The popularity of the Nancy Drew book series and the search by fans for details of the author's -- my -- life never fail to amaze me.
After a picture of my family homestead in Ladora, Iowa, appeared on television recently, I received a phone call from my niece, Kay Morgan. She lives in the very home in which I was born almost 100 years ago.
After The Sleuths, an internet group of Nancy Drew fans, saw the picture, they made arrangements with Mrs. Morgan for about 30 members to tour the two-story, nine-room frame house when they visit Ladora on April 20.
My bedroom was on the second floor fronting the busy main street. Summer months were unbearably hot at that time, so my family added a two-story enclosed sleeping porch which was enjoyed for many years.
For nearly a century, the house had no attached garage but one later was built.
The house was constructed by my parents, and it always has been occupied by a member of the Augustine family, including my sister-in-law, Bernice Augustine, and my niece.
On the same street were two impressive structures; a two-story brick building that served as my father's medical offices and later as apartments. The other building, of marble and stone, provided the town with its only bank, of which my father was a director.
From my youth until the present, the town's population has remained about the same. Ladora never fostered any industry or employment opportunities. Altogether, I think visitors will find the town has changed little in the last 50 years.
Jenifer Fisher, president of The Sleuths, said they hope to go to the University of Iowa the previous day to interview journalism professors.
While at Ladora, they will be greeted by my great-niece Linda Nowotny of Chicago, director of an upcoming Nancy Drew Caribbean cruise. The seven-day trip on the Holland America line will depart from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., June 30 and is believed to be the first of its type.
I have no direct connection with the cruise but it will be attended by the director as well as Mrs. Morgan, her daughter, Lois Kay Kovar of Victor, Iowa, and her daughter, Sheila Kovar, all members of my extended Augustine family.
Two full days of the cruise out of Fort Lauderdale will be spent at sea, during which time several Nancy Drew educational seminars will be conducted under the auspices of Carolyn Dyer, professor of journalism at the University of Iowa, and by Barbara Lounsberry, English professor at the Univeristy of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
The Sleuths have no direct connection with the cruise, but Ms. Nowotny said she hopes to include some of them among the several hundred passengers who have expressed interest in the trip.
Millie Benson is a Blade columnist.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.