Childhood "Secret Club" Book
December 19, 2003 5:14 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone remember the name of a book from my childhood?

Here's what I can remember: it was a Scholastic book, sold back in the 1960s. The plot involved kids who got together over a summer vacation and discovered records from a secret club that involved elaborate initiation rituals, strange whistle-calls, and props. The back of the book had instructions for making the props which included a spear made from a broomstick, a shield made from a peach basket (!?) lid, a whistle made from paper, and other stuff.

One of the initiation rites had to do with fighting a "monster" which turned out to be a scary bush, who's silhouette looked like a beast. At the end they figured out that it was their parents who created the club when they were kids.

The name was something like "The Secret Club," but I've never been able to track it down using search engines. Maybe I just imagined it...
posted by jpburns to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Man, that's a stumper. My best guess is The Secrets of the Three Investigators, which looks to have been published by Scholastic.
posted by ed at 5:32 AM on December 19, 2003

jpburns, I remember that book, and the title certainly sounds right.

It concerned a group of kids who found a note, which became
the catalyst for the games and activities which followed,
including 19-20-5-7-1-14-15-7-18-16-8-25 [steganography].

If I find a copy online, I'll post a link here.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:33 AM on December 19, 2003

I think that Ed's suggestion refers to the "Alfred Hitchcock & The Three Investigators" series of books -- akin to Hardy Boys series, but a bit more modern, and with 3 boys instead of two. The 3 Invesigators didn't do anything like what jpburns is looking for, though...
"The basic premise is that three boys, Jupiter Jones (the smart one), and his buddies, Bob and Pete, set up a detective agency, their secret headquarters is in a housetrailer buried in a junkyard belonging to Jupiter's uncle.
posted by davidmsc at 5:38 AM on December 19, 2003

jpburns - I read that book, so you're not imagining it. I've got no clue what the title was, though.
posted by tdismukes at 5:41 AM on December 19, 2003

That was the one where they found the clubhouse in the rocks and it turned out to have been their fathers' years ago (who also passed down the rituals you described)? I searched for that book for years, bothering children's librarians everywhere, till I finally found one and bought a copy, but the one I found wasn't exactly what I had recalled (yet had components of it), so I'm still a bit confused about the whole thing. I believe there were sequels to it, too.
posted by rushmc at 8:00 AM on December 19, 2003

Another place to go, if you don't mind spending two dollars on tracking it down, is this fine website. I remember one book for young kids that I read that included the steganography part, but not the other parts. It took place mostly at a beach with three boys who had previously been pretty bored with Summer. I'm working at the library today, I'll see if I can find it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on December 19, 2003

Oh god, I KNOW this book. For some reason the word "hot dog" sticks in my mind.
posted by Hackworth at 9:30 AM on December 19, 2003

So I went to jessamyn's suggested link, and poked around the 'S' section of the solved Mysteries and found this little jem:
Secret Hide-Out
The book or series was about a group of ~3 boys who camp out together and fight a monster (really a bush) using spears made from broom sticks & lion masks made from grocery bags (paper-not plastic).  The father and grandfather of one of the boys had a secret club with a hidden 3-ring binder filled with club rules and instructions on how to make the spears, masks, ect.  Seemed to be aimed at boys 8-11-ish.  It had a fairly even mix of pictures and text.  It might have been a Scholastic publication.

This is definitely THE SECRET HIDE-OUT by John Peterson, 1965, 1998. The author's estate has put the whole book, including illustrations, online here.  Don't let the cover and the illustrations throw you though - they are from the 1998 reprint. The Scholastic copy was more orange or yellow,  and I remember different illustrations (I'll have to check my childhood copy). Also, you might be interested to know that there was a sequel, ENEMIES OF THE SECRET HIDE-OUT. ~from a librarian
BTW, the full name is John Lawrence Peterson and he is also the author of the well-known Littles series!
BTW, the site referenced in the answer no longer exists. Now I'm off to the library myself, and will see if they have a copy, as I think I read it as a child, too.
posted by jazon at 10:29 AM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]

I thought you might be talking about "The Secret Three", by Mildred Myrick, but I've got my copy of that sitting right here, and it's not the one with the fake monster - I think it is the one that Smart Dalek and jessamyn are talking about, with the codes and whatnot. I must have that other book in the big stack. I'll keep looking.
posted by majcher at 10:29 AM on December 19, 2003

p.s. I am working at home today, and thanks to your little question got absolutely no work related stuff done. Curse you AskME!
posted by jazon at 10:31 AM on December 19, 2003

The Secret Hide-Out! Yes, that's it... I can't find my copy, but there is one available on eBay right now.
posted by majcher at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2003

There's quite a few copies of the book and its sequel on Alibris...
posted by kittyb at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2003

Response by poster: Thanks so much to everyone, particularly jazon who hit the proverbial nail on the head. Now I just have to track it down.

(I'll try to post more compactly in the future, BTW, with a [more inside] to be polite...). Man, I'm loving Ask MiFi...
posted by jpburns at 3:14 PM on December 19, 2003

I remember this book too! I loved it! Now I will be trying to find a copy as well. Thank you for posting this question -- I had completely forgotten about the book until now.

(Did you also read the Alvin Fernald books, like Alvin and the Secret Code? At least, I think that was the title. I was reading those at about the same age that I read The Secret Hide-Out. I just loved that stuff.)
posted by litlnemo at 5:19 PM on December 19, 2003

That's it! Although I'm almost certain there were TWO sequels.
posted by rushmc at 6:03 PM on December 19, 2003

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