part 1

April 14, 1973


The seven Bob-Whites of the Glen were gathered at Diana Lynch’s house to celebrate Jim Frayne’s and Brian Belden’s Spring Break, which took place the week before Sleepyside Junior-Senior High School’s Spring Break.  Although many of their college classmates traveled south to Florida for a few days of sun and surf, Brian and Jim preferred to visit their families and friends at home.

Diana and Jim had gone to the Lynches’ kitchen to bring out platters of sandwiches, chips, dip, and soft drinks.  A lively game of gin rummy was in progress, with Trixie, Honey, Mart and Dan playing, when the talk turned to the hula recital in which the three girls would be performing.  They had been fortunate enough to get into a class taught by a college student who had danced the hula for many years in her home state of Hawai’i.

“So, what kind of costumes are you wearing for the dance?” Brian asked.  He was flipping through Diana’s record collection, in hopes of finding the latest album from Paul McCartney and Wings.

Honey had made the girls’ mu'u mu'u costumes herself, but Brian and Jim had not seen them.  In fact, Honey had suggested that they should surprise the boys.  The graceful, flowing dresses were currently hanging in the closet of Honey’s former governess, now estate manager for her family, Miss Margery Trask.

“Brian, you know perfectly well that we’re not going to tell you!  You’ll have to wait and see.”  Trixie lay down all seven cards in her hand with a flourish.  “Set of four and run of three.  I win this hand!”  She chortled with glee.

Her brother Mart, eleven months older, was holding a fan of nearly twenty cards, which he slapped onto the table in frustration.  The cards had not favored him so far that night.  While Trixie gathered the cards and prepared to reshuffle them, he began to tease her.  “Well, I, for one, intend to sit far in the back of the audience.  I don’t want to be anywhere close when Trixie tumbles off the stage this time.”

“Mart, Trixie is a very good dancer, and nothing like that will happen.”  Tactful Honey placed her hand on Trixie’s arm.

Trixie smacked the stack of cards down and glared at her brother, who was now standing and doing a parody of a hula dance.

“Then maybe you’d better not come at all,” she snapped.

“Cut it out, Mart,” Brian admonished his brother.

“Dude, I think they’ll be great!  I can’t wait to see them.  Are you wearing grass skirts, Honey?”  Dan Mangan’s dark eyes sparkled.

Diana, followed by Jim, entered the terrace just in time to see Trixie’s red face and flashing blue eyes, as well as Mart’s dance.  Her lips set in a firm line, but her voice was honey-sweet as she said, “Mart, I wish you’d come out to Mummy’s rose garden with me for a minute.  She can raise any kind of houseplant, but these roses are giving her fits, and she’s afraid they’ve got some kind of disease.”  She set down a platter of sandwiches and a large bowl of chips, and placed a hand on his arm.  “You know so much about roses from helping your mom, I’m sure you’ll know what’s wrong.  Let’s take a break from cards for a while and eat.  Maybe you guys can play for us on the guitars after that.”

“Your wish is my command, my sweet cupcake,” Mart replied. He stopped his antics and grabbed a sandwich as Diana grasped his hand and pulled him toward the French doors that led outside to a semi-enclosed terrace, which extended to an open patio bordered by the flower garden.  The other Bob-Whites gathered around the tray, exclaiming over the tasty snacks.  

Outside, Diana waited until they were out of sight of the house, and then turned to face Mart.  Her beautiful violet eyes were shooting sparks.  “Mart, were you teasing Trixie about falling off the stage?  How could you?  That’s the very thing she’s terrified of happening!  She has a complex about it!  Honey and I – and your mother – were forever convincing her she could do it.  And she’s really a good dancer.  I better not hear one more word about you teasing her, or … or … or our Prom date is off!”  She stamped her foot.

Mart had the grace to look ashamed.  “That’s me, opening my big mouth before I think!  I’ll tell her I’m sorry.  You girls have done a lot of practicing, I know.”

“Well, don’t tell her right away, or she’ll know I said something to you, and then she’ll be mad at me.  Just don’t tease her about it any more.”  Diana smiled.  “I know you’re really Trixie’s biggest fan, but some things cut a little too close.  She can’t take teasing about the recital because she is nervous about it.”   

Mart dug in the soft soil of the rose bed with the toe of his sneaker.  “I won’t tease her any more.  I’m sure you’ll all be just great. Say, will you need any props for the recital?  Dan and I could probably paint some palm trees and a beach scene for a backdrop.”

