GENERAL ARTICLES

Youth, '38 Model

There’s nothing much wrong with our young folks

MARJORY WILLISON May 1 1938
GENERAL ARTICLES

Youth, '38 Model

There’s nothing much wrong with our young folks

MARJORY WILLISON May 1 1938

Youth, '38 Model

There’s nothing much wrong with our young folks

MARJORY WILLISON

WILFRED (Bill) Jones and his son George are in conference.

Bill would give a great deal to be sure of what George is thinking, and especially how George is feeling. As well as he can. Bill carries on in the part of the father who is a good sport. George says “Yes, sir,” at intervals when necessary.

Bill talks, gabbles, laughs, cracks jokes. He is a little nervous. Most of his stories start off with “When I was your age ...” Then he reflects that probably it was a mistake to say, “When I was your age.”

Dash it all ! Bill can make money, can make friends with anybody except his own son. He is boss of the office, a successful businessman, popular socially. Everybody likes him except perhaps his own son? Why doesn't the boy open up? Why doesn’t he talk?

Bill has just asked George what he wants to do now that he is seventeen. Good gracious! Seventeen! What does George want to do?

George doesn’t know. But he isn’t going to commit himself to any such statement.

Truth Comes First

WHEN Father Bill Jones goes out to lunch, he will pass the windows of a large store. He will probably walk by without realizing that in them is i\ clue to his son’s attitude toward life.

Have you noticed the ladies and gentlemen in the shop windows? The “figures”? They're lifeless in a way. But so fashionable. So smart. So aloof. They ignore the public whose nose is pressed against the plate glass.

When I was young, these ladies and gentlemen, frightfully unconvincing then, it is true, were beautiful to contemplate. Especially the ladies, who were statuesquestatic if you prefer the modern word. Today they are ugly and active. They practically jump out of the windows for advertising purposes. These effigies frown and grimace. They are slabs, not figures. Their complexions are highly colored; only a volcanic eruption could rival such ghastly hues.

Are they effective, these dummies, judeys, whatever you call them? Apparently, the answer is yes.

Advertising effectiveness is not the point, however. Listen, Billy, father of George: listen. Claire, devoted mother of George; listen, all other fathers and mothers. The world we live in, this new world belonging to George’s generation, prefers ugliness, if you want to call it that; wants action, the more frantic the better; can’t tolerate the statuesque, dotes on weird color, undreamed-of shades of ochre, purple, magenta, undreamed of till yesterday. An absurd conclusion, of course. But still . .

What George’s generation really prefers is truth. Truth

even in dummies and judeys; truth in everything. Honesty. Frankness. Truth. Truth. These young people, most of them a little older than George, are desperately determined not to be deceived about Life. They believe that the whole world, and all past history, are in a conspiracy to conceal Truth from the young.

So much for shop windows and the coming generation. But hold this thought: Honesty. Frankness. Truth. Ugliness rather than a lie, even if the young beholder is devastated by it. Still, George’s father and mother must not take even this thought too seriously.

Is the family drifting? When fathers—and mothers— congregate by themselves, as they do at times, they seem depressed about their eighteenand nineteen-year-old children. The senior generation says this is not the way they were brought up. They had to behave. Quite so, but how did they feel about behaving? What was their underneath, unexpressed feeling about “behaving”? Rather rebellious, wasn't it? They weren’t allowed to answerback. They went to bed early. They had to learn their lessons. They were respectful. Mighty little of this skiing, flying, motoring, sw ing, going to the pictures, listening to the radio !

A Different World

THE radio. Pictures. Motoring. Flying. Come to think of it, this is a different world from the world in which George’s parents used to live. Yet you expect sons and daughters to turn time back and perform miracles; expect them to be young in the same way that you were young at the beginning of the century. These splendid, youthfully middle-aged people who are managing the world today will have to make a tremendous effort of the imagination. How did you feel when you were young as your boys and girls are young today? How would you feel today if you were a boy or a girl in a world which seems to be reeling and rocketing ceaselessly, without any apparent intention of ever again returning to rest and peace?

