Monday, July 2, 2012

Suburbia's Coddled Kids

1962, possibly first edition, from Doubleday
Peter Wyden
Illustrated by Frank B. Modell
Suburbia's Coddled Kids
Original price $3.50, purchase price unknown
Worn hardcover

As an early example of criticism of the Baby Boomers, and of course suburbia, this is of some historical interest, although it's not very good journalism.  In fact, partly I think due to Modell's cartoons, it shows up as "humor" on the Google search.  Wyden sometimes doesn't cite his sources, and the book is as full of vague anecdotes ("a mother of two preteens") as Paar's autobiography, although there are cases where he's more specific.  Some of his conclusions are unsupported, and even he admits he's unsure of what will eventually happen to these "coddled kids."  The book is very dated-- Sixth-graders having school dances???  Horrors!-- and sexist.  "What about all the housewives who wear pants, perform rugged chores around the house, and call themselves Billy or Sydney?  What notions about femininity will a little girl glean from a mother who acts much of the time in a bi-sexual capacity?"

All that said, Wyden does have a point that that generation, or at least the more privileged parts of it (in cities as well as the 'burbs), was growing up differently than past generations.  He was wrong that they would always be so over-scheduled that there would be no time for "navel-gazing."  Within five years, some of them would revolt against "the junior rat race" and suburban conformity.

As for Wyden's two sons?  Well, one of them grew up to be a liberal senator.

With only 50 years to go, I've finished another bookshelf, but things will be slowing down shortly, as I've got roughly four bookcases after this one.

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