“Oh, what a wonderful idea, Mart!”  Diana’s eyes now sparkled with pleasure at his offer.  “Come on!  Let’s go tell the others.” She grabbed his hand and started back toward the house.

“Um, well, I haven’t exactly asked Dan yet.  He might not want to help.”  Mart looked as if he was regretting his impulsive offer.

“Don’t be silly!  When Trixie and Honey look at Dan, he’s butter in their hands.  He’d do anything if he thought it would make one of them happy, and you know it.”  Diana emphasized her words with a toss of her ebony hair.

“Okay, you’re right, Di.  But he’d do it for you, too.  He thinks you’re just … just …”  Mart stuttered to a stop.

“Just what?”  Diana stopped, dropping Mart’s hand and placing both of her own hands on her hips.  They were almost back to the patio.  “Just what does Dan think about me?”    

“He … he thinks you’re the nicest girl in the world.”  Mart looked unhappy as he admitted this information.

“He does?”  Diana smiled in spite of herself.  “Well, he’s very sweet, too.”  She peered at Mart, who looked even more miserable.  “Mart, what is the matter with you?  You’re acting completely weird tonight.”

“Well, I, um, I guess I’m afraid that you’ll like Dan better than you like me, now that you know how he feels.  All the girls think he is so hot.  I’m just … well, I’m just a … nerd.”

“Martin Johnson Belden!  What a thing to say!  First, I like Dan as a friend … a good friend.  I’m not interested in dating him, even if he didn’t already have a girlfriend.  And second, I don’t think you’re a nerd, but even if I did, so what?  I like you.  I like your goofy crew cut, I like your blue eyes and your freckles, I like your big words, and I like your generous heart!”  She suddenly pulled him close to her, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed him on the lips.

Stunned, Mart wrapped his arms around her and after a split second, he kissed her back.  The heady scent of her Yardley’s English Lavender shampoo filled his nostrils and he teased her lips open, deepening the kiss.  Diana’s hands were pressed into his back and her body was soft and yielding against his chest.

“Hey, you two!  Get inside, or get a room!”  Dan’s voice caused the couple to break apart.  Both were panting heavily.  Diana smoothed her hair and tugged at her dress to make sure it was down where it belonged.  Mart turned aside to tuck his shirt into his jeans and to make sure that nothing about his clothing was awry.     

As Diana expected, the other Bob-Whites were enthusiastic about Mart’s idea of painting a scenic backdrop.  Brian and Jim both promised to make the trip home the next weekend in order to help. 

“I think there are some beach chairs in our boathouse that Mother and Daddy would let us use, too,” offered Honey.   “A couple of chairs wouldn’t take up too much room on the stage, would they?  And they’re not too heavy.”

“Let’s make a list of all the props we think we can get, and show it to Miss Hali’a.  There might be a limit to how many things can be stored backstage.”  Diana produced a pencil and paper as she spoke.  “Mart, Dan, do you guys think you could be our stage crew?”

“Sure, Di.  We’d be glad to do it.”  Dan and Mart both answered at the same time.

“Hey, Trix, remember your dad’s ukulele that you wanted to pretend you were playing?  Do you think he’d let us use it?  I mean, just to sit in one of the chairs.”  Honey’s eyes glowed as she began to picture the stage set in her mind’s eye.  

“I’m sure Dad would let us use his old uke.  That would be cool!”  Trixie spoke for the first time.  She was smiling.  “Mart, thanks for thinking about making a scenic backdrop.  We’ll talk to Miss Hali’a tomorrow at dance class.”


April 15, 1973

The next day being Saturday, the three Bob-White girls were up early.  Mart and Dan were driving them to dance class in order to meet and talk with Miss Hali’a after class.  Although all of the girls had their drivers’ licenses, their parents did not like for them to drive outside of town.  This rule had been the source of numerous arguments, but the parents held firm.  As a result, Dan was at the wheel of the BWG station wagon as they set off.

As class ended, Trixie approached her dance instructor. “Miss Hali’a, we – that is, Honey, Di, and I – were wondering if we could have some kind of scenic backdrop or props on the stage while we dance in the recital.  You know, something to help make the audience feel as if we were in Hawai’i.  Do you think Miss Rhonda would let us?”

