5 journalers for this copy...
The book is mostly a collection of columns, with some explanation and background from Makow, whose writing style is pleasantly glib - hints of Dennis the Menace tempered by what seems to be a pretty good awareness of human nature. His attitudes are definitely of his time in many respects, especially regarding physical punishment - he thinks that a well-timed spanking can be very efficacious (though, to do him justice, he does come down very much against excessive punishment of any kind, pointing out that beatings don't work very well if they're handed out for no good reason!), and his views about the proper roles of boys and girls are definitely pre-women's-lib. [Sadly, I gather from some web-surfing that his views in that area have not changed...] But much of the advice is right on point and is often quite amusing. This bit about a kid making prank phone calls gives the general idea:
Dear Henry: My son loves to phone up people. He will, for example, call up a bakery and ask if they have hot rolls. When the reply is "yes" he would say: "I hope you will sell them," and he hangs up. What do you think of this? Amused and AngryI'm not a fan of prank calls, but I had to laugh at Henry's take on them! Then there's the classic one:
Dear Amused and Angry: I think it is a lot of fun. It's a good exercise in public speaking. It will only bother grumpy people but it will amuse good sports. But I wouldn't say everybody should start doing it.
Dear Henry: today my mom spanked me for nothing. Is that fair? SoreOne of the more blatantly out-dated passages could be read as sarcastic humor, but I suspect that Henry was quite sincere at the time:
Dear Sore: It depends how much nothing you did.
Should boys, the superior sex, learn to do a girl's job around the house? Many a time my mother goes shopping for an hour and it turns out three hours. I got hungry and learned to cook the fundamentals. It may also come in handy in case you run into one of those girls who didn't learn her trade.Ahem. Took a little while to unclench my teeth about that section, even allowing for youth and an early '60s viewpoint. Hopefully modern readers will find it amusingly archaic...
Some of Henry's advice surprised me very pleasantly, though, such as this:
Dear Henry: Which is a better child: One who obeys at once or one who likes to argue it out? UndecidedWhile Henry's aim in making that response may have been to get himself off the hook for sassing his parents, I do think he made a very good point there. But I do wish I hadn't found those web references to his more recent writings, as I'd have preferred imagining that this bright and funny little kid eventually figured out that cooking and sewing are not every woman's "trade"!
Dear Undecided: The one who argues it out is the better. A kid who obeys on first command every time is no better than a trained dog. The kid who argues it out shows that he will fight for what he thinks is right.
How do you think we got a free country? In the olden days if everyone had strict parents, we would still belong to the British.... I know some kids who have strict parents; they are perfect children. But I could boss those kids around easily 'cause they are used to taking orders.
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Participants, in mailing order:
kiptrix [South Carolina]
I'll be mailing this out to Megi53 in the beginning of the week. Thanks, Gory, I enjoyed this change of pace.
The cartoons are great, and the advice looks wise, too. I didn't see anything concerning kids over about the age of 13 (I'd love to see the definitive answer to: "Should I loan my car to my teenage son just to save $200 in airport parking fees?") but I'm sure I can find plenty of useful tips to apply at school with my 10-to-15-year-old students.
There was a 16-year-old hanging around with "black leather jacket" boys (page 130). Henry engagingly admitted he was too young to properly advise, so an American school counselor wrote in recommending the guy join a lumber camp, a farm, or one of the armed services.
The most poignant and mature exchange was at the end of Chapter 13, "Bedee-bye time", describing a father who "sleeps his life away". (Henry astutely suggested visiting a doctor.)
Other old-fashioned heartwarmers included Henry's P.S. which began "This world is very interesting and beautiful. God made it beautiful and people made it interesting."; (is this grammatical or what?) and Chapter 6's title, "Days to look forward to".
Two exceptionally hilarious segments were the summer vacation canoe fight (complete with illustration) and the letter from a girl complaining about Henry himself! (see pages 150-1) His answer: "...it just happens that I know this boy and I will get him to stop."
Thanks for sharing the fun and the wisdom. I have Bluestocking88's address and will be mailing the book to her later this morning.
ETA: Had to mail priority due to postcards (I added one!), bookmark, and weight.
I'm sending it off to KiwiinEngland in the next few days.
Thanks bluestocking88 for passing this one.
Posted on 23rd November to Australia - printed paper class, so will be interesting to see the speed of the delivery.
Sorry about that - the ring has stalled.