Preview: The Secret of the Orphanage
As war clouds gather, Nancy Drew and platonic gal pal Ned Nickerson are defiant at Schenley Park, Pittsburgh PA. Our story appears here in the public domain for the first time. Internal evidence dates events to 1940 and 1941.

three short (down with reading! up with adventure!) chapters
1. Orphanage
2. River That Sings
3. Transcendent Vision

1. Orphanage

When we saw her in The Haunted Bridge (1937), Nancy Drew, youthful sleuth extraordinaire, was competing in an amateur golf tournament and—spoiler alert!—breaking up a gang of jewel thieves. Now, in The Secret of the Orphanage, she must keep a secret rather than solve a mystery.

In a break with tradition, Carson Drew, widower and attorney in private practice, has invited his priceless daughter to join him on a business trip to Smoky City. While Papa Drew devotes himself to his clients, superb athlete Nancy will play two rounds of golf and meet head-on any opportunity to emulate Dad. A vigorous morning with platonic gal pal Ned Nickerson at the course in Schenley Park in threatening conditions has not slowed her one iota.

Round two is at Oakmont Country Club near the high iron-and-manganese content, low pH-level Allegheny River. Not overawed by the famous Oakmont clubhouse (Fownes and Stotz, 1903), Nancy gets right to eavesdropping on red-faced gentlemen who have very strong words (among friends) about the opportunity costs of war. Before long, our unescorted heroine must justify her presence to guardians of club protocol. An admiring appraisal of her blue roadster tips the interrogation in her favor. She is permitted to swing away at Oakmont’s hazards, which she does with relish (and we don’t mean the Heinz variety manufactured a short distance upriver). Highlights? What must have been atheist Nancy’s guilty—no, secret—pleasure at holes 3 and 4 after breezing past the Church Pews bunker! Yet trouble awaits in the parking lot. The blue roadster is gone, and a memory resurfaces of an incident that hardly registered during an early hole (when Nan needs to focus, she focuses!): Did or didn’t she catch a glimpse across Hulton Road of Dad’s arrest at gunpoint?

The spot where her father was busted turns out to be Saint Anthony’s Orphanage. Outside, Nancy is halted by a police officer.

“Chawt, little lady. It’s nunya business.”

He doesn’t want to hear about the stolen blue roadster either. As she walks away wracked with worry, two priests, faces bruised, signal to her from behind a sumac tree.

“Come with us to Millvale,” whispers one. “Your father will meet us at midnight.”

After blessing her, the clergy and Nancy tiptoe to the high iron-and-manganese content, low pH-level Allegheny River.


clue no. 1

clue no. 2
Maxo Vanko’s murals (1937 and 1941), St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church (architect: Frederick C. Sauer, 1900), Millvale PA

Schenley Park: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections, Pittsburgh PA
Saint Anthony’s Orphanage: Oakmont Carnegie Library Archives, Oakmont PA