“What kind of props do you mean, Trixie?  There won’t be much time between each group of dancers, and there is limited storage space backstage.  I do know that Miss Rhonda isn’t going to purchase any props.”  The pretty, dark-haired Hawai’ian girl looked interested, despite her skepticism.

“What Trixie means, Miss Hali’a, is that her brother Mart, and our friend, Dan Mangan, offered to paint a canvas backdrop of a beach scene,” Diana explained.  “Trixie’s dad has a ukulele he’ll let us use, and Honey has a couple of beach chairs we can borrow.  So I don’t think that would take up too much room.  We’d pay for the canvas and paints ourselves, so it wouldn’t cost the studio any money.”

“And the other hula students could use the same backdrop and props for their dances,” Honey added.  Two groups of younger students, including Diana’s young twin sisters, were presenting a hula during the recital as well.  

“Hmmm, I’ll have to speak to Miss Rhonda.  She would have to approve any props.  But if she says it’s all right, it’s fine with me.”  Hali’a smiled.  “So your dad has a ukulele, Trixie?  That’s an unusual musical instrument around this part of the country.  Does he play?”

“My uncle Harold was at Pearl Harbor for a month or so, back in 1951.  He brought back gifts for his parents and younger brothers – my dad and Uncle Andy.  Dad taught himself how to play when he was in college, and he still plays every now and then.  He says it’s genuine koa wood – whatever thatis.”

Hali’a’s eyes widened as Trixie spoke.   Her face paled and she took in a deep, shuddering breath.

“What’s wrong, Miss Hali’a?”  Honey’s voice reflected her concern.  “Do you need to sit down?”

Diana pulled the piano bench from its place in front of the upright piano below the stage.  “Sit down, Miss Hali’a.  I’ll get a glass of water for you.”

The dance instructor sank gracefully onto the bench, but she waved away Diana’s offer of water.  “I’m all right, girls.  It was just a shockto hear that your dad’s ukulele came from Hawai’i.  I’ve been looking for a ukulele for this whole past year that I’ve been in White Plains.  My great-grandfather made ukuleles back in the 1920s.  He made them by hand, and there were only about fifty.  My mother has been working on a project todocument all of his ukuleles.  She’s writing a book about him and is trying to track down all of his instruments and get pictures of them.  She’s been working on this for about five years now.  So far, she’s learned what happened to about thirty-five of them, and fourteen are still in our family.”

“Gleeps, Miss Hali’a!”  Trixie’s blue eyes were wide.  “That only leaves one to find!  Do you have any clues about what might have happened to it?”

“We know that it was pawned around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and our research has indicated that it was bought by someone from Westchester County, New York.  That’s a big reason why I chose to come here to school this year.  But I’ve placed classified ads in every paper publishedin the county, spoken to the head of the music department here, and visited all of the music teachers I could find in the Yellow pages.  It hasn’t turned up.”

“I wonder if Trixie’s dad’s ukulele could possibly be the one you’re looking for?  Wouldn’t it be too perfectly perfect if it was?”   Honey’s eyes danced as she thought about the possibility.

“Would you recognize the ukulele if you saw it, Miss Hali’a?”  Diana was fascinated by the idea of locating the long-lost instrument.

“Actually, I have a picture of my great-uncle playing the ukulele.  It’s in black and white, but you can see quite a bit of detail in the picture.  Besides that, we have learned that Great-grandfather signed every instrument he made with a symbol on the back of the body of the uke.  I know what the symbol looks like, so I could recognize it if I saw it.”

“Let me ask my parents, but I’m sure they would love for you to come to our house for dinner.  You could see the ukulele and your search might be over!”  Trixie was almost bouncing in her excitement.

“Trixie, I wouldn’t dream of imposing on your parents’ hospitality!”  Miss Hali’a was obviously torn between the desire to see Peter Belden’s ukulele and fear of intruding.

“Moms and Dad always say Crabapple Farm has stretchy walls. I know they want to meet you and they’d love to have you over.”  Trixie chattered on, her words tumbling over each other.  “Maybe not this weekend, but I’ll bet they’ll want to have a cookout to say goodbye to Brian and Jim – those are mine and Honey’s older brothers – when they go back to college at the end of Spring Break.”

“If the weather is bad, I’m sure my parents would love to have everyone over for a celebration,” Honey added.  “Our house is big, and there would be plenty of space for all of the Bob-Whites and our families to sit down indoors while we eat.”

