knees, petting parties, jazz and the hip flask--is undermining
American civilization. At least, that's what many fathers and
mothers believe who, while boasting that THEIR mothers knew how
and when to blush and what to blush at, yet admit they can not
control their children.
The Worst Part of It.
Flapperism, they believe, is an
art. It is a black art, practiced by both sexes, and, once practiced,
never laid down. That's the terrible thing about it.
There have always been, to be sure,
a few girls like the flappers and a few boys like the sheiks.
But, sooner or later, they outgrew it.
"Of course, we sowed our wild
oats! We drank a glass or two of beer, got sick on cigars, played
pool with the roughnecks and began dreaming about the girls.
By the time we got as far as the girl part, most of us usually
found wild oats weren't as wild as they were recommended to be,
so we quit them, found the proper girl and got married,"
a prominent doctor related.
"And, that was all there was
to it. No more wild oats for us then. We settled down for life,
began to think, and tried to amount to something.
"But, the flapper generation
never thinks," he went on. "All the sheiks and shebas
want is to be let alone. Their war cry is: 'Don't spoil the fun!'
and their battle song is: 'What'll We Do Tonight?' They can't
be still a minute and they don't care what they do or who finds
it out. If they stage a wild party and wake up next morning in
jail, their only regret is that they got caught and couldn't
stay to dance 'Home, Sweet Home.' And, after they're married,
it's the same thing over and over. Dance--Eat--Live--Chase Happiness!
Dance--Eat--Drink--BUT NEVER THINK!"
can not continue, a business man asserted, without American civilization
of the next generation suffering.
Susie's Snappy Repartee.
"The worst part is that they
don't care what people--their mothers and fathers and uncles
and aunts--think of them. They haven't any sense of shame, honor
or duty," he said. "It's nothing in their young lives
if they break the laws of the United States by drinking bootleg.
I was present recently when a friend of mine in a college town
rescued eight balloon-panted young blades from spending a night
in jail on charges of intoxication and disturbing the peace.
Well, they thanked my friend, but they did it with an air that
he needn't feel puffed up about helping them, because someone
else would have happened along, sooner or later."
Several mothers were discussing
the flapper generation at a club meeting recently.
just worried to death about Susie," one of them said. "She
goes to the most unheard-of places, and comes back smelling of
tobacco and vile liquor, and I can't make her see that she's
acting cheap and un-ladylike. I came downstairs at 12:20 the
other night, and there sat Susie in a young man's lap in the
living-room. He had his arm around her and was nonchalantly holding
a cigarette with his right hand. When I sent the boy home, what
do you suppose Susie said?"
Daily Doses of Discipline.
The other mothers couldn't guess.
"She said, 'Thanks, mother,
for getting that boob gone. He has such awfully bony knees!"
"And, what did you say?"
"Nothing, because she wouldn't
listen. I began, but she walked out of the room while I was still
of good, old-fashioned discipline is what restless youth needs,
according to another mother. If youth were denied more, made
to do without more and stay at home more, this mad and reckless
hunt for new thrills wouldn't take place, because the old and
less barbarous pleasures, indulged in at reasonable intervals,
still would hold charm. But, satiated with this and longing for
that, the heelless feet of youth march on.
Suggests a Flapper Colony.
"When father caught sister
and me carrying on an inadvertent correspondence with two boys
through a secret hollow tree, he didn't throw up his hands and
yell, 'I can't do anything with Amy and Anne!' He called us in,
told us that if the boys wanted to come up [to] the house to
see us, it was all right, but that his daughters couldn't carry
on a secret correspondence with any man on the face of the earth.
Of course, that spoiled the romance and fun for a while, but
when we thought it over, we knew he was right. The boys did,
too, and they took father at his word. I know, for I later married
one of them," and old-fashioned mother related. "And,
that's what I think these flappers and jelly beans and sheiks
need--discipline. If they won't listen to reason, lock them up;
that is, unless you begin too late. If you begin too late, even
locking them up won't do any good.
of a flapper colony was recommended by one Texas grandfather
who spent his youth playing the fiddle at dances.
Discovering a New Thrill.
