Monthly Archives: September 2016

Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators Series by Robert Arthur

 

Alfred-Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

 

As a kid, I was a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock. It started with his T.V. series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. As I recall, it was on during a school night. To stay up and watch my favourite programme with a glass of lemonade in one hand and a bourbon cream in the other was a big deal. The series covered nearly all genres such as crime, horror, drama, thrillers and my favourite mysteries. Then, one rainy day I discovered my brother’s stash of books underneath his bed.  I eyeballed Hitch’s name on the covers of this series and I was hooked. To my amazement, he even made a guest star appearance in the books as a mentor to the three investigators.

The three detectives consisted of Jupiter Jones (what a fantastic name!), Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews. First detective Jupiter led the gang, second detective Pete excelled at sports and Bob loved records and research. Of course, I had a secret crush on Pete. The books were set in Rocky Beach in sunny California in the sixties. Jupiter or ‘Jupe’ lived with his Aunt Mathilda and Uncle Titus (another cool name!). They owned a junk yard where the three investigators set up their secret headquarters in an old mobile home, which had four hidden entrances. The mobile home even had a phone, which they paid for with money they earned working in the junk yard and from fees they collected for solving cases.  Even cooler, the boys enjoyed access to a chauffeur driven gold-plated Rolls-Royce for thirty days. Jupiter won the use of the car as a prize in a contest sponsored by the Rent-‘n-Ride Auto Rental Company. Worthington, the chauffeur always took a huge interest in the boy’s cases.  Looking back, I see now that the troop’s business card summed up the boys investigating business the best with their motto “We Investigate Anything” printed in the centre and underneath three black question marks stood out. The question marks symbolized the unknown and each question mark represented each investigator. The mysteries the boys investigated involved all manner of supernatural events from haunted houses to screaming clocks.

The books are pre-internet so the three investigators do a lot of digging around in libraries and books plus having a phone (attached to a line) was a big deal in those days. Oh, how simple life used to be! In this technological age, I don’t know how these books would go down with my kids but I am going to find out. What I loved most about these stories was that Mister Hitchcock took the boys seriously and as a kid that’s all I dreamed about!

 

Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince & Other Tales

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

My kids always ask me what my favourite books were when I was a child.  It’s so long ago it was really hard to remember. So, I stopped and began to think. One by one they came back to me. Of course some books have been with me all of my life while others returned like old reacquainted friends bringing a smile to my face. I made a long list. I began to think what did I like the most about these books and what made them stand out? Did they make me laugh or cry? Did they make me think about things differently or ultimately change me as a person? And finally, would my kids like them too?

My first favourite childhood book was The Happy Prince & Other Tales by Oscar Wilde.

There are five short stories in this book entitled The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend and The Remarkable Rocket.  Each one of them is incredible in their own way.  The Selfish Giant has a special place in my heart but The Happy Prince is my all-time favourite short story. The Happy Prince is a statue made from gold and precious stones. From where the Happy Prince stands he sees nothing but misery in the city. A swallow comes to visit him. The swallow agrees to strip him of his gold and jewels in order to give them to the people in need.  It’s so beautifully written and so sad. Over the years, I have read this story many times to my kids and it still makes one of us cry – usually me! Then,  I remembered  the cartoon of The Happy Prince probably watched on some rainy Saturday afternoon.  As I recall, Christopher Plummer voiced the Happy Prince.  I am going to root it out and show it to my kids the next rainy day that comes which I’m sure we won’t have to wait long for. We live in Ireland after all.

Oscar Wilde is still one of my favourite authors and is there not one of us that have not marvelled at his wit. So I will leave you with my favourite Oscar Wilde quote from Lady Windermere’s Fan,

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”