Wednesday, September 26, 2018


My hardback original run copy
Harriet the Spy is my favorite book, hands down. The Harry Potter series is second but Harriet grabbed me as a little girl and held on tight. I wore out the first paperback I had of Harriet. I have other paperback copies plus an original run hardback book and an electronic copy. I read it about once a year. 
Harriet's spy outfit

Harriet is eleven years old and wants to be a writer. So she has decided that she needs to see everything and write everything down. Every afternoon she goes on her spy route. She looks in on her neighbors and takes notes. Harriet always has a notebook with her. She also makes notes on her friends. Basically, Harriet writes down whatever she thinks. 

Harriet also has a nanny with an odd name - Ole Golly. Ole Golly can be harsh and a bit sever but she loves Harriet and Harriet loves her. Ole Golly is Harriet’s voice of reason as her parents are very busy and hands off. 

Harriet’s world crashes down when Ole Golly is fired unexpectedly after a misunderstanding. Ole Golly, of course, leaves with dignity assuring Harriet that everything will be ok. Not long after, Harriet’s friends read her notebook. 

This horrified me as a little girl and an adult. Basically everyone knows Harriet’s every thought. The good and the bad. Life is downhill from there for our friend Harriet. During this time, Harriet receives a letter from Ole Golly. The letter is so good that I’ve included it here. 

Harriet stuck in a dumb waiter
Dear Harriet,

I have been thinking about you and I have decided that if you are ever going to be a writer it is time you got cracking. You are eleven years old and haven’t written a thing but notes. Make a story out of some of those notes and send it to me.

 “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keats. And don’t you ever forget it.

Now in case you ever run into the following problem, I want to tell you about it.  Naturally, you put down the truth in your notebooks. What would be the point if you didn’t? And naturally those notebooks should not be read by anyone else, but if they are, then, Harriet, you are going to have to do two things, and you don’t like either one of them:

1) You have to apologize.
2) You have to lie.

Otherwise you are going to lose a friend. Little lies that make people feel better are not bad, like thanking someone for a meal they made even if you hated it, or telling a sick person they look better when they don’t, or someone with a hideous new hat that it’s lovely. Remember that writing is to put love in the world, not to use against your friends. But to yourself you must always tell the truth.

Another thing. If you’re missing me I want you to know I’m not missing you. Gone is gone. I never miss anything or anyone because it all becomes a lovely memory. I guard my memories and love them, but I don’t get in them and lie down. You can even make stories from yours, but remember, they don’t come back. Just think how awful it would be if they did. You don’t need me now. You’re eleven years old which is old enough to get busy at growing up to be the person you want   to be.  No more nonsense.

Ole Golly Waldenstein

I’ve always loved the part about writing putting love into the world. I hope my writing puts love into your world. 

As an adult, the last paragraph haunts me. I treasure my memories of my Daddy. I love to talk about him and hear other people’s stories of him. Sometimes I do want to lay down in my memories. Dream of 'what ifs'.  Think about it would be like for him to be here with us.  But, I can't go back.  I wouldn't want him back. I wouldn't want him to have to be sick all over again.  And I for sure couldn't go through losing him again.  

That's why I love Harriet.  She helped me a little girl.  I wanted to be a writer but I learned to keep somethings to myself. I learned to be careful not to hurt people with my words - spoken or written.  As an adult, Harriet teaches me how to let go and how to recover.  I love Harriet! 

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