the one I posted over at Seekerville, so I threw my hands up in frustration.

    I've never heard of The Happy Hollisters. Truth be known, I didn't read much as a kid. I do recall The Boxcar Children, though. Loved that book so much, I got my kids hooked on the series. The idea of those kids living in a boxcar was so cool. And loved when they gathered things people had thrown out to make their own little home. Scrubbing silverware with sand to remove the rust. I was smitten.

    1. My daughters loved The Boxcar Children, Mindy. I think we had the entire series. Such a clever idea.
      Sorry about hungry blogger. It's done that to me a few times in the past few weeks. I know I commented, and then I come back and nothing is there.

  4. Your memory of the cheesy potatoes is absolutely correct--it's from The Happy Hollisters and the Swiss Echo Mystery. Thanks for remembering us in your blog! The books are currently being reissued in paperback by the author's family (that's us), and the Happy Hollisters Book Club has been restarted. And BTW, now we are craving cheesy potatoes too! Thanks, and have a swell day!

    1. The Happy Hollisters Book Club has been restarted?!? How sweet is that?

    2. How wonderful! Thank you so much for stopping by! I'll have to keep and eye out for the book club for future grandkids! :)

    3. Just saw this now. Thanks so much - both for stopping by and for the joy those books brought me as a child and now in memories.

  5. One of my dear husband's favorite childhood memories is the Happy Hollister Book Club. Of course, being the pragmatic child he was, he promptly removed all the dust jackets and threw them away. (I hate that part of his story!)

    But we still have his original copies - close to twenty of them.

    I was a lover of the Bobbsey Twins stories, but quickly switched to the Box Car Children when I discovered those. Alas, I only had access to one Happy Hollisters book when I was a child. My cousin had a copy of the Cuckoo Clock Mystery - probably received for one thin dime. :-)

    Thanks for the memories, Cate. And cheesy potatoes is going on the menu for next week!

    1. Sadly, some of mine are missing dust jackets too, but they all reside on my daughter's bookshelf. She was a huge fan of The Boxcar Children and I loved The Bobbsey Twins - particularly Flossie and Freddie.