In My Opinion: The Seventeen Book of Very Important Persons, 1966
Edited by Enid Haupt
Today, in the holiday spirit, I’m offering something a little bit different than a typical Weird Words of Wisdom post making fun of a vintage teen advice book. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to those in the new year.)
About This Book: For many years, Seventeen Magazine featured a regular column called “Talk to Teens.” In this space, celebrities and leaders from various fields gave advice to young readers. In My Opinion is a collection of 43 such columns.
Our old friend Enid Haupt writes in her introduction, “Opening this book is rather like walking into a large party with every guest a celebrity, and all of them eager to talk just to you.”
Actually, it reads more like a series of college commencement speeches.
Many of the authors offer good advice—and, of course, a few offer weird advice. I have to wonder how 1960s teens would have received even the best advice in this book, however, considering that most featured authors came from their parents’ generation.
Many of these essays mention the generation gap, and my impression is that the gap was widening rapidly in 1966. My mother graduated from high school in 1965, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have found relevance in advice from people like Bennett Cerf, Burl Ives, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Crawford. (Actually, taking advice from Joan Crawford is probably a bad idea, no matter what your age.)
As we prepare to enter a new year, may these quotes provide inspiration (or, in some cases, amusement).
Quotes from In My Opinion
“…it’s so important to be flexible and to try to develop a number of interests, whether you use them for a cushion or a steppingstone. History books are full of people who stumbled onto the right path by sheer accident. And sometimes the best way to find your ultimate destination is simply to change your course.”
Jan Peerce, opera singer
“Nonsense is part of our birthright; and the more we are allowed to indulge in it—the more we are encouraged to make our own mistakes—the healthier we grow up to be.”
Kenneth Tynan, theater critic
“My vocation, it may have leaked out to you, is that of a writer, which means that I sit in a hot little room stringing words together like beads at so many cents per bead. It’s shabby-genteel work and, on the whole, poorly paid, but I’m too fragile to drive a brewery truck and I’m too nervous to steal…In the poolrooms I frequent, it has often reached my ears that the chief advantage of being a writer is that it allows you to sleep late in the morning. Don’t believe it. You can enjoy the same privilege as a night counterman in a cafeteria, and, what’s more, in that job you can always bring home stale Danish pastries for the kiddies.”
S.J. Perelman, humorist
“Though a career girl must often think like a man, she must always act like a lady…A woman in business has an enormous advantage: the fact that men are courteous. They will treat you with respect, listen when you talk and give your opinions priority. This is wonderful, of course, but don’t abuse their gallantry.”
Joan Crawford, actress
“The American girl is aware of most of the ingredients of beauty: posture, coiffure, make-up, costume and the rest. But she frequently quite overlooks voice and diction…To be beautiful, a girl must sound so.”
Chet Huntley, newscaster
“Sometimes talent is insufficient for earning a living and yet enough to provide for happiness. It is then worth the effort of pursuit. You will enjoy art more if you pursue it without thought of money. Pursue it for pleasure, for release, for enrichment of the mind and spirit, for simple happiness.”
Pearl S. Buck, author
Next week–advice from Shelley Winters, Pete Seeger, Rosalind Russell, Philip Roth, and others!
Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:
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