Nancy Roman

The Best Book I Ever Read

We haven’t had much snow this Winter (Autumn, however, was ridiculous).

We had a little snow last weekend, and as I looked out over the slope of our backyard, I thought about sledding. And the image of sledding always reminds me of…

Annette Funicello.

When I was about ten, I became friends with a girl in my class. Maureen only lived two blocks away. I don’t know why we hadn’t made friends before. I have no idea whether she was new to the neighborhood or the school, but I have no recollection of her before fourth grade.

I loved Maureen’s house. Specifically, her front yard.

(I pulled this picture off of Google maps, and then blew it up.  It’s not your eyes; it’s pretty blurry. Of course, I could drive over to Maureen’s old house and take a photo. But I’m sitting by the toasty woodstove and I can’t possibly get up.)

Anyway, Maureen’s front yard:  it was a long gentle slope. It was created by God for sledding. And God even added a stone wall at the bottom to keep you from sledding right into the traffic.

I loved sledding. And Maureen was a nice little girl. So I was very industrious in being the best friend I could possibly be. Even if some of Maureen’s other activities were a bit suspect, even to a ten-year-old.

Maureen loved Annette Funicello. She had all her records and books. Maureen often tied a little scarf around her neck, like this:

Maureen also liked to dress in capris and dance to Annette albums.

This was Maureen’s favorite:

Now I may have been only ten, but I knew corny when I saw it. But my love for Maureen’s front yard was so intense, that I often donned a pair of Maureen’s capris, tied a scarf sideways on my neck, and Hucklebucked in Maureen’s living room.

Maureen liked to call herself Mo. But I thought that was a very unattractive name, and I always called her Maureen. I’m sure she thanks me for that today.

Maureen had an extremely nice mother too. Once, on parent’s day, the teacher gave me a bad scolding for forgetting my homework, and when I turned around, I saw that Maureen’s Mom was in the back of the room. Her Ma told me later that it was completely unprofessional for the teacher to humiliate me in front of everyone. She was a wonderful mother, even if she did give us healthy snacks.

Maureen had a brother who was already grown-up. He was a jockey, and that’s why Maureen had so many record albums. (I found out much later than jockeys and disc jockeys were not exactly the same thing.)

When Maureen and I went sledding, she wore her good coat. This amazed me. Sometimes she wore her good coat and plaid capris. I wore snow pants.

Then we went in for healthy snacks and dancing with Annette. I would have danced to Annette albums every day in order to slide down Maureen’s front yard. It was SO worth it.

Maureen gave me Swan Lake paper dolls for Christmas, which I was quick to tell everyone in class that I collected, as all the other girls were already giving up playing with dolls. Or claiming to.

When the book fair came to our school, I bought a book intended to impress Maureen, even though it was already Spring and past sledding season. I was a very good planner.

Anyway, here is the book:

But it turned out that I loved this book.

“Annette: Sierra Summer” is – to this very day –  the best book I ever read in my life.

It must be. I read it three times.

I haven’t even read “Hamlet” three times.


  1. Nice piece. I especially love the last line: I haven’t even read “Hamlet” three times. I burst out laughing.


  2. And here I thought you were going to say that the best book you ever read was my ebook–Postcards From Home…lol
    But really–I love your choice–I had that same book…in fact, I think I may still have it…I loved it too and should dig it out to read again.


    • I wish I could remember one thing about it – after all, it is my favorite book.


  3. I never read that book. My memory of Annette was that I wanted to be built like her and have that wonderful hair. Of course, I was totally skinny and blonde. Bummer.


    • Me too! But I’ll bet Annette sometimes longed to be skinny and blonde. Doesn’t everybody?


  4. RVingGirl

    Excellent piece Nancy! Brought me back to the good old days!
    And Kate, shame on you for complaining about being blonde and skinny. Ha ha. Don’t we all wish we still were!


  5. RVingGirl

    PS. My favorite book up until I matured (last year) was The Boxcar Children! How I wanted to live in a boxcar by an old dump where we could go exploring! Ha ha


  6. Great post: I befriended a boy in my class merly because their family had an indoor swimming pool (absolut luxery!). Much later I realised he was a great guy too, which made it a lot easier to stay friends with him in the long run (He’s still the only person I’m in touch with today from my German High School).

