Words for teenagers meme

Eclipse Now

There’s this Facebook meme doing the rounds called “Word’s for teenagers”. At first I thought it had some good points. Sure it’s a Judge having a rant, so I made some allowances for it being a little intolerant. Especially of youth. Especially as he has to convict them all the time. Then I thought about it some more. Now, while we ALL know some teenagers that probably need this rant (below) tatooed onto their foreheads, I’m still troubled by it. Disturbed in fact.

Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth…..”Always we hear the cry from teenagers ‘What can we do, where can we go?’…My answer is, “Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town…

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One thought on “Words for teenagers meme

  1. waltbx says:

    Such a good blog. Thanks for your energy and commitment.

    I trust that you will share with me a willingness to correct a firestorm of injustice. My mother was the author of “Letter to a Teenager” incorrectly attributed to Judge Philip Gilliam, a good man, who has acknowledge he wasn’t the author and “never pretended to be.” It is so unfair to my mother, who has since passed. My sisters and I would be deeply grateful if she would receive the recognition she deserved.

    The letter was written in response to a near riot after a football game in 1955. The teens involved said they “had nothing to do, nowhere to go.”

    I have substantial documentation.

    I have copies of two letters, one from The Reader’s Digest of September 15, 1958 and the second from Abigail Van Buren dated January 16, 1978 acknowledging her authorship. I would post copies if I knew how.

    Abby says in the letter “Dear Doris: You, dear, modest, generous lady. I am returning all the documentation per your request. As I recall, a judge in Denver, Judge Gilliam (or something like that) took credit for the letter you wrote. And several others had the nerve to claim authorship.”

    The Reader’s Digest letter says, in part: “We were delighted to have your letter and to learn that you are the author of ‘letter to a Teen-Ager,’ which we reprinted in our August [1958] issue. Our payment check for $80.00 is enclosed… You may be interested to know that since your letter appeared in the Digest it has received even wider circulation, for we are now receiving reprints from all over the country.”

    In her correction piece, Inez Robb, whose syndicated column appeared in 140 papers, wrote: “Since about 50 per cent of my correspondents attributed the letter to Philip B Gilliam, the widely-know judge of Denver’s Juvenile Court. I telephoned to ask him when he had first written it.
    ” ‘But I am not the author, I didn’t originate it,’ Judge Gilliam said. “I don’t know who wrote it. As best I can remember, I received an anonymous letter from an irate parent seven or eight years ago. He or she laid down the platform that has since become known as ‘Letter To A Teen-ager.’ ”
    ” ‘A few months after I received it I was speaking at Boys’ Ranch in Amarillo, Texas,’ Judge Gilliam continued. ‘I used the advice in the talk and the Boys’ Ranch publication reprinted it, and credited it to me.”
    Well, if Judge Gilliam is not the author of “Letter To A Teen-ager,” who is?
    Stop the press! The mailman has just delivered a delightful letter from Mrs. Doris Burvill (sic.) of Hibbing, Minn., who says she wrote the famous letter “several years ago after a near student riot in Hibbing, following a basketball game.”
    “It was first published in the Hibbing Daily Tribune” the author says “And was picked up by The Readers Digest.”
    Mrs. Burville: Front and center, and take a bow!”

    Here are several links to Abby’s columns where she corrects the false attribution to the Judge. Her column is syndicated and you will find that article in many newspapers carrying Dear Abby.

    From the Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-10-29/news/9510290386_1_dear-abby-open-letter-sick

    The Bryan Times, July 2, 1985. (go to page 3 upper right) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=NtGNdKbuCngC&dat=19850702&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

    Inez Robb, Lewiston Evening Journal, March 26, 1963 (jump to page three) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1913&dat=19630326&id=f7QgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vmkFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2309,2430303

    Thanks for your consideration.
    Walt Burville

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