326T: 1950’s young detective gang? (Solved!)

I was in elementary school in the early 90’s and remember reading a series of novel/short stories in class from a book series. They were similar to Encyclopedia Brown and Nate the Great, but the time frame of the books was more low tech (they had flashlights or torches I think, but don’t remember TV ever being mentioned), probably circa 1930’s to 1950’s so a little before Encyclopedia Brown time frame.

I remember 3 distinct stories that happened. The main characters were young, elementary school aged, and engaged in small town mysteries and adventures. One of the stories involved one person from this young gang following someone or something into a local cave and the main character followed them/him but tied raw liver meat to his shoes and told a friend if he didn’t come out to get a police officer and a tracking dog to find him from the scent of the liver meat on his shoes. They ended up finding him and the person lost in the cave.

A second story involved a new teacher the main character didn’t like and he intended to frame him by making him appear to be an alcoholic and planting alcohol in his house. The plot may be located in a baptist southern town as the main character thought the alcohol conviction would be a death sentence for the guy. I don’t remember much of the rest of that specific plot except that Mint Schnapps were part of the story and how the teacher was purportedly covering up his alcohol breath. The teacher found him out and apologized to the kid that he did not like him being his teacher but the town had appointed him, the protagonist reconciled with him eventually.

A third minor story was the protagonist forgot to study for an exam and tried to contract mumps from a friend of his who was out sick that same week. He snuck over to his friends house and asked him to breath in his face repeatedly. The protagonist was young, coming of age, used m’am and pal a lot in his vocabulary. The book or series may have been published in the 70’s or 80’s but I don’t remember a whole lot of technology being used in the stories though, and the prohibition aspect lead me to believe it is older. It could be Encyclopedia Brown but I’ve read through what I believe to be all of the book plots and didn’t see it.

2 thoughts on “326T: 1950’s young detective gang? (Solved!)

  1. I remember the mumps story from “The Great Brain” by John D. Fitzgerald, but the narrator, J.D., was trying to get the mumps before his older brother Tom, aka T.D., aka The Great Brain, because he was tired of getting sick last while a recovered Tom would be off having fun. I specifically recall J.D. later taunting a bedridden T.D. by eating a “heel” of toasted bread covered in butter and cinnamon in front of him. But he soon realized it was not a good idea to be on the wrong side of the Great Brain.

    “The Great Brain” is a series of books set in Utah in the late 1800s. I don’t recall the other stories you mentioned but they definitely sound like plausible plots for T.D. and J.D. to get caught up in.

    • Wow you are fast! That was exactly the series I was thinking of, confirmed on wikipedia. One thing I remember was that our teacher asked what we thought a water closet was before we started the series and (before internet) we had to go home and ask our parents or grand parents. No one in our class figured it out. And the wiki article mentions the water closet and Sears Roebuck issue and I remembered that that too was an issue in the stories. Guess I was off by a couple of decades.

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