We’ve all heard of Throwback Thursday, the day you post photos from the past to Facebook or Instagram. Retro Reads is my bookish version of Throwback Thursday. I’ll be rereading and posting a recap/review of books I loved when I was younger, mostly series books. Fair warning: These are more recaps than reviews. They will be thorough and there will be spoilers.
The Girls of Canby Hall #11 – With Friends Like That
Author: Judith Sachs writing as Emily Chase
Only a miracle will save Canby Hall.
Shelley, Faith, and Dana are stunned when they hear that their school will be shut down unless money is raised by the end of the semester. But what can the girls do? Time is running out…Each of the girls comes up with a plan, but will any of them work? When Dana meets the young Chris Canby, son of the current owner, she thinks he’s the answer. But he seems like a carbon copy of his father. Will he be a friend or an enemy — or a new romance?
The girls had better think fast if they’re going to save the school.
I really don’t remember this storyline. I’m also finding that I have no memory of Dana and Shelley fighting SO MUCH. It’s not in this book, but books 3, 9, and 10 all had major fighting between the two.
As Faith struggles to get an antique table that was given to her by Addison House’s houseparents (who are getting new furniture) up the curving oak staircase (fancy!) of Baker, Alison informs her that Ms. Allardyce has called a special assembly the next morning and asks her to spread the word.
The next morning, all the girls of Canby (except for Pamela, who has chosen not to attend the mandatory assembly) gather in the auditorium. Ms. Allardyce is very serious in her announcement: The current owner of Canby Hall (a descendant of the Canby who started the school) has decided to sell the school and has found a buyer. If the sale goes through, the school will close at the end of the semester.
Everyone — from student to faculty — is stunned. Ms. Allardyce goes on to explain that the school doesn’t have an endowment, like similar schools do, and that the current owner no longer feels that the school is a viable financial investment. She says that she’s done everything she could, but she welcomes suggestions.
The students aren’t willing to accept this fate. Dana calls a meeting of Baker, and most of the girls who live there rush back to the dorm. Pamela has gone to breakfast and a few of the girls have already gone to class, but there are still about forty girls there. There are a variety of ideas, from talking to the Canby who owns the school to a bake sale (that suggestion is quickly ridiculed), but no good ones. Before breaking up the meeting, Dana gives everyone an assignment to think of ideas and meet up again that night.
Dana, Faith, and Shelley cut class to brainstorm. Settled in the Round Table Room where they won’t get caught skipping, they talk about endowments. Dana points out that all the schools that have endowments, including Oakley Prep just down the road, have something that Canby doesn’t: rich alumni. I find that really difficult to believe. What kind of boarding school is this? Dana, Faith and Shelley certainly aren’t rich (and they have scholarships), but the average poor and middle class families are not sending their kids to boarding school. Besides, we know Casey’s family is loaded, and Pamela’s mother is a famous actress. Surely those two aren’t the only rich kids to have attended Canby.
Aha! Dana says tuition is $8500 a year. The inflation calculator at dollartimes.com tells me this is equivalent to $18,812 in 2014 dollars. While that’s on the low end for boarding school tuition, even with partial scholarships (Dana’s parents pay 2/3 of her tuition), the average Canby kid is going to come from some means. Shelley guesses that about half the student body is on partial scholarship.
They also state that there are about 250 students in the school. We know that around 50 live in Baker (approximately 10 were missing from that meeting earlier), which leaves roughly 100 each for Addison and Charles Houses. Although some of them might be day students from Greenleaf. Still, those dorms are a lot bigger than I had imagined them to be.
They do a little math and end up with a figure of about two and a half million that they need to raise. Now they start trying to figure out which of their fellow students are rich: Andrea Granick (but her father is a tightwad), Toni Eberhardt, Cheryl (father drives a Jaguar), and, oh, yes…Pamela. It’s about time they thought of her, not that Pamela is going to be as eager to save the school as they are. Shelley points that out, but what other choice do they have?
Dana goes for a run after school. While running on the road (to make better time than taking the path next to the road), she closes her eyes (!) and collides with another runner coming around a curve. It’s a good thing he wasn’t a car.
