A blog dedicated to all of the educational things to be found in the Nancy Drew PC games.


Questions, questions, questions! Oh, how dreary life would be without them!

Subject: The Dust Bowl
Appeared In: Trail of the Twister

Since we’re in the grip of summer, let’s talk dust and sand storms.

  • Jackrabbits and grasshoppers swarmed onto the plains during this time, eating whatever crops they could find.  It got so bad that they had to call in the National Guard to crush the grasshoppers with tractors. Not such a quick ending for the jackrabbits, however. (tw: animal abuse) They were routinely rounded up and beaten to death. This happened so often the practice earned itself a nickname: ‘rabbit drives’.
  • In an act that Tesla would approve of, the barbed wire fences generated incredible amounts of electricity between themselves and the dust.  It wasn’t unheard of for just the act of shaking hands to generate a spark strong enough to shoot each participant off their feet. Also blue fire was involved.
  • Europe had the Black Plague, and the American plains had the Brown Plague. This referred to pneumonia caused by the dust, which killed thousands.
  • Food was so scarce that people ate tumbleweeds. One town even gave the food its own week. (Russian Thistle Week, if you were wondering.)
  • Quite a few people in these dry hellscapes were fans of Bonnie and Clyde, who were active during this time. They felt quite vindicated watching the duo screw over the banks that had screwed over them.
  • You want to know where we get the term hobo? Yup, from the Dust Bowl. The term was used long before then, but during this era over two million people rode the trains to find work and food, firmly branding the name into public consciousness.
  • Students were often kept overnight in school if the dust storms proved too dangerous to traverse.
  • The storms weren’t limited to the plains. Dust traveled all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, over major cities like Boston and New York.
  • Wind speeds could blow up to 100 mph. This is the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane.
  • Two and a half million people fled the Dust Bowl, making it the largest migration in American history.

Further Reading:

  1. America’s Exodus: The 1930s and the Dust Bowl
  2. Dust Bowl Facts
  3. 12 Things You Might Not Know About the Dust Bowl
  4. 10 things You May Not Know About the Dust Bowl

Subject: Carousels
Appeared In: The Haunted Carousel

It would be a poor game indeed to not talk about the thing that’s in the title.  Luckily for us, HER Interactive doesn’t make poor games, so we got a nice chunk of information about carousels throughout the game. This isn’t even everything you can read about it, but the band organ will get its own post some other day.

  • Besides carousel and merry-go-round, they’re also called: roundabouts and galopers (England), manèges de chevaux de bois (France), karussell (Germany), whirligigs, flying horses, and hobby horses (America).
  • During the the “golden age” of carousels (1895-1920), anywhere from 2,000 - 6,000 carousels were built. Roughly 200 have made it to present day.
  • The oldest one in America is located in Massachusetts, called the Flying Horses.
  • To get people on the rides, customers were told merry-go-rounds were doctor recommended as a good way to circulate the blood.
  • The horses on the outside of the ride go faster than the others. This is because they have to cover more distance.
  • The word carousel is derived from carosello. The name is Italian (“little war”). The definition is Middle Eastern, referring to a game played by tossing easily breakable balls between two riders. When the ball hit a player, it broke open and covered them in perfume.
  • If you’ve ever been to Disneyland you know they have an impressive carousel named King Arthur. It’s right in the center of the park, a nod to Walt Disney getting the idea from watching his children ride one in the park. Every horse on the carousel is over a century old, and cast members spend at least six hours polishing the ride per night.

Further Reading

  1. Carousel Facts (two links; one is very short)
  2. Carousel Fun Facts
  3. A little about carousel history and terms
  4. Fun Facts of Disneyland’s King Arthur Carrousel

Subject: The Brothers Grimm
Appeared In: The Captive Curse

Much like other Nancy Drew games featuring the supernatural, CAP plays around with the distortion of legend and the way human psychology can bring many of these monsters alive.  It’s almost impossible to talk folklore, especially in Germany, without at least mentioning the Brothers Grimm. Did you know that…

