Book Title: The Real Home
In the forests of northern Minnesota, early settlers were easily lost. At one home, the little girl was allowed to play near the house, while the mother watched that she did not stray far away. When the child neared the forest, the mother would rap on the window to call her back.
But on one occasion, the mother forgot – for even mothers sometimes forget. The child wandered till she was lost in the dense forest. She was finally found in an unconscious state by a searching party. Restoratives were applied; and as consciousness returned, the child gaze on her mother as though she would speak. Finally she found voice, and asked, “Mother, why didn’t you rap on the window?”
Girls are now lost every day. Sometimes search is made, sometimes not. Mothers may call and weep, but in vain, for they begin too late.
It is said that a few years ago, within thirty days, seventeen hundred girls were lost en route between New York and Chicago. There are no figures to show that conditions have improved since. What must the total number for the whole country be?
“Dr. Harper told of the sensational discovery made in a high school recently, that twenty of the girls attending that institution had fallen from grace, and he declared that the shocking condition of affairs was due to the tactics of a band of young men who ostracized girls that would not accede to their vicious demands. The rule of the band was that a girl must be unchaste or she would not be permitted to have a good time.”
In the city alluded to, a legislative investigating committee was appointed, and the chief of police bore this testimony before it:
“In the first place, some of the parents of girls do not take proper care of them; and in the second place, these girls will do anything to go with a man who to them appears above their social scale. They like to go out automobile riding. Gradually they are induced to take long trips; occasionally they will drink a little to be congenial; and all the rest follow in close succession.”
A woman connected with the associated charities of another large city, gave before the same committee this analysis of the situation:
“The chief cause for this low condition of morality is improper supervision of the young people. The parents are greatly to blame for allowing their children to keep late hours, eat large dinners and stimulating food, and attend many dances improperly chaperoned. The desire of the young girl to gain social position often leads her to leave the straight and narrow path of virtue.”
The editor of the Republican, while advocating that too much trust be not placed in police regulations, states the truth when he declares:
“But to keep the morals of the community sound and sweet is the business of the family, and our increasing dependence upon the schools and the police for what is the proper business of parents in a real danger.”
These conditions existed before the World War. High-thinking men and women were shocked and alarmed as they took in the situation during those dreadful days. “It is one of the sorriest sights imaginable,” wrote the editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, “in these days of anxiety, to walk any evening along the main streets of a city adjacent to a military camp, and see the hundreds of young girls, until late hours, idly parading up and down, giggling, and striving by every known feminine artifice to attract the attention of the young men in uniform who are on ‘leave.’ These young girls hover around moving-picture houses and railroad stations, even the solitary tent of the boy guarding a bridge not being free of two or three girls passing and repassing his tent until his attention is attracted.”
The editor says further:
“But what of the parents of these girls? What are they thinking about, that they allow their young daughters deliberately to flirt with danger and do what they can to break down the gentleman’s code? Life must have taught these parents some lessons that their daughters have not learned. Are they insensible to them? Or have they no idea – and this is probably closer to the truth – where their daughters are, or what they are doing? ‘We trust the boys,’ they say. That is a very comfortable theory, but have we the right to place all the responsibility on the boy? Shall we say to the boy, ‘Thou shalt not forget,’ and not to the girl, ‘Thou shalt not tempt’? Is it any fairer to expect our boys to hold fast to the standard when every artifice is used by girls to break down those standards?
“We have been fearfully lax in this country about the freedom that we give our girls. We have fooled ourselves with the belief that the American girl can take care of herself anywhere. But responsible reports do not prove this to be a fact. We might as well get it into our heads that these are days fraught with gravest danger for young girls, and the sooner their parents awake to this fact, the better it will be. Proper parental caution now will save after regrets and the keenest lamentations that can come to thousands of homes. An ounce of prevention now is worth pounds of cure, not forgetting that there are some things which cannot be cured!”
In an automobile accident near an Eastern city, two girls were badly injured. When this was printed in the morning paper, one hundred eighty-six mothers telephoned to the hospital to know if those injured were their daughters. It is hard to believe that there could be in that city so many mothers who did not know where their girls were the night before….