He’s good-looking, of course. He immediately asks her if she’s from Canby, saying that she looks like she might be. He goes to Oakley, but she hasn’t seen him before because he’s a transfer student. Dana mentions that she’ll be a transfer student next year — back at her old school in New York, and he says that he had heard her school is closing. Dana insists that it’s not definite, just a rumor at this point. He says it’s no rumor and introduces himself as Chris Canby.
His father owns Canby Hall.
Dana thinks this is a great opportunity, if only she can convince Chris to talk his father into not selling. Chris says his father really isn’t interested in educating girls, but in making money, and that’s he’s good at it. I don’t think Chris is going to be on the girls’ side. Chris thinks that the Canby founder would agree with his father that it’s more financially wise to sell the estate than to keep running the school. It’s progress!
Dana tells Chris that she feels sorry for him. He says not to; he’s got a huge allowance, he gets along with his dad, and he’s going to Harvard next year.
Dana doesn’t want to give up on Chris just yet, and he’s interested in seeing her — socially — too.
That night at dinner, Dana tells Faith and Shelley about Chris. They’re excited at first, until Dana tells them that he’s on his father’s side.
“The only kind of pull this guy is going to give us is in the opposite direction. He’s a real chip off the old block, a carbon copy of his father. I’ve never met anybody so…so Republican!
Way to get political, book. Shelley takes offense; her whole family is Republican and always has been. Dana apologizes and says that Chris is just really into money. She’s going to go out with him though.
Tom has made a list of possible donors from the town of Greenleaf. Tom, by the way, has blue-black hair, a dramatic color not seen in Iowa. I hadn’t really pictured Tom with such dark hair. I would have guessed brown. After he and Shelley finish eating at Pizza Pete’s, he introduces her to Mr. Sampton, an elderly Greenleaf resident who knows everyone. They ask for his help in coming up with some more names of people who might want to contribute, with Tom stressing that if the school goes, a company from Boston will be moving in and bringing a lot of big city strangers with it. Mr. Sampton is odd and cranky, and he doesn’t have any ideas but he tells them that he will think it over and they can find him at the restaurant every Tuesday.
After Tom encourages her to start hitting up the people on his list, Shelley returns to Canby with her first contribution: $100 from a doctor in town. It’s a disappointing figure and a far cry from the millions they need.
Faith lies in wait for Pamela at the school’s exercise room, then tries to convince her to ask her mother for money. Pamela isn’t buying the “Canby Hall has everything” you could ever want approach, so Faith switches to the “if only we had more money we would have everything” tactic. Pamela doesn’t fall for that either, nor does she think the school has more to offer than her California home. Finally Faith hits on something that makes Pamela reconsider: her mother will have to go to a lot of trouble to find another new school for Pamela’s senior year. Rumor has it that Pamela was thrown out of three schools before Canby, and other schools might not even want her.
Faith’s excited about Pamela’s half-hearted agreement to ask her mother about it. She’s counting on $500,000 from Yvonne Young and hopes that some of Shelley’s donors can come up with a few hundred thousand more. Then donations from parents can cover the rest.
Um, wow. She’s really expecting a lot from these people. Let’s head back over to DollarTimes, shall we? That $500,000 is worth $1,106,595.44 in 2014. That’s a lot of money to ASK someone for even if you know they can afford it.
On her way back to the dorm, Faith bumps into Michael Frank, Canby’s guidance counselor. She tells him that she, Shelley, and Dana have a great plan to raise the million dollars they need. Michael gently informs her that the school’s budget is three million. She needs three times what she thought!
This news really puts a damper on Faith’s excitement, and she heads back to the room to let Dana and Shelley know the bad news. While they’re still digesting the news, Casey bursts in with an idea. She wants to get money from some large corporations. They don’t want to hurt Casey’s feelings by laughing, so they don’t know what to say.
Why is that such a terrible idea? I mean, is it any more of a stretch than trying to get some small town citizens to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars? Chances are, some Canby kid has a parent who’s an executive at one of these corporations. As I’ve said before, Yvonne Young isn’t the only parent with money and connections.
Just then, Alison stops by the room to tell them that Ms. Allardyce has already started a letter to all the parents. They’re going in the mail after she meets with Mr. Canby on Saturday.
