Ah, childhood. When life, as well as the pleasures, were simpler. And one of those simpler pleasures was reading these books about two brother detectives, their friends, and the adventures they had fighting criminals in their fictional hometown of Bayport and elsewhere in the world.
I have to give credit to the library in my grade school for introducing me to their extensive Hardy Boys collection. I used to eagerly await the end of classes to get the chance to borrow a worn book at least once a week and read it at home.
In an age of innocence, the Hardy Boys series provided a rich fare for the imagination and fantasize about being a detective oneself. Reading their adventures takes one around Bayport, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Florida; and other countries, imagined or otherwise: Mexico, Canada, Morocco, and many more.
In a way, the Hardy Boys series is an imagination of America. In it, you will find two teen-age detectives who can be said to be the author's idea of an ideal American: tall, intelligent, technology-adept, and living in a small, nuclear family.
Yet, you can also find criminals who can be said to be the complete opposite of gangsters like Al Capone or Lucky Luciano. Can you imagine criminals who do not seem to kill? Villains who would just knock or gas their victims or the Hardy boys, and only try to kill them near the end of the story? Unbelievable. But then, the series is made for kids and teen-agers.
In contrast to today's superheroes with superpowers like Spider-Man, the Avengers, or Batman, the Hardy Boys series provided that middle ground where one can be a hero and still keep your feet on the ground.
So despite its flaws, the Hardy Boys series is one great read and deserves to be in every school library's collection. Heck, every grade school boy (or even girl) should read at least two of the books. Who knows? It can set the kid to a love for reading. Now that's a simple pleasure with profound consequences.