Do you, mother, know where your daughter is tonight and every night? Do you absolutely know, or is your belief based on what your girlie says as to her whereabouts? If you permit her to stay away from home at night, if she is allowed to go where and when she pleases, a sad awakening is before you. While the police of two cities on the Pacific Coast were searching for her, Florence Blank walked into her home on Twenty-seventh Street, and nonchalantly remarked, “I’m married, mother.”
Florence was seventeen years old. She was a pretty girl. One night she disappeared. She left no clue behind. She met a girl friend in the evening and went to stay with her that night. The next day, the girls met two young men, Maurice and Edgar. Florence and Edgar fell in love (?) with each other. They did not confide in their friends. The following day, they were married, after an acquaintance of twenty-four hours. Only three days of absence, and then Florence returned home to announce coolly that she was married.
Such accounts are familiar to all who read the newspapers. Each means one more misguided, unfortunate girl. Mother failed…to train and guard her child in time. How inexpressibly sad for both mother and daughter!
MOTHERS WHO ARE BLIND
On one occasion when Mrs. Bess Fife Brooks had given a lecture to mothers, at its close they filed by to shake hands with the speaker.
One mother paused to say: “I think, Mrs. Brooks, you are too hard on the girls when you say they need so much watching. I am glad to say my daughters have never caused me a moment’s anxiety. I would trust my girls anywhere.”
Her daughter closely followed, and listened to what she said. The girl then whispered to the lecturer, asking if she might see her alone the next day. When she came, she began her visit thus:
“I heard what mother said to you yesterday, Mrs. Brooks, and I want to tell you she is one of the worst fooled women in this town. I have deceived her shamefully; but it is partly her own fault, for we girls have never felt free to go to her with our troubles. If she knew half of what I’ve been into in the last six months, she’d have a fit….
“One night we went over to Marie’s, and when we were trying to kick the globe off the electric light in the ceiling, her mother came home unexpectedly. The upstairs was full of cigarette smoke, and we had a beer bottle sitting in the middle of the floor. We heard her coming. We nearly killed ourselves getting things hid….One girl grabbed the bottle and threw it out of the bathroom window. Two of the girls threw their cigarettes in the slop jar….We told her mother we had been burning tobacco to kill the smell of moth balls off our furs….She swallowed it all down and went to bed; and not one of our mothers knows about the scrape to this day.
“I’ve smoked cigarettes till it has ruined my voice. I used to sing high soprano, but now my voice is so harsh and coarse I can scarcely get in on the alto row of the Glee Club. My father has been paying doctor’s bills, had me under the care of a nerve specialist all winter long. They think it is the heavy studies I am carrying that have broken me down and made a wreck of me. But if I told them the truth, it would make the old folks sit up and take notice, believe me.”
Mrs. Brooks looked at the girl in astonishment, and said:
“Why, girlie, your mother is a church worker; she is a good woman, and dresses you beautifully. Your father has spent much money on your music, and has given you advantages, even beyond what he can afford. Why don’t you go to your mother and tell her all about this? She’ll help you. I’m just a stranger.”
The girl replied:
“Not for me, Mrs. Brooks. My mother is a good woman, and I love her; but if you think I could cuddle up to her and tell her what I’ve told you, you’ve got another guess coming. A girl needs something besides nice things to eat and handmade underwear. We girls might as well live with a fence post for all the companionship she gives us. When we try to ask her about things we want to know, she changes the subject, and says it isn’t nice.” …
Some astonishing facts relating to the criminal indifference of mothers, and their neglect to safeguard their young daughters in the teen age, are given in “The Second Line of Defense,” by Margaret Slattery.
In a certain town, a group of homes was visited where there were daughters from thirteen to nineteen years of age. Sixty such homes were visited, and only five girls were found at home between half past eight o’clock and half past nine o’clock in the evening. Only eight parents knew where their daughters were supposed to be.
When inquiries were made as to where they might be, such answers as these were given:
“Probably taking a walk.”