Bayport has entered the modern age: the automat has come to town! The boys are excited to have their good chum Chet Morton show them how to operate the automat, put a coin in the slot next to the desired food and presto you can open the cubbie and feast. The gang is having a great time and even start playing shovin' buddies, when Joe is pushed into a blonde man and jostles him. The man has an overblown reaction, but the boys don't think too much of it. Later, Joe is shoved into the same man, making him drop a package this time. The man, perhaps justifiably, is even more pissed off and thinks they're out to get him. Again, the situation is laughed off and the gang agrees to meet up later at Chet's for a party.
Then...at midnight...it happened.
'Midnight' has a dramatically different opening here then in the revised edition, which has the Hardy Boys breaking into a scientists house at the behest of their father to safeguard an invention. Were automats not cool anymore by the 1960s?
I'm given to understand the rest of the plot is similar with electronic gizmos replacing some of the loot being kicked around. I never read the revised edition of this, but the leisurely pace the narrative takes while Frank and Joe travel to New York City to follow a clue and then are forced to hitch-hike back home to Bayport over a couple days doesn't seem like something that would have been allowed.
I cannot stress enough how cool these early editions of the Hardy Boys are. Also, Aunt Gertrude was delightful in a crisis. Other than some basic safety concerns for two teens spending several nights out of doors and hitch-hiking, I didn't see any reason to butcher this work for 'modern' audiences. 1920s slang has more appeal to me than that of the 1950s.
Next: 'While the Clock Ticked'
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