Throwback Thursday: “The Secret Hide-out,” by John Peterson (1965)!

John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-out was absolutely one of my favorite books growing up — and with good reason.  As I’ve noted on this blog before, I and the other boys on my street placed paramount, enduring importance on whatever iteration of our “club” that we had going — whether we had a viking club, an explorer club, a “ninja clan,” or whatever.  (Did other groups of boys act like this?  I honestly wonder.  The human instinct for affiliation ran pretty strong at an early age for me and my neighbors.)

Anyway, this book was a goldmine for a second grader with our particular brand of preadolescent tribalism.  It was about a trio of boys who find a mysterious “club handbook” behind a stone at two of their number’s grandmother’s house.  The handbook outlines club minutes, membership tests, and the location of the titular secret hideout — along with instructions on how to craft the masks, spears and shields — and with whistles made out of paper.  (I swear to you that those whistles were easy to make and that they really worked quite well.)

Anyway, The Secret Hide-out was a 1960’s book that my brother would have brought home from school in the 1970’s — probably from one of those Scholastic Books fairs.  It wound up in my hands by 1980 or so.  I am by no means the only person who remembers this book; it was a favorite for a lot of people.  There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it.

There’s even a sequel, as it turns out — Peterson wrote Enemies of the Secret Hide-out a year later.  This time out, the Amazon description informs me, there is a rival club of boys who try to appropriate the clubhouse.  (I know from boyhood experience that such conflicts were entirely common.)  I might have to hunt that one down someday ona lark.


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