“Mummy told me that she wants to have Miss Hali’a over for dinner again, too, before she leaves New York.  She’s been to our house before, so she knows how to get there.  So if either of you couldn’t do it, I’m sure we could have everyone for a get-together.”  Diana was crouched next to the bench whereHali’a was seated, but she glanced up at her friends as she spoke.

Hali’a laughed and patted Diana’s hand.   “Thank you all, girls!  I really appreciate your hospitality, and it would be great to see your dad’s ukulele, Trixie.  Although I’m not getting my hopes up that it could be the one!  I’ve been disappointed too many times.  Why don’t you check with your parents, and you can let me know next Saturday.  Or, I’ll give you my address and phone number.  You can call me or write if your parents want to invite me to come out to Sleepyside.”  She glanced at her watch.  “Oh, my goodness!  It’s almost time for the next class to arrive.  We need to leave so we don’t hold up the ballet class that starts in fifteen minutes.”

Just then, the door at the other end of the long practice studio opened, and Mart Belden’s blond head appeared.  “Hey, squaws!  I thought your class was over at ten-thirty.  We need to get going, so Dan and I can study for our Advanced Biology test before it’s time to patrol the preserve again.”

“We’re coming, Mart,” Trixie answered him.  “Miss Hali’a, please come and meet my brother Mart and our friend, Dan Mangan.  They’re the two who volunteered to make the props for our recital.”  She took the teacher’s hand and hurried to the door.  Honey and Diana followed at a more sedate pace,carrying the gym bags which held their street clothes.




Mrs. Belden agreed that a cookout at Crabapple Farm would be a perfect way to send off the two older Bob-Whites, as well as to meet Miss Hali’a.  The weather forecast called for sunny skies and mild temperatures for the following weekend, and after consulting with the Wheelers and the Lynches, the party was set for Sunday afternoon on the Beldens’ terrace.  Trixie dashed off an invitation to Miss Hali’a and ran down to the mailbox to post it, even though the mail wouldn’t be picked up until Monday.

Afterward, she ran back up the drive and into the house.  At the door of her dad’s study, she stopped to catch her breath, and then knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Peter Belden invited.  Standing in the doorway, Trixie had to take a few more breaths before she was able to make her request.

“Dad – can I – borrow – your – ukulele?”  she panted.  “Miss Hali’a – is looking for one – that her – grandfather made – I mean, her great-grandfather.  Back in the 1920s.  I told her that you had an old ukulele, because we were thinking about using it for a prop in our recital.  She has a picture of the one she is looking for.  Oh!  Wouldn’t it be too exciting for words if yours was the same one?”

Mr. Belden looked up, a bemused smile on his face.  “Slow down, Princess, and tell me again exactly what you mean.”  He patted the footstool in front of his chair and set down his newsmagazine.

By the time Trixie had explained her story again, her father was shaking his head in amazement.  “You girls are welcome to use my ukulele, and I’ll be happy for Miss Hali’a to look at it.  If – and that’s a big if – it turns out to be the one her grandfather made, she’s welcome to have it.  But I don’t think my uke is old enough to have been made in the 1920s.  Your uncle Harold spent a few days in Hawai’i in 1951, on his way home from serving in the Korean War.  Hawai’i wasn’t a state back then, you know.  Harold bought souvenirs for the whole family; your Uncle Andy got a ukulele, too.  I’m pretty sure that he bought them at a pawn shop.  But the chances of us having the ukulele that Hali’a is looking for … well, they’re about as good as the chance of finding a needle in a haystack.  So please don’t get your hopes up.”  





Author’s Notes

3305 words

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2008 by MaryN/ Dianafan.

Huge thanks to my editors, Trish, Steph H, Ryl, and Ronda!  Each provided insights and suggestions that challenged me to improve this story. Any mistakes are mine, not theirs.  You ladies are fantastic!

I'm deeply grateful to chromasnake, who helped me to make my pages web-friendly. Thank you, my friend!

The picture of the ukulele used in my title graphic was taken from this site, and is used with the permission of its owner, David Hurd, who makes the handcrafted ukuleles pictured.

If anyone wants to know what some of the clothing looks like, here is a montage of views from 1970s vintage pattern envelopes. In most cases, these patterns were found for sale on the internet, i.e. eBay, etc. The images were borrowed by me and are used without permission of the sellers or the pattern companies. The mu’u mu’u pattern is currently available. It comes from the Victoria Jones pattern collection and may be ordered here.

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