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One of my friends didn't get himself killed. It wasn't a close friend but everybody know he stole a car and he got killed that's what sort of stopped everything. I mean that and it ain't nobody. I mean they just broke up you know that was you know but it was all harmless fun. What we did. I mean this is been part of the program is one of a series called coming of age about American youth today. The stories in the series are factual and told by the teenagers who have lived them. None of these accounts is completely typical of all teenagers it couldn't be. But in each program there will be many things which may touch on the life of a teenager. You know at the end of each program we invite the comments of a recognized authority at the end of this program. You'll hear Dr. Bertram Schaffner. The boy who's telling his own story is
18 years old and a senior in high school. After one boy got killed. And when I we sort of started some gas we had to we were called out and the car was out of gas and we were about 50 miles from where I would buy two gallons of gas. We still it was a minute and we got our way home we got caught for that and went to court and after that those two or three events that was it. I mean everybody split up and went different ways and I the only one that's left in the school of all when we went to court. Well I was my first offense I would never been in trouble if I didn't and I was from probation. Of course that's all I could do I just could suspend it to court what happened tell me about that your dad had to go with your you know tell me about my mother want me very concerned and I thought the reason is I told everybody else to
get some trouble and learn your lesson. It did. But of course they're hard to talk to. But she was pretty good about it. We went and we waited and it was it was over and I have 15 minutes. He just said he would notify the probation officer to come to see me and he would give me further details. That's all there was to it. Up to that time your parents were probably Obviously your parents weren't keeping him alive. Now any change in that. See I've always been on my own. I mean I think of for myself but it's how timid she was pretty shaken up that about six months last year. You know things that were happening and coming in late everything first suggested I sell my car and then I quit the part time job because I had to travel from school which is about seven miles that was up and back at 14 miles and I was getting no sleep. And then well
she just surviving to sell a car you go to school or quit. So I made my mind to go and when I started at the court I did miss one day from court thing in the New Year. That was about ice a span of about six weeks and I showed teachers that I wanted to go through and I passed my exams and I passed. From then on I was pretty good. You mentioned your mother a lot you haven't mentioned much about your day. Why is that. Well yes he's all right but it could be better. I mean and start stupid arguments over nothing in the moment things up for me 90 percent of it but 50 percent of kind of unbearable not unbearable but pretty ridiculous. A Muslim school that would be my freshman year I was on a freshman team played out back. I got I could go to school go to practice I came home
and he said where were you or why I was so late I thought it was a practice and call me a liar. I was always there and it just lead to a big I don't think that happened maybe two or three years before that. And my mother would interrupt and she would protect me now if we could yeah it was senseless and I'd go out you know. Did you make the football team. Yeah me freshman year me starting team sassed back sophomore year I did laugh for about two weeks but I didn't quit entirely Janet. And with my own reasons. I was 17 I think. And you know if I had a car I said I wanted to get a car do I want to hold a part time job so I did quit football. But I mean I'm not playing tight he bought him but he helped you know if you like for both. Yeah but there was a new about it is
I guess the same thing in every school to the Braves are playing you know regular I mean they're sort of big deal you know I mean they're handpicked you know you know understand I mean I like the fun one guy's father be a doctor nice guy but somebody poured into town you know that helps you know. And they live different lives on. It's pretty hard to make Yeah right sounds strange it seems to me that the team usually wants to win so they pick the best players out of it. Yeah that's true but I mean like for instance me put it this way it is a game for the boys when they're on a team DeFazio be down I'm still I mean and he did he did he watch it and they'll show some interesting little boys on. I mean but what are you saying that if the boy's father is prominent in the town that helps to get in on the team but I want to get in on the starting team helps in different ways not if he wasn't good he isn't good he won't make it
yeah but. Coaches show more favoritism toward I think we should like to have it come down to for the brightest when they see the same way with the searchers as he has with you because you fail you have the parents favor with somebody you get your favorite I know that. And while that's the way it is the favorite down here I suppose or why you're right is because he picks on you was my point route. I think he's jealous. Tell you the truth. He's so rich tell me how hard you work in. It's a crime for me and see me going to school not working. Did your father not go to high school. No you didn't go to high school. My mother graduated here in my time I said look I quit I struggled to get a job when you're going to finish high