"Sure, I danced!" he
laughed. "But, I didn't do any of this Charleston stuff--at
least, not the way these youngsters do it. We cut the pigeon's
wing and nigger-jigged. That is, the boys did. There wasn't a
boy in my crowd that would have gone with a girl who made a show
of herself the way these girls do now. Sa-ay, to you know what
ought to be done with them? They should all be deported to East
Africa, or some other heathen wilderness and made to live there
until they could get this kick out of their heels and the kinks
out of their heads. I wouldn't make it co-educational, either--I'd
put the boys up around the North Pole, and when they developed
sense and a proper reverence for womanhood, the could come home."
woman who had hitherto upheld the younger generation, upon the
belief that harm could not come from the mere overflowing of
exuberant spirits, retracted her belief when she came in from
an afternoon call and found her house overrun by youngsters who,
led by her 18-year-old son, were having the time of their lives
sliding down the banisters. They'd go up to the second landing
of the stairs, the boys would help the girls on, then get on
themselves, and away they'd go, singing, "Yes, Sir, That's
My Baby," as they slid. The son, when questioned as to the
origin of it, all said one of the boys had dared one of the girls
to slide down the banisters and it looked like such fun, they
had all followed, since they had nothing else to do.
They Are So Bold About It.
only they wouldn't be so defiant about it!" a woman who
grew up in Virginia, and who, after rearing three girls of her
own, is now getting gray hairs over her granddaughter, said.
"But, they don't care about anything except pleasure. The
girls are cheapening themselves and losing the respect of the
boys. The boys are concerned with nothing but hip flasks and
the newest jazz music.
Bound for a "Vulgar Party."
"In my day, if a boy had come
to a party drunk, he'd have been socially ostracized, and nearly
as much would have been done for a youth that bragged all the
time about how much he could drink, or about the cleverness of
his favorite bartender.
"And, this promiscuous kissing!
It's sickening and shameful. I can't drive down Main street without
meeting some young turtle-doves in a car, and about the time
our cars are passing, they kiss! Ugh! It embarrasses ME, but
not them; and, if I venture to look indignant, they LAUGH! They
ought to have their faces slapped."
of twin girls, who always insists on knowing where they girls
are bound when they leave the house, was horrified one night
to hear them say they were going to a "vulgar party."
By diligent questioning, she ascertained that a "vulgar
party" was a slumber party where the girls amused themselves
by telling risqué jokes into the wee hours of the night.
This Bare-Knees Business.
"And that," the mother
said in telling the story, "could never have happened thirty
years ago, when I was a girl! We had our fun, but it was clean
fun. No nice girl would have gone to such a party or have stayed
if risqué joke telling began after she got there."
All the same, it was only through
threatening to withhold their monthly allowances that the twins
were made to stay at home.
"Don't be a dud, mother,"
they told her. "What do you want to spoil the fun for?"
uncovering of knees, is, to some, one of the most regrettable
characteristics of the generation.
"These ballet skirts are exactly
in keeping with rouged faces and jazz--don't call it music, because
it isn't music. It's barbarity, and it breeds barbarism,"
a gentleman of the old school, who comes in contact daily with
present-day youth, believes.
"But, what do they want to
show their knees for! And, if they must show them, why do they
make them more noticeable by tugging at their skirts every time
they sit down? If girls wanted their dresses longer, they'd make
them longer so they wouldn't have to tug at them.
"Oh, they're sowing now, and
they are sowing together. But, they'll have to reap alone! And,
there's not much food value in wild oats. On a street car, recently,
two girls were discussing their dates of the night before in
such loud tones that everyone around them could hear. 'I'm not
going with that old fool any more,' one of them said. 'He wants
to kiss me all the time, and he slobbers so when he kisses! It
wasn't the kissing, you see, that she objected to!"
But, perhaps the words of a woman
who danced the Virginia reel in Kentucky in her girlhood best
sums up prevalent opinion.
"I want to spank every one
of them!" she said. "I want to take them out in the
woodshed and show them the hickory rod. I am still antique enough
to blush, and they make me blush with their irreverences and
scoffings and 'Damns!' and drinking. One wonders, looking at
them, if man has progressed very far from the monkey after all.
For these present-day girls have about as much modesty, manners
and good sense as a monkey. And, the boys have less, so there
I am, let me say. An average American girl who has her fair share
of health, pep and the other youthful qualities--for better or
for worse--that make us youngsters just what we are.
"Give a Dog a Bad Name."
I am just nineteen, but I know
plenty to make me feel very keenly the sting of the blow when
I get slapped in the face. Or, the heat of fierce resentment
when my pals get slapped. That's elemental.
This free-for-all discussion of
"glaring faults and shocking sins" charged so blithely
to the young people of today surely entitles one of the defendants
to enter a paper into the debate. In retaliation, mind you, not
defense, primarily. Explanation, perhaps, but defense--no! We
don't look at it that way.
For our defense, if any, should
come from our parents. Often it does, and I'll say that a parent
who really stands up and defends the young is a genuine gold-brick.
Usually, the reason they do so, is because they are such good
sports and are able to view things from different sides and various
angles; furthermore, they are fair.
Now, in this continual fencing,
the past generation has not spared us any. They have misinterpreted,
twisted and contorted most innocent deeds, light spoken words,
healthy pastimes. They have accused us of doing things we had
not thought of doing until they mentioned it. And, having so
been accused, it gave us an idea. Sometimes, we carried it out.
And, oh, the row that broke at this newest deviltry of the "younger
all, it was almost as if it were something to be expected of
us, and as such, it had to be done. Quite as if we had a certain
sort of reputation to maintain and live up to.
Some Fire in the Smoke.
We didn't particularly gain it
ourselves. Most of it was wished on us. It came in much smoking
by that kind of people who always are thinking and shouting that
the world is coming to an end. To the public at large, it broadcast
via ear, telephone, radio and press the startling story of one
boy or one girl who were conceded to be abnormal. An opinion
was formed judging the many by the few before everyone got through
with it. Then, the next step was to say that there was but one
difference generally with the whole generation; those certain
ones had been actually caught, red-handed as it were.
So began the propaganda of "your
children are deceiving you, parents," that has swept the
right off the bat that I make no bones about anything. I hide
or slur over nothing. No doubt but that we youngsters do things
that lay us liable to criticism, severe at that. Often, likewise,
we fully deserve censure, and few know it better than we. But,
it is so utterly appalling the way it is heaped up, and the bitter
way it is given, at that.
Everyone Gets Wrought Up.
It is only natural to be resentful
to such unwanted criticism, and the unfairness of it brings every
instinct into full array to the fight. For, if there is any one
thing that is a glory to youth, as it stands the United States
over today, it is our clean sportsmanship. Be fair!
"What are we going to do with
Johnny? Or, Mary? They just won't listen to a thing we tell them.
They just go right ahead. And, they won't tell us a thing about
ANYTHING!" That last is usually more of a woeful wail. And,
on the other side of the scales, you hear something like this,
"But, mother--I'm not a baby any longer---."
speaking, there is much tearing of hair, and wracking of brains,
where there are any. And, half the time, the situation, if looked
on sensibly, is so funny, that the only way to relieve a tickling
sense of humor, is to just naturally snicker a good rousing "horse
Everything Still O. K.
Well, everyone gets terribly wrought
up over it all.
But, the fond mammas and papas
of this generation aren't by themselves, by a long shot.
Reference: When Rome, the great,
and Rome, the glorious, as history states, was in full swing,
the olden philosophers were wont to shake their heads over the
young folk and wonder what the world was coming to. "O tempora!
O mores!" was then the cry.
to relate, that very identical world is still going in full blast
on all four wheels, although between there and here, it has picked
up the gift of a full-cylindered engine to speed it up somewhat
to keep up with the advance of the brain-laden people who swarm
its surface. And, it has, also, bright prospects for a future!
We Have to Be Speedy.
You know, if you elders are not
too terribly strait-laced about being fair and square and just,
you will doubtless be able to dig up out of your youthful memories,
certain facts--which need not necessarily be accredited you,
personally, if you are too shy--which, if given an equal proportion
of publicity, would indeed modify and normalize the statistics
nowadays about the things we do, and don't do.
toot is that we are too fast. We have to be. Having attained
age in a period where the innumerable one-thing-or-other our
elders have invented to induce speed are commonplace, it's a
wonder that we don't go faster. There is only one reason why
we don't do just that. We can't And, that is the identical reason
mammas and daddys , when they were belles and dandies, didn't
go any faster, when they were out gallivanting around the countryside
or town square to show off the newest cravat or dress as they
sat in their snappy buggy with all the shining lamps. Which,
I'll bet they dimmed at night! Old Dobbin just wouldn't --that
is, couldn't--go a bit faster. They would have like to, oh yes!
Ever watch papa's pride in a new car?
know, I've heard any number of elders say that so many of their
now quite staid contemporaries, who occupy important positions
in the various fields of world activity, were dreadfully reckless
in their young days.
The Drinking Situation.
Automobiles, instead of horses,
and there are you are.
That is the fastest as interpreted
Parents appear to be shocked by
some of the dancing, smoking and drinking of today's youth. Now,
few have mentioned that these wild younger sets are but following
in the footsteps of the wild older sets. One of the primary instincts
of youth is to "ape" those older. Therefore, why is
it not up to those older to watch their high stepping? They may
think that they are getting by with it and not being seen by
us, but that is just where they are dead wrong.
the drinking situation as it stands nationally, the poor dear
has been so lightened and enlivened by jokes and scoffings, that
it is natural that we should regard it rather flippantly. So,
why are we to be barred when daddy and his cronies have their
flask? On account of our youth, extreme or otherwise? Pooh! To
say the least, we can "carry" it better.
Consequently, youth has taken to
a little drink from a hip flask, too; all just to be smart, and
up with the times. That's all they do it for. The kick was more
in the doing, not in the actual stuff. We don't know enough about
the latter to really judge. It is the sport, the thrill.
That for that.
You see, it isn't quite as if papas,
when they were young, didn't drink when they grew to that point
in their development into "gentlemen" as the word was
then termed. They did. Why, drinking now is a pink tea compared
to what it was then.
is one scrap of evidence that has been skipped in the scramble.
Granny's pipe. From the men's corner came the hue and cry that
we had smoked them out of their rights. Who gave those rights
to them, I'd like to know? Lots of smoke can sure be set up over
mightily little fire.
Now, for our much bewailed dancing.
"Vulgar, common and intimate" Some of it is. But, for
the most part, it is the thing it has always been, something
to let off "steam." The exuberance that is varyingly
called pep, liveliness, red-hotness and snap, is just the same
thing that is called "hot air" in elder persons. The
youngsters let it off mostly in action, the elders in talking.
The former in building forward, the latter in tearing back.
the stylish dances and fad dances in grandparents' time just
as much as today. And, back-tracking still further, I know from
reading, that it was positively scandalous and a signal for smelling
salts to be brought when the first man placed his arm around
a lady's er--waist, to guide her in the first waltzes.
Merely in New Clothes.
Then, there is the old gag about
jazz. Now, I can't think of a thing that is more suited to youth
than jazz. I mean, the pure syncopated melody that has climbed
from the elemental jazz and has come to win a lasting place in
American music. It is so essentially expressive of the very essence
of youth. In one word, life!
It is the voice of youth lifted
up in all of its provocating "What the what do I care?"
Why don't you leave, there ain't no more?" Sophisticated,
syncopated, accelerated, animated, "Hail, Hail, the Gang's
Modernism! To the 'nth degree.
in for a moment, here, on a good sport form the elders' camp;
who let down the bars of communication on mutual ground.
Memories of the Past.
"What is that new dance you
are doing, Mary?"
"Why, that's the Charleston,
mother." And, Mary hums some more of "Charleston, Back
to Charleston" and demonstrates.
Mother just watches, but closely.
"Why, my goodness!" she
exclaims suddenly, as a light broke over her face. "When
I was young, it was called 'cutting the back-step.' And Martha,
my girl friend, who was such a cut-up, used to get out at parties
and dances and do it for us, and we all thought it great fun.
Of course, she, and we, too, for that matter, ought to have been
ashamed of ourselves. We were all just a bunch of cut-ups, and
Martha was the ringleader, I guess.
then, another time," she continued, in full reminiscent
swing, while we stood to get every grain of this inside dope,
"we were over to a girl's house for a big house party she
was giving. There must have been about six couples. When we girls
got ready to go to bed, we all went into Mag's room first to
talk some more, and to undress together there. Then, all of a
sudden, one of the girls discovered that the room we were in
was just over the one in which the boys had gathered. You see,
there was a flue down into the room below, and one of the girls"--here
we choked a gasp and she smiled back down as the mental picture
she, the envied one, had of the actual happenings--"stuck
her foot down into the room below, and had all the boys guessing
then and the next day, whose foot it had been."
Youth Is Always Youth.
Boy, she laughed! So did we.
"Why, she didn't, or any of
us, have any idea of meaning a bit of harm. We just thought it
would be a good way to pique the boys. And, it sure worked!"
ye hearties. Youth is the very devil for mischief. Always has
been. The immortal story of the cherry tree and its felling by
one G. Washington may be cited in the cause. Chopping off the
oft-quoted moral end of the matter, and then starting at the
beginning again, it might easily be made to go like this. And,
the more you think of it, the more vivid it is. The little boy
with the new hatchet yielded to the impulse to try its sharpness
on the cherry tree before him, though he undoubtedly had an uneasy
notion that he should not think of such a thing. But--down went
the tree, anyway, and more history was made.
The World Moves.
Question: did he know he was already
found out as guilty by his questioning father when he refused
to deny any of it?
Dealing in generalities, here is
another "straight" story about certain characters from
a page of our elders' young days.
"There was a boy that was
just crazy about my chum. On her birthday, he wanted to make
a good impression on her, and he brought her a beautiful pair
of earrings. Well, one night, about a month later, she was waked
up in the middle of the night. It was the boy. And, he had been
forced to come and get the earrings for the man he had bought
them from on credit, or he would have been put in jail. So, he
had to ask her for them. And, that surely did make an impression
on her, all right."
Indeed, this was a choice marvel
for my listening ears.
So, youth, today and yesterday,
is synonymous with hairbreadth and side-splitting escapades.
Life and activity are craved by youth. The cup is full, and youth
demands a full draught, since it is the coloring of the wine
of youth, to be quaffed lightly, gaily, merrily.
Today is tomorrow, and tomorrow
tomorrow. Let tomorrow take care of itself.
keynote of our so-called "flaming youth" is freedom.
Glorious freedom. Worthy a fight! Modern freedom began to get
its first growth about the time of the beginning of this very
Have Times Changed?
And, this is the day of progress.
We're just swimming abreast of
the times. Sometimes, we have had to go ahead to escape the deluge
of an especially huge wave that threatens to swamp us. Get the
drift of that?
And, some allowance must always
be made for the harpies who harp and harp and harp. If you want
a picture of them, go to Virgil's Aeneid, and if you can't read
the original, get a good "pony."
Throw them a crumb and there they
"Unheard of!" they screech.
That is the cause of all the row.
Sometimes I stop, after having heard of some of my own doings,
and those of my best pals, picked to pieces, and wonder why we
aren't worse than we are, with everyone predicting that if we
haven't already gone to the devil, that we are sure headed that
have changed, I might say. Certainly, you answer.
Youth's Eternal "Why?"
You elders have changed them, I
fire back, from what they were at the time of your youth, and
have, with your progresses and your businesses, made them just
exactly what they are today.
You chaffed at the rein your fathers
held, now we are chaffing.
Perhaps the foundation--if
there is any--of all the controversy is that we know too much.
That, on first glance, seems supreme egotism. But, we are fundamentally
frank. Freedom--this freedom--of thought, and of action, means
frankness of knowledge. The one is the product of the other.
undeniable fact still remains that we do know twice as much about
things in general, from evolution to airplanes. Byron is Arlen,
than father and mother did "in their day." Youth's
eternal "Why?" that finds its first chirpings when
yet in the cradle, is no longer best quashed into silence and
furtive wonderings and sly truth-seekings. Youth, a generation
ago, knew a darned sight more than they let on. The only difference
is that we come right out and say we know it.
No Fair Play.
The direct result is sophistication,
which is a bright-colored coat for a drabber-colored garment
of disillusionment and cynicism beneath.
how can we possibly be expected to respect, utterly and blindly,
our elders, when we know so much "on them"? We see,
or know of, their doing things, which, when we take them for
examples and do our darndest to live up to, prove themselves
not so good when we get it in the neck for doing them. Meanwhile,
the models retire from the war ground in a cloak of dignity that
makes them invulnerable to any "comeback" we have.
Youth Is All Right.
They are shielded by their contemporaries.
Given the hail-fellow-well-met. And, it is let go at that. "Oh,
well, he needs a bit of life."
But, when we go and do likewise,
biff, bamm! "what is the younger generation coming to?"
Writers have capitalized us and
our caricatured beings are scattered everywhere. More harpies.
portraits are taken as representative. We gave everyone a good
show for their gossip-bag and laughed on the way.
- July 11, 1926, Dallas
Morning News, Section VII, pp. 5, 6.
Take youth, all in all, as it stands,
flappers and jelly-boys, chorus girls and jazz hounds, dance
and slang words, short skirts and Oxford bags, and you will take
From the dimly established lines
of youth's camp, here is one who not only says, but declares
to the world, cynical and petty thing that it is, that youth
is all right; that youth's ways are all and more than might be
expected, that half of the evil is press agents' blah, that the
insolence of youth is our inherited birthright, that freedom
is bred into our very bone, that youth will stand the final test
and emerge on top, that youth will run to a close, the gauntlet
it is on now, between the lines of haggling criticism and unjust
condemnation, and that the world will continue whether it is
papa or son who takes a swallow out of the hip flask on the way
to the country club for poker or bridge, or on the way to the
scene of the latest party; whether it is mother or daughter who
puffs her cigarette; lastly, that youth is taking everything
into deeper consideration than anyone has yet given it, and taking
the sour old world by the heels and shaking it to see if it is
holding anything out. IT.
world is our heritage,
and take it from us.
try and stop us.
- o o o -