They're the books that taught me the words "jalopy" and "dungarees." They're the stories that crafted mysterious events and possible ghosts in a more plausible, cerebral way than Scooby-Doo did and absolutely held me and my young imagination enthralled page after page after page. They're the writings that showed me the importance of maintaining common themes like "code word falcon" to provide continuity across a globe-trotting world of adventures and showed me the negligible importance of minor characters named Chet when the narrative needed a random friend to appear out of nowhere to stand lookout or drive the ... yes ... jalopy. They're literally the books that I saved my paper-route money to buy one by one and that I read in my bed by flashlight when my parents thought I was asleep.
And now they're relics of an era of stories where nobody had cell phones and the only brown people were the villains and everything was heteronormative and clad in dungarees and assured to have a happy ending unless you were a brown villain.
And until last weekend I still had all my Hardy Boys books taking up an entire row of relentless horizontalness in my bedroom. All 58 of them, minus books 11, 20 and 36, which must have been stolen by ghosts. Though the Hardy Boys are no doubt already on the case.
But I just gave them all away to fuel a new young imagination that's too old for Scooby-Doo but not too young to hide in the dark with a flashlight following the adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy as they vanquish villains and solve ghostly mysteries and save their dad from peril every time he sends the code word "falcon."