school you lay yourself and you start ridiculous items like that and I asked him which he wanted me to do work on school and he'd try to work rims way out of it. Funny I said well I'm not concerned about us one percent about myself I'm going to screw up once I finish that I'll be on my own you are the way that me when you have your car and you were out a lot. Well because he didn't like that either what it was it was right then I guess you could say naturally but he did make an awful rap kind of person I could go to and say look I have a little trouble let's talk like that at all. I just have to figure things out for my own that's all. He's just there in my thing. So when you were in trouble did you talk you mother. Well she was pretty upset though because she and I was like just that one year and seemed to get along with. So she was trying to start
me on your own way you know yelling and trying to tell me different things. You can't talk you know in there but I think you get carried away. But she understandable anyway. Well now that you're doing better in school and everything. What's her attitude. Very good seats you know if you see the improvement. She knows it and then she tells you that she does. Oh yeah. Does your dad tell you that he's happy that you are saying I will but not now. You ever talk with him. Don't you know any man and the other men about problems that you have. No no I just wondered if you would go so well you know I never do sort of work out myself that's all. And there are a lot of somebody have to have respect for me and sort of lost it I guess. And the fact that
I can see that. I mean he favors my sisters and he you know that's all or so and there's no association between us no father and son or nothing. He's not proud of and I proud of him so he doesn't trust you. Now if you just meet on your own time he's proud of me I can say is you see some of this is fellow workers or somebody you know some friends they'll say well this is my son and so-and-so is doing such and such and you know when he's trying to press himself on them not me. But otherwise he never says well you're doing good or proud or something like that. I guess the main fact in there are you working girls life instead of going to school because the men and women in the middle you much screwed on. He just gets rash and putting it on when
he was at school is no good time because we did its best and I thought I'd never do it I mean you have to want to be that you have to get your life. But when the fact is mentioned how far he went well that's when he gets violent. Euro throughout history. I know that there's a man so I mean I don't care how far he went how funny when he's got a good job and he makes a good income so it does make a difference for me but I was talking about how he works. I know he thinks the only person in the world that works actually what subject you like best in school. I like history and I like I don't like mathematics at all. I like English parts of it and. I call it like I said four years old but you've had four years of I that's a lot of freshmen sophomores juniors seniors who most kids take four years. Now most kids take it just to get the point.
You know why you do you know for years now I get good at it pretty good. I'm not I'm not I'm not a painter I like to draw like you know sketch stuff like that. And I enjoy it so I took it. You never thought of going without instead of less than that but I'm not really that good. I like it but I guess I would take up the quest pretty a lot of money to go to school going to school or something like that. I like to be a cartoonist. I don't mind but I faded out. Right now I want to be a barber that fades out. I mean that is something else. Will have any of your teachers ever told you that they thought you were good at art. Often people made those remarks that I was that I was good but just not too much concerned about it and my teachers because I know a lot a lot of other people who are better than I am just as I was a natural talent I mean you don't learn how to do it you have it in your or you can't do it at all. I mean I'm not
a regular artist which some people are and those people go ahead and make something out of themselves in your field. That's who the teachers have concern about this people to chelate pick barbering. Well I want to get into a business I feel that's the best way to make make a living. I mean learning anyway and it's low overhead just not to much you have to worry about. It's very good money to get paid. Good now I figure by the time that I do become a barber one of the wages will be even higher than they are right now right now to up to $2 dollar 75 and it's a good clean life style plan to try it out. How do you know they get along. I'm good thank you. The problems coming up the sheets on the sheet help me out you know if I need a money. Now your sister is younger than you are. Yeah how do they get along with your parents. With my father pretty good and it's like it's mixed up now I feel how it may be hard to death say no words you
know do the thing out if I do something wrong or somewhere he says I do and he started yelling or little thing my system of my mother was like you know how you know that she gets mad at the old man but when you were younger your mother and father used to have arguments that runs from a. Lot of time they start over me you know sticking up for me. What does he do for recreation. Oh yeah that's when you go bowling. Like go fishing. Now I did hear my fishin flash fight here as I said I was about 15 you used to go up and you said that when you were here together he would like to show you off. Yeah well show him stuff off my last I guess you put it that way you know how I get there otherwise and that it's all right to do what he said I don't know. Well yes I don't.