  • The censorship of their stories wasn’t entirely from public pressure. The brothers were still devout Christians traveling middle class circles, and they shaped the tales to appeal to that demographic even before children became a consideration. Christian references were added, and gender roles were emphasized more than they’d been in the originals. Violence was expanded upon, while sex was removed. Sound familiar?
  • For example, in the earlier French telling of Cinderella, our heroine makes peace with her abusive family and helps them marry into comfortable status. The whole cutting off parts of their feet bit? All Grimm.
  • The Nazis tried to use Grimm fairy tales as propaganda, since the whole idea behind collecting these fables was to preserve German folklore that was originally passed mouth to mouth. They used the grittier first edition, because Nazis.
  • The Göttingen Seven were seven professors at the eponymous university who protested against the annulment of Germany’s liberal constitution in 1837. The Grimm brothers lost their jobs along with the rest, and Jacob Grimm was actually deported.
  • Jacob Grimm was also elected to parliament. He wasn’t very active as a politician, but he did advocate for human rights for all of Germany.
  • The brothers continued living together even after Wilhelm got married. (Imagine that honeymoon…)
  • They had royal connections. In a kind of six degrees of separation deal, the brothers’ maternal aunt was the first lady-in-waiting of the prince of Hesse. She helped the family out financially after Daddy Grimm died. (His name was Philipp, but that’s not as cool to write.)

Further Reading

  1. Brothers Grimm on Wikipedia
  2. The True Story of the Real Brothers Grimm
  3. Grimm Brothers - Biography and Facts
  4. Grimms Fairy Tales - 20 Things You Didn’t Know

Subject: The guillotine
Appeared In: Treasure in the Royal Tower

The guillotine itself doesn’t play a role in the game like Marie Antoinette does, but it has an interesting history nonetheless. I also have a weakness for old torture/execution devices, so let’s talk head chopping!

  • The blade itself weighed 88 pounds. The entire machine came clocked in at 1,278 pounds.
  • As mentioned above, we don’t know who exactly invented the guillotine. This is largely due to the fact that the guillotine was not the first of its kind. The British were using this same method over five hundred years earlier, and several other countries had their own versions. What made the guillotine special was the amount of use it was put to.
  • One of the people who built the first guillotine was actually a harpsichord maker from Germany named Tobias Schmidt.
  • The crowds that gathered for these executions weren’t just because of morbid fascination. The French government required there to be a crowd in order for the criminal to be made an example out of. The crowd would also rate the executioner on his performance. If they decided the execution was anything but instant and painless, the executioner could be fined or even thrown in jail!
  • The guillotine didn’t lose its appeal after the revolution. Public beheading occurred in France until 1939. The machine continued to be used in private for another 38 years.
  • At its most popular, as many as 3,000 people lost their heads to the machine per month. The official death toll is unknown; the estimates range from 17,000 to 40,000. Recent evidence suggests that at least 66% of these people were innocent.

Further Reading:

  1. Off With Their Heads - History of the Guillotine
  2. Its entry in encyclopedia.com
  3. Symbol of the Revolution
  4. Top 10 Facts About the Guillotine

Blog Revival

So. Um. Hello! I’m still here. The blog is still here. What hiatus? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

In all seriousness, I am deeply sorry for dropping off the map without warning. The reasons are ones you’ve all heard and experienced before: school, moving, health, etc. To everyone who stuck around, you deserve medals.

I have no medals, sadly. But I do bring good news! Every ND game is back on my laptop, and I’ve got posts in the queue. There will be a new post every Monday. The first of these posts will go up later in the day.

Thank you, I love you, and don’t take any wooden nickels!

Subject: Curses
Appeared In: Tomb of the Lost Queen

Whether you believe in curses or not, I think we can all agree that they make for some interesting reading. And there’s plenty of them to go around, like…

  • Curse of Tippecanoe: From William Harrison to John F. Kennedy, every president who was elected in a year ending in zero died in office.  Some attribute this phenomena to a curse placed upon Harrison after he pulled some highly shady tactics against Native Americans in 1809.  Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee natives, wasn’t having any of this, and gathered enough tribes together to fight Harrison’s forces for the next few years.  In 1811, Harrison scored a major victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe, which ultimately earned him a similar nickname. Tecumseh’s brother supposedly cursed Harrison after this battle, dooming him and all those elected in years ending in Harrison’s number to die before their terms ended.  And every president did, until Reagan and George W. Bush both survived assassination attempts on their lives and were able to walk away from the White House.
  • Busby’s Stoop Chair: In 1702 Thomas Busby married Elizabeth Auty.  Her father strongly opposed the marriage, and soon after the union took place Busby found his father-in-law waiting for him in his home.  While sitting in Busby’s favorite chair Daniel Auty demanded that his daughter leave Busby.  Busby didn’t take too kindly to that, and later strangled Daniel in his sleep.  Just before he was executed Busby put a curse on his chair, saying that all who sat in it would die just as Daniel Auty.  From that moment until 1972, 63 people sat in Busby’s chair. 63 people died.  The curse only ended when the chair was suspended above ground in the Thirsk Museum.
  • Little Bastard: This was the name of James Dean’s Porsche, the same one he died in.  When George Borris bought the car it immediately fell on one of his mechanics, breaking both of his legs.  Later two men - Troy McHenry and William Eschrid - decided it would be a great idea to race each other in cars with parts of Little Bastard inside.  McHenry died, and Eschrid’s car flipped over.  Bad luck continued to follow the car until it disappeared in 1960. No one knows what happened to it.