(I swear these books switch back and forth between Ms. and Miss when it comes to the headmistress. Ms. Allardyce seems most natural to me, so I’ll write it that way throughout my recap, then sometimes I’ll notice the book is calling her Miss Allardyce so I’ll go through and change each Ms. to a Miss. And then this book is definitely using the Ms.)
The girls decide they want to meet with Mr. Canby, too. Alison wishes them luck but won’t go with them. That’s okay, though. They round up of some of their classmates to join them.
Friday night, Dana gets a phone call from Chris Canby. He invites her to movies the next night, but she turns him down because of the short notice. He says he’s been busy with a business project. He and his group are trying to get Greenleaf store owners to hire student interns — from Oakley Prep, naturally, and maybe from Greenleaf High, too — for the summer. He says they would have included Canby girls as well, but it doesn’t look like any of them will be around after June. Dana take offense, of course, and hangs up on him, after telling him not to underestimate Canby girls.
First of all: what a jerk. So he doesn’t want to save the school. Fine. But why call up a girl you (presumably) like and rub it in that her school is closing and there’s nothing she can do to save it? Asshole. And second, summer “interns?” In local stores? You’ll stock shelves and run a cash register. That’s like your basic part-time job. There’s nothing internish about it. Besides that, won’t the Oakley guys be going home for the summer?
The next day, the group of girls who make up the Save Canby Hall Committee gather to march to Ms. Allardyce’s house. She’s not pleased to see them, but lets them in to speak to Mr. Canby anyway.
He advises them not to “trouble [your] heads about these matters.” That sounds suspiciously like a slam against them because they’re girls.
The girls try to reason with Mr. Canby, and ask for just a few months to try to raise the money they would need. Dana points out that it’s too late for them to find placement in a great school like Canby for next year. Mr. Canby seems softened as he apologizes, but he says that the business deal is going through as planned.
The following week, Shelley and Tom are out on his motorcycle when they see Mr. Sampton again, broken down on the side of the road.
There was this old man, hopping up and down around his old Ford like an angry gremlin, kicking the tires and muttering to himself. As Shelley climbed off the cycle, she heard him say, “This dragonet, colfarnit old heap! Makes me mad just to look at your blaterast engine!”
Tom takes a look at the car and diagnoses a problem with the butterfly valve. He says he can fix it enough to get it to the gas station, where Faith’s boyfriend Johnny’s father can make the repair. While he works, Mr. Sampton asks Shelley how her fundraising is going. She explains that it’s not going well and that it doesn’t seem like Mr. Canby is receptive anyway.
In three weeks, they’ve raised $5000. That’s pledged money, not in hand or in the bank. Yeah, I think they’re going to need a lot more than a few months.
As Shelley’s telling him that they need three million, Tom finishes up and says that he will follow Mr. Sampton into town to make sure he gets there without another breakdown.
When Pamela’s mother arrives the next day, Faith joins them and tells Yvonne the bad news about the school closing. Pamela hadn’t even mentioned it to her mother. Yvonne promises to help and to get her (Hollywood) friends involved in raising money for the school. She will get right on in as soon as she returns from Europe: in three months.
Faith’s disappointed. Three months will be too late! School will be out by then and the girls will have had to find other schools. Not to mention that the school will have been sold by then!
Yvonne doesn’t seem bothered. She says it’s never too late. She’ll get them their endowment, but she will have to deal with that later.
On Saturday night, Chris again calls Dana and invites her to brunch the next day — with his father. Dana thinks it will be a good opportunity to further her cause and agrees to go. She thinks that Mr. Canby is too proper to tell her to shut up or throw her out when she’s a guest in his home.
Chris drives Dana to Boston in his brand new Fiat Spider. Hm, isn’t that the same car the Wakefield twins shared in the Sweet Valley High books? Must have been popular, and the Wakefields must have been a little more well off than I thought if they’re giving their daughters the same kind of car that a successful businessman who owns an entire boarding school gives his son.
Mr. Canby recognizes Dana when they meet. Dana hadn’t told him she knew Chris, and she didn’t tell Chris about meeting his father either. Brunch is served: kippered herring, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and cranshaw melon. Gross. She’s embarrassed when, after she places her asparagus on her bread and butter plate, a waitress (Do they mean maid?) puts it on the right plate and then gives her a roll with butter. Um, rude. If someone makes a mistake like that, you’re supposed to ignore it, not point it out.
