Before He Was Jerry West, Author of The Happy Hollisters: Andrew Svenson, College Professor
Andrew Svenson wore many hats over his lifetime. He was a poet; plumber’s assistant; advertising salesman; husband; father of six; newspaper reporter, writer, and editor; Rotarian; Mason; college professor; world traveler; and series book author and editor.
His publishing work is his longest-lasting legacy. He wrote, edited, outlined, and revised more than 80 books for children as an employee and later a partner of the Stratemeyer Syndicate using various pseudonyms, including Franklin W. Dixon (The Hardy Boys), Laura Lee Hope (The Bobbsey Twins), Alan Stone (The Tollivers Adventure Series), and of course, Jerry West (The Happy Hollisters).
Most of what we know about Andrew Svenson is from family connections and recollections, but now we have a rare glimpse of how he appeared to others. One of his favorite occupations—before he joined the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1948—was teaching journalism and creative writing at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey. Each semester he asked his students to write a description of someone they knew. One student, E. B. Turchette, chose the professor himself as the subject of his essay. Andrew Svenson is shown here with his students and wearing his trademark bow tie and fedora.
Description of a Guy I Know
By E. B. Turchette
Andy had a way about him. At first sight he seemed like an average individual of medium height and a little on the chubby side. With a roundish head set squarely between good-sized shoulders, Andy looked a little shy of forty.
He had a perplexing manner besides his disarming appearance when I first met him . . . that is, until I got to know him better. The most unusual thing about Andy that struck me first was his almost constant smile edging out over a round, full-jowelled face. I guess you’d call it a half-smile – almost a grin.
Every time Andy smiled, his large white teeth seemed to form a neat picket fence between the two roundish, ruddy balls set high up on his cheekbones.
His straight nose formed a bridge between two merry gray eyes. Merry eyes, and yet they seemed to be engaged with thoughtful preoccupation . . . even as they twinkled!
A broad forehead gradually disappearing into black thinning hair and his inevitable bow tie just about complete this picture of Andy – except for his heavy-rimmed glasses, which he hardly ever wore.
Every time Andy grinned or whatever you’d call it, his firm chin receded a little and he flicked at his teeth with one of the stems of his glasses.
And that’s what puzzled me. I couldn’t tell what he was really thinking, or whether he was laughing at or with me, or just politely!
But after six or seven weeks I’ve learned that the little nuggets of knowledge that roll from his lips are beginning to stick with me. They just aren’t found in books. The guy is really doing a teaching job in his own unique way. Now Andy doesn’t puzzle me anymore.