Spinoza and Cherry Ames

Like so many people who harbor secret sins and obsessions, I thought I was alone. And then one day, in the midst of a conversation, no doubt about high-level theological issues (or maybe where to go for lunch), with my friend and rabbinic colleague, Leah, I blurted it out: “did you ever read Cherry Ames when you were young?” She looked startled for a moment, and then responded, “I LOVED Cherry Ames!” Turns out, she and I are not the only ones who did (and do).

When I was a child, Cherry Ames was a favorite. Although I also read the Bobbsey Twins and Anne of Green Gables series, Cherry was the standout. Was it her black curly hair (like mine?) Was it her feisty independence? Was it her ability to solve every problem, not only of the medical variety, but mysteries of every kind? Was it her cute bedroom furniture in her home town of Hilton (Illinois)? Although I never expressed an interest in being a nurse, the Cherry Ames series (23 volumes in all), which portrayed a young woman who seemed to have a new doctor “suitor” in every book, yet always moved on to a new job leaving the would-be boyfriend behind, surely must have had some career-inspiring influence on me.

Somehow, unlike my Pee Wee Reese doll, several of my Cherry Ames books survived through adulthood. And I managed to find the remaining ones in second-hand bookstores and eventually on the Internet.

10 comments on “Spinoza and Cherry Ames

  1. Susan Pober on

    I LOVED Cherry Ames. Now I’m going to have to find them (we don’t have them in the library where I work!) and re-read them. Thanks for the blog & for stirring up old, but good, memories.

  2. Marlene Cimons on

    Well, who knew?
    Mindy, I shunned Cherry Ames because, even as a child, it bothered me that she had to have a traditional woman’s job and wasn’t a doctor. I was a Nancy Drew girl all the way! I loved how she solved every case, outsmarting her boyfriend and her father every time. I also read every Hardy Boys mystery, because that’s what my older brothers were reading and the books were in the house. But that’s another story…

  3. Diane Davis on

    Mindy, thanks for sharing your memories about this childhood favorite. I hadn’t thought of the books in YEARS. I, too, will search for some and reread them. Hope I have the same warm feelings all these years later. When I recently watched some of the original Nancy Drew movies on tv, I was sooooo disappointed. I was sorry the old movies clouded my wonderful memories of an old book friend!

  4. Nancy Shiffrin on

    I loved Honey something or other, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames and a host of other
    girls’ mystery stories. I also loved Dostoevsky. It’s amazing these days to see the plethora of women’s detective, mystery, problem solving novels — my favorites are still the early Amanda Cross/Carolyn Heilbrun. A University professor solving literary and feminist problems. And enjoying a cocktail and a great husband.

  5. Nancy Shiffrin on

    I loved Cherry Ames and a host of other girl mystery stories: Nancy Drew, Honey something or other. I also loved Dostoevsky and the New Yorker. I’ve become a fan of contemporary feminist mystery, problem solving and private eye novels; most notably
    Carolyn Heilbrun/Amanda Cross.

  6. Linda Byard on

    I too was a great fan of Cherry Ames. When I was growing up, our public library would not stock these book series, so we passed Cherry Ames around along with Nancy Drew, Happy Hollisters, Trixie Belden, Bobbsey Twins, and others whose names escape me at the moment. I especially liked how Cherry Ames was a different kind of nurse in every book. I found this article very interesting. I wonder if anybody out there remembers the “Maida” books, a series about a rich little girl whose father seemed bent on creating a utopian atmosphere for Maida to grow up in – complete with poor children from the community.

  7. Jill Moss Greenberg on

    Thanks so much for this article, Mindy. I read the entire Cherry Ames series, one after the other, but hadn’t thought of those books for years. How fascinating that Helen Wells was actually Weinstock – and Jewish. I am now the director of a Women’s History Center and Museum in Maryland. Since people mentioned other series they liked, the other one that I read voraciously was the Black Stallion series. I was ready for adventure. I wonder if our mutual experiences in our youth led to our future paths. I was ready for adventure. Would love to get together sometime in DC or Maryland and share!

  8. wanda on

    I enjoyed the Cherry Ames series so much. Cherry was an excellent role model for me, and I aspired to achieve as a young child. I could not wait until the next book was published. Do you know the best place to buy the series? Thanks for any assistance you might can provide.

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