The waitress isn’t the only rude one in this house. Mrs. Canby corrects Chris when he uses the wrong fork and Mr. Canby takes the opportunity to rub it in when announces that the deal to sell Canby is going through as planned. Even Dana gets into the act, asking him if they could move Canby into a temporary home, like an old armory or fire station, if she and the other students can raise the money.
And now it’s Chris’s turn:
“Dana, my father said no. No is no.”
Don’t expect a second date, Chris.
The group eats in silence until Chris brings up the idea of moving Canby to the old abandoned lumber mill — the one that Shelley was held in when she was kidnapped — in Melrose IF the girls can raise the money.
Dana’s excited about the idea, suggesting that if the mill is turned into a dorm, Mr. Canby could charter some buses to take them to Oakley for classes.
Mr. Canby changes the subject and Dana realizes that she hates him.
On the way back to Greenleaf, Chris says he thought that one of them would have been able to change his father’s mind. He says he hasn’t given up yet. Dana’s confused by his change in attitude. I still haven’t forgiven him for his comment earlier.
By the time they reach Canby, Dana is almost resigned to returning to her school in New York. You know, Canby may be a lost cause, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other schools. She, Shelley, and Faith could at least attempt to get into another school so they could stay together. They wouldn’t be able to be with every one of their friends, but Casey is surely going to go to another boarding school. It wouldn’t hurt to TRY to find some place for the three (or four) of them.
Ms. Allardyce is going out of town the same weekend that Mr. Canby’s staff and representatives from the company buying the school are coming to Canby to take inventory. She’s appointed Michael and Alison temporary heads of the school in her absence.
Alison’s thinking the same way I am when she asks her girls in Baker who’s started their applications for new schools. She isn’t giving up yet, but she wants them to be prepared in case they don’t succeed.
Michael disagrees. He believes that once the girls get into other schools, they’re going to start thinking about going to those schools, and then their loyalties will be divided.
It’s the middle of the night when Casey gets an idea. Shei immediately gets out of bed and goes to room 407 to wake up Dana, Faith, and Shelley. She wants to switch around all the furniture, swap it out with furniture in other dorms, to confuse the people coming to take inventory. The girls tell her it’s a stupid idea because Ms. Allardyce probably has a list of the school’s assets somewhere. I’m not even sure if that was a serious suggestion because she comes up with another one right away. The girls aren’t sure this one will work either, but they agree to spread it around so the entire campus knows what to do. Even Pamela is on board with the idea.
On Saturday morning, the entire student body stages a sit-in. They have girls chained to and blocking the entrances of each of the dorms, the main building, the library, the science building, and the other buildings that contain substantial assets that the inventory team will want to access. Before they start, they inform Alison, not to ask permission but just as a courtesy to her. Alison calls Michael, then Ms. Allardyce.
Michael catches up with Dana as she’s checking on all the groups of protesters. He warns her that the sit-in isn’t going to work. He used to participate in them in college, so he knows they don’t get what the protesters want; the other side has all the power.
He does, however, plan to put in some calls, and not just to the Greenleaf newspaper, but to Boston media as well. Um, isn’t that something the girls should have thought of? What good is a protest without publicity? The papers weren’t going to just know to show up without being informed that there was something to see.
Mr. Canby is furious when faced with the sit-in. He spots Dana in the crowd and directs the blame at her. Dana says she tried to warn him that Canby Hall wasn’t going quietly.
“We have rights and we intend to make them known to the community.”
I don’t want the school sold either, but I’m not sure what rights she thinks she’s talking about. Mr. Canby does own the place and can sell it if he wants to.
The press finally shows up and interviews just about everyone: the students, Mr. Canby, even Michael and Alison. Mr. Canby announces that the Greenleaf sheriff has been called.
Before long, all eight of Greenleaf’s police officers (and three patrol cars) arrive. The sheriff immediately starts laughing over being called for this “emergency.” Mr. Canby orders him to arrest the girls for criminal trespass and disturbing the police. Alison steps in to try to calm everyone down. She says Ms. Allardyce is on her way and that the girls should unchain themselves.