Further Reading:

Subject: Investigating Arson
Appeared In: Alibi in Ashes

  • 5% of all home fires are incendiary, usually in single-family homes.
  • The common time frame for these fires is between three p.m. and midnight.
  • 27,100 intentional fires were investigated in 2010.
  • The bedroom is the most common point of origin.
  • The majority of arsonists will stick around to watch the fire they set. Many of them have admitted that getting caught never crossed their mind, due to either apathy or arrogance.
  • Most serial arsonists are white males under the age of 30. Staples of their lives include barely a high school education, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and previous criminal and/or psychological histories.
  • Arson, murder, and rape are tied closely together. If you have a serial offender in one, the chances are very high that that same person has a history of one or both of the other two.
  • Arson dogs are often pulled from other training programs, and go through at least three months of training. Labradors are popular choices.

Further Reading:

Subject: Zodiac Astronomy/Astrology
Appeared In: The Haunting of Castle Malloy

Superstition, history, and the blurred lines between the two are the main themes of the game. Astrology makes another appearance in Curse of Blackmoor Manor, but that is another post entirely. Until then, here are some interesting tidbits about the Zodiac, both the astrological belief and the astronomical importance.

  • Hitler used astrology to plan his attacks. He was told in 1923 that his birth date predicted great power, and later credited an astrological prediction with thwarting an assassination attempt in 1939. When the Allies found out, they spread bogus horoscopes saying that Taurus, Hitler’s sign, was incredibly unlucky. (Along with exploiting Hitler’s beliefs to predict his battle plans, of course.)
  • Astronomers mainly use the Zodiac as a convenient chart of the locations and paths of planets, moons, suns, etc.
  • There are two schools of astrology: Western and Vedic. Western astrology is the type you find in grocery store horoscopes. Vedic, which is Hindu in origin, uses sidereal Zodiac signs. It’s much more modern than the mystic Western charts, which have not been updated in over 2,000 years. The difference in position between the two Zodiacs is 23 degrees - that’s at least an entire star sign.
  • A Zodiacal cloud are groups of dust floating between the planets. Zodiacal light is sunlight scattered by these dust particles. It can be seen just before dawn or twilight, but it’s incredibly faint so anything less than a clear sky will obscure it.
  • The thirteenth sign, Ophiuchus, is completely astronomical.  In fact, there is absolutely no connection between the boarders of the astrological Zodiac and the astronomical Zodiac. Astronomy’s only concern in this field is making things efficient for scientists.
  • The name Zodiac is taken from the Greek zōion, which means ‘animal’.

Further Reading:

I am 100% IN LOVE with your theme. I tried finding it when I clicked on the "designed by" link but I couldn't :( Do you have a direct link to it? Sincerely, bra-crumbs-deactivated20131219

Fear not, friend! The theme is right here. The link in the sidebar seems to direct you to the designer’s personal Tumblr. To see their other designs, go here.

Subject: Nikola Tesla
Appeared In: The Deadly Device

Tesla, Tesla, Tesla. Like Marie Antoinette and Harry Houdini, Tesla dominates his game, his life and work crucial to discovering who is behind Niko’s death. Hearing Frank and Joe fanboy over him was adorable. The book here provides a good overview, but since you can never get enough Tesla, here’s a few more fun tidbits.

  • He spoke eight languages: Latin, Italian, French, Czech, German, English, Serbo-Croatian, and Hungarian.
  • He was born during a lightning storm.
  • July 10th is Nikola Tesla Day.
  • His mother was an inventor, too, creating household appliances for fun whenever she had the time. His father was a priest.
  • There is a sign labeled Nikola Tesla Corner near Tesla’s old laboratory. If you’re in New York, head for the 40th Street-6th Avenue intersection.
  • He holds the record for the largest man-made lightning bolt at 130 feet. It was so powerful that it could be seen and heard over 20 miles away, and caused his lab to glow blue.
  • He claimed to only sleep two or three hours a day.
  • He didn’t have to die poor; Tesla’s royalties on electricity alone would have made him world’s the first billionaire. Instead he sold his royalties for only 1.8% of what they were worth in order to keep his inventions accessible to the public.

Further Reading: