"This younger generation gripes me," griped Mr. Richard Chapman from an almost supine position in the Morris chair. "A fella ast my cousin to go to the picture show, 'n' nen told her to bring 'er own money, 'n' enough for a soda besides. Cripe!" The arm-chair philosopher on the front porch agreed that that was a "lousy" way to treat a girl. "Just how old is this 'younger generation'?" queried the ubiquitous and tiresome adult, who had appeared at the front door, to call her own young philosopher to do some menial errand. "Ya mean my cousin? Thirteen." "And how do you classify your generation?" meaning 16-year-old Dick, Clare, Bill, Charlie, same age, and Gordon, one year younger. "Oh, we're the middle generation." The middle generation felt the weight of the world - or at least its problems - on their young shoulders. Eisenhower's doing all right, but the arm-chair strategists could show him how to close in for the kill. And the peace? Why, that's simple. Let the United States settle everything, advised Dick. Our government should award medals to young civilians, who possess such faith and loyalty, "above and beyond" the call of ordinary citizenship. Dick, the 'millionaire' of the group, lives directly across the street from our house. Tall, round-shouldered, with the fine features of a twelve-year-old, he drives his own car. I was sure he was going to ruin Charlie, who saw no reason why he couldn't have a car, too, if he earned the money for it. (That talk has died down, thank goodness). Bill is downright handsome, and carried himself like a soldier. When he and Charlie parry with words, some fellow on the sidelines announces, "The battle of the wits!" "Nitwits," corrects Gordon.
Gordon is new to us Taylors - but well-known from previous residents here. Small, sandy-haired, he is the youngest of the bunch, the quietest, the smartest. Clare is the one who shows the best home training. Stocky, brown-eyed, his brown hair growing out like bristles from a G.I. haircut, there is something so fine and steady and reliable about Clare. "A solid citizen," I captioned him to the group one day. "Yeah, he's solid, all right - from the neck up," jeered Bill. The 16-year-olds are just beginning to think about the girls. Being a bit fearful of girls, nothing less than a triple date will do. They have managed one so far. Maybe letter-writing would be easier. So they have taken up that long-lost art. A girl can certainly be an inspiration. When our young son went to Saltsburg this summer, Estelle charged him to write and let us know of his safe arrival. In due time a card came. "Dear Mom, arrived, Chuck." But he met a pretty and sweet girl down there, who inspired him to write, "It is time all good little boys were in bed, but I am not in the aforementioned category" - and pages more. (He read the above sentence to me. I did not snitch.)
Whether the "gang" be playing ping-pong behind the garage, guzzling "pepsies" on the back porch, listening in varying degrees of enthusiasm or boredom to Charlie's records, or eating a snack in the kitchen after school, I have come to the conclusion that, of all ages of men - beyond kindergarten age - the sweetest and most profoundly enjoyable is sixteen.
Yours for more of the 'middle' generation,
Florence B. Taylor
P.S. Just a word about Florence Getty Weamer. Her obituary, though revealing an active and useful life, did not bring out the graciousness of her personality. There was an unfailing friendliness about her. She moved in the best circles, yet knew no class distinction. Unselfish, interested in other people, she brought out the best in her friends and in her casual acquaintances. Saltsburg does mourn her untimely death, and will greatly miss one of her most beloved citizens.
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