No one moves. Mr. Canby again tells the sheriff to arrest them and points to the front line as the ringleaders. The sheriff knows most of the girls and is hesitant to take them in. Besides, he only has two cells and he’s certainly not going to lock them in there. He tells one of his officers to clip the chains and that he will take ten girls in now and come back for more, but he apologizes to the girls.
He ends up with forty girls in his office. His wife, who cleans the office every Saturday morning, serves coffee and hot chocolate to the girls, then goes home to make lunch for them. I’m sure that if she asked, Pizza Pete’s would probably send over some free pizzas. Or, hey, charge it to the school.
Most of the girls are afraid of what’s going to happen when their parents find out, but Casey said they wanted the publicity. She changes her tune, however, when she realizes that Ms. Allardyce is going to have to come pay their bail.
But before she arrives, Chris storms in. He’s angry with his father and can’t believe that he would go this far. Dana agrees; she’s never seen a jail cell in person before, only on TV. She tells Chris that they probably shouldn’t see each other anymore.
Chris begs her to give him a chance. He’s starting to see just how many people have been hurt by his father’s businesses. He wants to go to his father and convince him to drop the charges against the Canby students.
As he’s leaving, Mr. Sampton shows up at the jail. He’s come to bail the girls out. Faith promises to pay him back out of the fundraising money. Uh, I don’t think that’s what the money is for. You got yourselves thrown in jail; you pay your own bail. Mr. Sampton is going through his pockets looking for money to pay the bail. Just as he comes up with the last of it, Ms. Allardyce walks in with Michael and Alison.
“You have all gravely disappointed me,” Ms. Allardyce said softly. “I asked for your cooperation in my absence, and instead, I find a scandal to rival any that Canby Hall has ever known in its entire history. I don’t quite know how we will live it down, but we will certainly try.” Her voice was terribly hushed, painfully quiet.
I’m kind of interested in what other scandals Canby has known in the past. I bet the ’60s girls were something.
Ms. Allardyce wants to see the eight ringleaders at her house when they return to campus. Everyone else is docked from social events for the next month. Ms. Allardyce tells Mr. Sampton to keep his money, as it’s a school expense, and pays the bail. It’s $100 for all 40 of them, or $221.32 in 2014 dollars. Really? That’s it?
I’ve suddenly remembered how this book ends.
Ms. Allardyce transports the girls back to school in the school van. Upon arrival, Dana, Faith, Shelley, Casey, Ellie, Cheryl, Joan, and Ginny (all familiar names of recurring characters) head for Ms. Allardyce’s house to face the music.
“I hope you understand that I had to disapprove of what you did, and I wanted the others to see that this sort of behavior can’t be tolerated. But with you, I must be honest. I’m very proud of the way you decided to defend the school. I probably wouldn’t have felt this way a month or so ago, but I suppose we all grow up and maybe even become flexible as we grow older. You girls have taught me a great deal in my tenure here as headmistress. I will always remember you fondly, and with great esteem.”
I think she approves. She even hugs them. All of them.
She reminds them that they’re docked from social events, but before sending them on their way she tells them to watch the six o’clock news.
At six, all the girls are gathered around the TVs in their dorm lounges. Tom has come by to deliver the local newspaper — with a two page spread on the protest.
…everyone listened with eager anticiaption as the lead stories about war in the Middle East and the President’s news conference rolled by.”
Thirty years and the only thing changed is the names.
The Canby protest makes the second segment on the news. It’s a good story, very sympathetic to the girls’ plight. Immediately after it ends, the dorm phones start ringing. Parents continue to call and even arrive late into the night and the next morning. Some are even taking their girls home.
Dana’s mother wants her to come home right away. She’s concerned that it’s the end of Dana’s junior year and the distraction won’t be good for her GPA. Dana wants to stay and fight. Her mother agrees to contact Dana’s father in Hawaii and talk it over with him, but says that if he agrees that she should leave school the decision will be final.
Mail starts arriving that day, some of it just cards and notes wishing them luck, but some of it containing money and checks. Joan wants to start looking into nearby buildings they could rent for classrooms and dorms.
Chris comes by to let Dana know that his father has dropped the charges.
Alison stops in to tell the girls the news she just received: Ms. Allardyce is resigning. She’s calling an assembly in the morning to make the announcement. The mood is somber. Everyone thinks this is the final blow. It’s over.
