Harmon’s Histories: Century ago, columnist bemoaned footloose children
(Missoula Current) Today’s parents are irresponsible and indifferent about the raising of their children!
And it is that indifference which has caused the children to drift from parental influence into “the modern maelstrom of pleasure.”
“Parents are no longer like generals, drilling and training their young recruits,” and the home has lost its place as the foundation of morals and ethics.
Hear, hear! Jolly well stated!
It’s about time someone remarked on the sad state of affairs these days!
Well, not really.
The quotes are from American columnist Mrs. V. Janet Heckman, published across the country (including Missoula’s newspaper) 100 years ago this month.
Mrs. Heckman declared it was time to “bring back the old-fashioned living room table,” as well as the front porch swing. But why stop there?
She also advocated “taking out the one-horse shay.” And don’t get her started on the evils of the automobile!
“The automobile, one of the greatest and most useful of our modern inventions, yet highly destructive to our youth, has robbed the home of its former charm. It has led them into places of amusement unthought or unheard of before, and divided the interests of the family.”
In fact, she argued, “the passing of the living room table in so many of our modern homes is the reason for so many delinquencies in the boy and girl of today.”
In an adjacent column was an apt article about a couple of men named Peterson and Nickle. The pair was arrested for drunkenness and jailed for the weekend, awaiting an appearance before a judge on Monday.
Perhaps – if they’d only spent more time at the family table – discussing morals and ethics ...
Anyway, continued Mrs. Heckman, “No longer do we have the home-like picture of the father on one side of the table, the mother on the other, with their sons and daughters grouped about reading from constructive books, (then) discussing, exchanging and weighing thoughts and passing judgment upon their values.”
So yes, said she, what we need is the re-establishment of a substantial reading table in every home.
Upon that table should be spread a selection of “broadening literature for the child (with) the parent and the child growing in constructive thought together.”
The parents should also introduce “the study and practice of good music.”
That done, declared our advisor, “we will hear less of juvenile delinquencies.”
Jim Harmon is a longtime Missoula news broadcaster, now retired, who writes a weekly history column for Missoula Current. You can contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. His best-selling book, “The Sneakin’est Man That Ever Was,” a collection of 46 vignettes of Western Montana history, is available at harmonshistories.com.