When I'm around he doesn't mention anything. You know this is tough for me specifically anything but I want to fight a friend like me. The boys with me tonight and when he comes down he's always talking to him you know talking to him about his job in this and I help or he thinks he is you know and he's trying to feel important you know. What kind of a job has you got to have. He's a firm you know he's got a lot of seniority there you know. He's been about 24 years got a good job but he lets me know about it. You know how hard he works. Stuff like that. What kind of life would your dad have when he was a kid doing a burger. Oh I don't know he quit school. You know he worked a lot and I heard my mother mention a couple times but he didn't have to quit you could see what his mother wanted to go to school and everything you know. But I don't think I don't think you had a rough life only when he he could do whatever you want to let's put it that way but I do make very much out of it I guess.
You know times a father will say to assume it will say well now I was a boy. Oh yeah I mean I hear that I hear that. What does he say. When I was a boy I was at work when I was 15 CC camp whatever it is I did this I did that. Why can't you do it. I say I'll quit school then. Which is really pretty hard hit by the depression of your talk about it she said. You say you went to a CC camp as you were talking about that you know when he tells me the word she told me to quit school went on a road gang work better than I have today or something like that I don't know I know it was rough but I mean you know it seems you bring it up but your dad's worked at this one job I gather pretty much all his life. Yeah yeah. And stealing jobs had stuck to it. When you started the bottom of the place and were Yeah you must be a very steady worker and he is.
That's one thing I can say for messy me plenty ever brings up is OUR he works but he does work like I mean you know he's our worker they say never I came in when he misses day only when he was very sick when you feel sick a lot of people have that will stay home but he could go. He does go every day. Does your mother work now. Yes she's been working what kind of work does she do. I'm not sure she's in the office she's not a machine run or anything. She's either in the office or in the stock room. One of the other. She doesn't do typing. No no you know she does she has the ability I mean she went to school with you but I think she does and she worked for a long time but the last eight years. Does that mean that your mother and dad are often the other way both of them all day long. Oh yeah. He's home at 2:30 she's on the 4:30 and he makes his supper and I hear that all the time about how hard he
works you can still make supper. And say that I could be making his supper and shove him in maybe five minutes later writer because later something else to harp and he'll say you don't have to work your money you don't make it out much in theirs and they just doesn't pay to stuff like that you know something like it's just suddenly I lost steam about you know well as a true that your mother really doesn't have to work in order to support the family. Well I would say she's on. Well I guess we're getting older you know you have that one thing but realize that just I work you're so much older than your next older sister and you know you're 14 so you're five years older. Can you remember back to the time before your first sister ever came along. I can remember is they brought it home but before that I can't you know I just think you remember that he was being brought into the house. It wasn't too bad.
I mean what was that like you know what happened. Well before she was around I mean you know I was the day that I brought her home. Oh I don't know. I guess nobody was happy either. And pretty I remember when you were younger before you started to understand away from your dad to take you fishing or anything. Yeah I was to go fishing. He used to go perch fishing up the lake and we used to go for about maybe two weeks. We go red day or maybe three three days a week and we have pretty good times already that I would say 14 15 and just you know there's times when he's all right you know I mean it can be bad you know bad all the time. When you go fishing with and I was at when I was there I mean it's interesting it was fun. Would he climb on us then. Yeah it was alright Daniela but it was like a love father and son you know.