    On a sidenote: I used to sled on a slope that ended up on a frozen pond (totally awesome!), but today the pond doesn’t freeze anymore and we rarely get enough snow for sledding. Global warming is really robbing our children (well my future) of a lot of fun. I wonder if they’ll grow up with the same set of values and morals having never sled onto a frozen pond?


  7. Many fantastic jokes, but my favorite is the one about the jockey brother.


  8. It’s been forever since I’ve been reminded of Annette Funicello and those Mickey Mouse ears. Thanks for taking me back in time!


  9. Loved this. It really took me back. About those capris, though…didn’t we call them “pedal pushers” back then? 🙂


  10. For me it was Nancy Drew. I thought she was the most spohisticated teenager ever, and I wanted to be like her and drive a convertible!


    • Oh yeah! I wanted a ‘roadster’ – whatever that means.


  11. I loved old Frankie/Annette movies as a kid. It almost broke my heart to see it spoofed on a 70s SNL skit — super funny all the same. What is the book about?


    • I have absolutely no idea, But i loved ii – I remember that.


  12. Great blog. My sister commented to you once, because I told her to read your entry. Our mothers share the exact same birthday, almost. Um, no, I mean YOUR mother and OUR mother(my sister and me). This is getting convoluted.

    I would read your entry and then email my sister saying, “I think this is our long lost sister!!”. We have another sister, so you would be the fourth girl, making it FOUR girls and two boys. I like stacking the deck.

    Please visit me at my bran-spankin’-new blog,, which is obsessed with thrifting and upcycling, primarily clothes. I only have three posts to date and already I’m worried about being boring, but I’d love it if you said hello. After all, what’s family for?!!

    All the best,



  13. Now I’m curious…what happened to Maureen? Still friends? Still sled together?


    • Maureen and I have stayed friends for a very long time, although I haven’t seen her now in a few years. But good friends in high school, and we even worked at the same company until about 8 years ago. She is still as sweet as when she was 10, but I’m not sure she dances to Annette records any more.


      • Had to reply to this one with an old memory of my own. I was so jealous of Maureen. She had taken my one true friend away, speaking as a 10 year old don’t you know. Never forget the moment I realized I wasn’t your only friend anymore. But yes I remember that house on West St with the beautiful long hill in front, stone wall and chestnut trees. Favorite place for collecting chestnuts.. Loving your stories, Nancy. Many wonderful memories.


  14. Wonderful as always! The photos are priceless.


  15. Oh, I love your writing. Don’t ever stop!


  16. Great post! I’m guessing you still have Annette’s book?


  17. Reblogged this on notquiteold and commented:

    In memory of Annette Funicello, I am re-posting my essay about Annette:


  18. Let me second my previous comment.


  19. She will be missed by all of us who looked up to her. Loved how you wrote about her as she fairly defined your relationship with a friend you looked up to, too.


  20. sad to lose her — she was a good memory


  21. Nice that you reposted this in her memory.


  22. Fun that you reposted as I hadn’t read this before 🙂 MJ RIP Annette.


  23. She always seemed like a gentle, classy lady. RIP.


  24. Laurie

    Well, I tried to like this but it said it didn’t recognize me. But it recognizes me for replies. I loved this. Loved the memories. I collect paper dolls. I have a number of ballet paper dolls, including Swan Lake. What is wrong with paper dolls? I bequeath my collection to you


    • You can only “Like” is you are a blogger, I think. My new paperdoll collection is


  25. I need to to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it.

    I have got you book-marked to look at new things you post…


  26. Love this. You were truly lucky to have such a friend, with such a front yard at that.
    (P.S. I’m not of the Micky Mouse Club generation, but sometimes I look back at Annette and then at the Disney stars of today and wonder, “Why did they start there?” and (like everyone) “How did they get here?” One for the ages. It makes a good case for animated role models.)


  27. dixiedragon

    wow what memories this brings back


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