Saturday, January 12, 2013

Parents, Guns, Bicycles in 1938

From a series of interview extracts described as "parental problems" from the Library of Congress American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. The collection is described as follows: "These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940." The materials are presented with images of the typed interviews as well as searchable full text.
My son, now a boy of seventeen years of age, had his heart set upon a gun. He implored us to give him a gun as a birthday present. We, being rather 'modern' and against lethal firearms as a means of developing youngsters, were opposed to giving him a gun and at last persuaded him that a bicycle were a better present-even though it cost us more. But our neighbor's case was different. Their son, a chum of our boy, wanted a bicycle. The mother, however, remembering a bad accident that once happened to someone she knew was in fear of a bicycle but had no objection to a gun. So their boy, wanting a bicycle, got a gun. Our's, wanting a gun, got a bicycle. Both boys, as things turned out, were quite pleased, for by exchanging their gifts each had, frequently enough, the present he at first desired. And we, baffled parents, had no alternative but to philosophise upon the irony of things.

Parental problems - gun or bicycle for the teenager?
The typed page from which the above text was taken

The document makes clear that the person interviewed was in New York City and that the interview was done in August of 1938. Presumably the name of the "worker" is that of the writer, not the interviewee.

STATE New York
ADDRESS 51 Bank St. N.Y. City
DATE August 26, 1938

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