Actually without and I go about we've just had a good time. But there will be touchy about the way you were fishing or making noise or rocking the boat. Which soon after good timing never argued. So you and I we always were in a house like this together. It sounds like you know you only ever have an argument when you're at home and when you know your mother and dad are on the same place correct. I don't know what kind of things they argue about. Oh no. Lot of time start on me. I mean most of the time anyway. Something something I did and actually naturally Schillinger up and she'll you know stand up for me everything and then leave to someone else. He just broke into sobriety doesn't look ahead or anything doesn't try to improve
just lives to comment on this program in the series coming of age. We invited Dr. Bertram Schaffner a practicing psychoanalyst and consultant on mental health to the United Nations secretary at this boy seems to me pretty sad about his life and the saddest of all seems to be the relationship with the father that you kept emphasizing I gather. That at one time it must have been a good relationship that he and this father went fishing together and that there was some kind of solid talking between them. But now that's different. Now I got a slightly different impression of what's going on from the impression of the boy seems to have. In. Fact it seems to me mostly when he is questioning the boy he is really trying to find out how he is doing in school and whether he is
really attending to his schoolwork. Seems to me that when he emphasizes to the boy how hard he's working he's saying to the boy that perhaps if the boy gets more education he may not have to work as hard in life as the father. Of course there is something poorer about the way the father tries to help his son even when he is trying to help him to achieve more. He seems in some way to be reproaching him. I think this has confused the boy. He doesn't see that underneath the father's gruff talk there is the wish to help. Moreover he feels quite sure that his mother wishes to help him and perhaps the father's real motives are more difficult to grasp than the mother's. On the other hand from the boy's point of view as he says my mother gets carried away she gives direct positive
suggestions such as make up your mind stay in school or quit sell a car get to sleep earlier. These are helpful. But not helpful enough. Seems to me this boy is. Not very hopeful about being able to get along with people. Maybe this is why. He and his group took the gas instead of asking for the gas. And maybe this is why he chooses a profession like barbering in which although there is conversation with the customer essentially one is working alone. But all in all. I think this boy is going to. Profit. If anyone helps him to find out how to get help. It seems to me he is eager to use whatever is offered him that it will be helpful. There also is another
problem. I'm not sure whether the father is receiving enough help and recognition from his wife. In other words he seems to not only do the hard work and earn the income for the family but also since his wife is working it seems to prepare meals to. And to take a position of responsibility toward the education of the child. On the other hand the mother seems to fail to understand that the father is trying to be helpful when she when he talks to their son. The mother seems to take the father's behavior over and talk as if it is critical. And as the boy says she tries or rushes in to defend the boy. Is the mother driving a wedge between the Father and the boy. It would sound that way. And I certainly don't mean
to say by that that this is what she wants to do or is trying to do. But it sounds as though there is a problem between the mother and the father and that the boy somehow takes the brunt of it. I would think that maybe all of members of this family need help from some outside source such as a family agency or a counseling service. But perhaps they don't know how to ask for that either. Plus that I think he needs a good deal of encouragement. He speaks about the help that fathers give which I think has to do with encouragement. He speaks about it as if. A prominent father will be able to get the coach to select his son. I think the boy is a little mistaken there about the. Necessity of having a father a prominent one. But I think that the
boy is right essentially and in a feeling way. That were his father to come along to the football practice or where his father to come along and show his interest that not only would the boy feel more like it is worthwhile for him to go ahead but that the boy might actually do better and that he would be then more likely to get the place that he wants on the team. I get the feeling that possibly his father didn't have very much relationship with the boy's grandfather as the boy now has no relationship with the father. I would think you're right. And of course it is true. Unfortunately it's true. That. The very patterns of our own childhood which we would like to avoid imposing upon our children. We often unconsciously do. We repeat them even though we are trying our
hardest not to do so. But I would think that. There is also some implication here which connects up with a very major problem in our day that is that we have lost touch with the means that used to be at hand for getting advice and counsel. In former times families lived together in such a way that there was easy access. But between the generations. Grandchildren could often turn to grandparents for counsel. There was a great deal more of a vailable wisdom about living in today's world. Where families move about so often. There is often a separation from the sources of guidance.
So these boys apparently needed some gas but would seem to me so noticeable immediately is that when boys run out of gas they might think first about asking some man some older man like a father if they could be given two gallons. After all most fathers most men around that age would rather land some boys 2 gallons of gallons I think rather than to see them stay out all night or get into trouble. This idea apparently didn't occur to the boy that one could ask for help. Next week we'll hear another 18 year old boy in a remarkable story of adjustment to the temptations and problems of today's teenage world coming of age is a series about youth today produced for the National Educational Television and Radio Center by the Center for mass communication of Columbia
Coming of age
Jim and his old man
Producing Organization
Columbia University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Jim's father appears to resent him. Why?
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Explores the thoughts and feelings of American youth in the 20th century. Writer-director Ben Park talks with teenagers and parents, teachers and friends.
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Social Issues
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Director: Park, Ben
Interviewee: Schaffner, Bertram, 1912-2010
Producing Organization: Columbia University
Writer: Park, Ben
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-21-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:12
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Chicago: “Coming of age; Jim and his old man,” 1961-05-10, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “Coming of age; Jim and his old man.” 1961-05-10. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: Coming of age; Jim and his old man. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from