From Book Series 'Discovered'
Judy Bolton Fans Gather
The "Phantom Friends" were in the county recently on their annual autumn 'visit to the home of their favorite author Margaret Sutton and her fictional character Judy Bolton.
Margaret Sutton, one of Potter County Is more famous natives, is the author of a series of juvenile mysteries starring Judy Bolton as a "girl detective." What makes them unique is their setting: in and around Potter County.
Which is what draws the Phantom Friends here- the chance to visit the real places which Sutton fictionalized in her books.
The Bolton series includes 32 [sic] volumes published over 35 years, beginning in 1932.
MargaretSutton Hunting, now 89, is retired but the Phantom Friends insure she is not forgotten. The fan club numbers 200 members throughout the U.S. and has its own newsletter. That and periodic trips to her native Potter County provide a way of sharing their enthusiasm for Sutton's charming creation, the redheaded and irrepressible Judy. Over a dozen members were able to make the trip to Potter County for the two-day "mini-convention" on October 3-4, which included not only a tour of "Bolton Country" but also dinner at the Hotel Crittenden hosted by Adelphia Cable Communications Corp. and a visit to the Austin School to see Lhe Bolton/Sutton mural created by the students during a special art/history project last spring.
The fan club also toured the Potter County Historical Society; and stopped by the Leader-Enterprise offices and the county courthouse.
A highlight of Lhis year's tour was the discovery of a new site: a beaver pond in Odin which Sutton used in creating the locale of The Puzzle in the Pond.
Discovering new sites that can be identified as the source for places in the Bolton books is one of the reasons the Friends keep returning. That and visiting,all their old favorites.
The first stop this trip was the house in Odin built by Victor Beebe and now owned by Mr. and Mrs. C. Kerns. Beebe was the father of Margaret Sutton (born Rachel Beebe in that very house).
The Odin house figures prominently in Sutton's first Judy Bolton book, The Vanishing Shadow, written in 1932. In the book, the house is located in "Dry Brook Hollow."
In her novels, Sutton used not only local places, but also local events. The Vanishing Shadow is based in part on the failure of the Austin Dam in 1911.
Sutton uses her birthplace in a later book, also making it the home of Judy Bolton after she marries.
Yes, in the course of the 32 [sic] books in the series, Bolton grows up and marries her childhood chum Peter Dobbs. Judy's realistic growth and change over time is one of the things that makes Sutton's series so unique in the juvenile mystery genre and puts her work head and shoulders above the many similar series written in the 1930s and 1940s.
Another popular site the Friends visited was the Judge Robert Lewis Estate on Mill Street in Coudersport where Sutton lived. In books like The Haunted Attic, it became the "Farringdon-Pett Mansion."
Sutton wrote the last Judy Bolton book in 1967, title The Secret of the Sand Castle. However, Judy Bolton lives on in the hearts of the Phantom Friends, especially when they return to "Bolton Country."
To find out more about Phantom Friends, write Lorraine Rogers, 61 Prospect St., Auburn N.Y., 13021