Think of art today; not all art, but a lot of it. Does it show rest or peace? An enigma, a frantic question, unanswered. Think of |x>etry. Secret meanings concealed from all but the initiate. In some cases, the poet himself may understand, no one else. All modern poetry? Not all. Yet the dominant note is agonized, secret. Painted and written for your young people? Certainly. This is their day. their generation.

Such appearances possibly may be, in reality, illusions. Is it the same world, disguised by a dream? The same boys and girls underneath, hidden by paint, tinted hair, and the roar of some lately invented machine?

What d(xs Bill Jones say? What are the conclusions of these other fathers when they congregate? Their children up till all hours don’t know where they arelanguage — drink -extravagance—folly—can't tell what they mean

half the time—clothes—girls—boys—enough to make your hair stand on end.

Are your sons and daughters lovable? Are they brave? Are they good companions when you don’t nag at them? Are they interested in worth-while doings such as invention, discovery, a good game, learning how to do things by themselves and for themselves?

Oh, yes. George lovable ! He is a splendid fellow. Sylvia, Marie, Jane, each one, and so on accordingly till the end of time, is the dearest, sweetest darling in the world. They may seem a little—the merest trifle—foolish now and then. But you should see George ski! You should count Marie’s beaus! These girls who were debutantes last year are determined to go to work this year, get their own jobs, pay for their own clothes. Why not?

Then, when one thinks of the other boys and girls, not yours, perhaps, but the boys and girls of the majority— the majority, remember, who go to work at fourteen, fifteen, sixteen; boys who deliver papers; eldest girls whose mothers are ill, perhaps gone—who bake, scrub, help to bring up the family. Nothing to worry about excessively in this generation of working boys and girls, brave, affectionate, on the job.

If the world has been turned upside down for older people, has not the same catastrophe-—or adventure—happened to youth? If we are in uncertainty, some vibrations of doubt may visit them. Don’t ask George too often what he wants to do. You didn’t know either when you were his age.

Finest Parents in History

YOU MAY have had the g;x>d fortune to be invited to visit the nursery of Bill Jones’ eldest daughter, Christine. Mrs. Felix Worthington, whose first baby, now two years old, is called Jane Claire, after both grandmothers. Christine before her marriage was reported to be a swift young woman, even dangerous. Jane Claire’s bringing up is sane, affectionate and rigorous. Christine’s maternal eye turned on Jane, in solemn guiding, makes the elderly visitor blink with astonishment.

I believe that the generation to which George’s sister Christine belongs is producing the finest brand of young fathers and mothers known in history. Such earnestness, scientific care and thoroughness. Such tranquillity, such unselfishness, surrounds young Billys, young Jane Claires, and all the other babies of whom you have any accurate knowledge. As for the babies themselves—simply the most delightful objects in the world's history.

We have lived through --no, we live in, without knowing whether there is any "through” or not—a world revolution so vast that it seems as if it must in reality be nine or ten revolutions. We expect changes, do we not? All up and down the whole series of domestic and social relations?

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Youth, '38 Model

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Do we perceive dimly any alteration in the relations between parents and children? C hildren. of course, still depend on |»rents. Jane Claire depends on Christine and Felix absolutely. George, aged seventeen, probably has no confidant except, in bashful moments when something really iml»rtant has happened. his mother. But everyone except Bill himself knows that when Bill nearly died of double pneumonia his son George suffered in anguish, an anguish of exixrience which none of us can avoid.

Any alteration? Yes. These half-grown young men and women called boys and girls are showing a tendency to take care of their {»rents. Is not this precisely the revolution that we might have expected in domestic relations? The dominant parent «hows more than signs of disappearing. The solicitous child takes his and her place.

I saw the other day a most gorgeous young person, large blue eyes outlined with kohl shadows, long glittering scarlet fingernails. brilliant lipstick mouth, hair of shining gold for the time being, attired in skiing garments. She was fondling her dad. The girl’s appearance would have caused even grandmother to lose her temper. But as the young person laid her cheek against his thinning hair—no special sign of age, only the usual thinning hair of robust middle age she murmured, “Darling, you won’t smoke any more tonight, will you? You will take aire of yourself?”

A made-up story? Not at all.

No, there is nothing much wrong with hectic modern youth.

One reasonable view is, an older generation needs to consist of pretty fine people before it can deserve its children. Let them have a chance to see what happy marriage is.