The next morning at assembly, Ms. Allardyce acknowledges that the rumor of her resignation has probably spread to the entire student body. She announces that she’s not going anywhere. Her resignation is a formal protest against the sale of the school. She’s going to stay on as coordinator and acting principal until the school closes, but she’s not going to accept a salary.
Um, so basically she’s going to be doing her job for free? Way to show up the guy with the money, Ms. Allardyce. Save him some bucks!
She plans to be available to all the students and faculty to help them finish up the school year and transfer to new schools and jobs. She’s also interested in keeping the school going if there’s any possibility of that — but with a name change, of course.
Maybe they could call it Allardyce Academy.
Just then, the assembly is interrupted by the arrival of Ms. Allardyce’s secretary, who is dragging a stack of shoeboxes. She presents Ms. Allardyce with an envelope and says that a kid in a pickup brought them and said that they should be opened in front of the whole school.
Ms. Allardyce opens the envelope.
“‘This letter,'” she read into the microphone, “‘is for the entire student body and faculty, particularly the Save Canby Hall Committee.'” She looked up at the assembled crowd, then back at the note.
“‘When you’re playing for high stakes, you have to play every card you’ve got and some you haven’t. This should do for the first year. After that, you’re on your own.'”
The note isn’t signed.
She opens the top shoebox, loses her balance, and falls over, knocking over the box and spilling out…bundles of money. Lots and lots of money. Six shoeboxes full of money.
Everyone celebrates. Ms. Allardyce dismisses the assembly and takes the money to be counted. She’s sure there’s enough for at least a year. Since Dana, Faith, and Shelley graduate in a year, that’s all we really need.
As the girls are talking to Michael and Alison, they see Mr. Canby’s car pull up next to Ms. Allardyce’s house. They rush over to see what’s going on. Ms. Allardyce hears them coming and invites them in.
Mr. Canby has some news: the sale fell through. The bad publicity combined with the company realizing just how much work it would have to do on the school to convert it into what they wanted made them pull out. He hasn’t given up on selling it, but he doesn’t have a buyer at the time.
Shelley tells him that the girls have some news of their own: they have an endowment now, thanks to an anonymous donor.
He’s impressed; he never thought they could do it. He asks the amount of the check and Ms. Allardyce tells him about the shoeboxes.
Mr. Canby began to laugh. It started as a chortle, then progressed to a series of guffaws. When the tears were running down his cheeks, the girls joined in. It was hard to tell whether he was enjoying himself or was in terrible pain.
It seems he knows who donated the money, but he doesn’t let the girls know who it is.
Shelley’s figured it out, though. She tells Dana to call Chris and Faith to call Johnny. She’s going to call Tom and they’re going to visit the donor.
Tom’s already left for school, but Johnny and Chris show up for the girls. With Shelley directing him, Johnny drives them to a small log cabin in a rural area. Outside, splitting logs for firewood, is Mr. Sampton.
He’s surprised to see them but invites them in for coffee. Shelley explains what happened that morning and asks if he knows who could have donated the money. He says it wasn’t doing any good just sitting around. Unbelievably, no one had figured it out until he confessed. Even now, Johnny is still confused.
Mr. Sampton tells them the story of his family. His father struck gold in Alaska, and when he returned to Greenleaf he invested wisely. By 1928, he had amassed a fortune, but he lived so simply that no one knew. Something told him to pull his money out of the market by the end of 1928. Not trusting the banks, he hid the money in shoeboxes in his barn. He made his sons, Mr. Sampton and his brother, wall it in with brick and mortar. All eight million of it.
Mr. Sampton’s father died in 1947 and his mother a year later. He and his brother split the money. After giving Canby six shoeboxes, he has two left. He makes the kids promise not to say anything about them. After they agree, he says he as to get back to work.
Back at school, Chris and Dana agree that they want to get to know each other better. I don’t remember him turning into her boyfriend, so theirs must be a short-lived romance.
The girls are excited as they look around their campus. It’s all theirs, they get to stay, they get to be together, and they’re the first generation of Canby girls with an endowment.
The Cover: That’s some scarf and coat combo that Faith has going on. Why does Shelley look like she’s posing for a camera and looking straight at it? Are those the mustard yellow socks poking over the tops of Dana’s boots?