Weird Words of Wisdom: Big Splendid Manhood Edition

“There are many silly, flashy, worthless, and even evil girls who think the boys they desire are their legitimate prey. Often such girls appear to be superficially the most fascinating. They know the art and trick of making the most of their charms. Nothing will so definitely put a boy in a wrong light before a whole school or community, as friendships and associations with ‘fast’ girls. Give them all a wide berth.”

Marked Trails for Boys by Frank H. Cheley, 1931

About the Book: We’ve looked at several books for girls in my weekly series on advice manuals for teenagers, and we’ve seen the double standards and mixed messages girls have received about growing up. Well, this book proves that boys sometimes traveled a confusing path as well. Author Frank H. Cheley doesn’t want his young readers to be wishy-washy, namby-pamby, weak-willed sissy boys, but he does want them to be perfect gentlemen at all times.

About the Author: Frank H. Cheley was an outdoors enthusiast who believed that camping, hiking, and other outdoor experiences helped young people develop good character. After working with boys through the YMCA, he founded his own boys’ summer camp in the Colorado mountains in 1921. He added camp activities for girls in 1926. His many books for young people often used hiking and exploring as metaphors for life’s struggles. More than 90 years later, the Cheley family still runs Cheley Colorado Camps. Frank H. Cheley left behind a wonderful legacy.

(Of course, I’m still going to cherry-pick the most dated and silly-sounding quotes in his book for cheap laughs. Maybe if I’d gone to a better summer camp, I’d be above this sort of thing.)

Most unintentionally dirty-sounding passage this book: When a boy waits for true love, he will find himself “ready with a big splendid manhood to offer in return for the devotion and companionship of a splendid girl.”

Second most unintentionally dirty-sounding tidbit: “Then there is Sister…Some other boy will be discovering, almost before you know it, that ‘she is one girl in a thousand.’ Why not beat him to it? A fellow who is half alive can learn many, many things from his sister, if they are on right terms.”

Something you wouldn’t want to hear from a summer camp director nowadays: “One of the very finest things in all the world is a fresh, clean-cut, upstanding, eager-eyed boy, filled to overflowing with physical power and nervous energy, seeking a suitable world to conquer.”

Some of Cheley’s favorite adjectives for describing the ideal boy: Vigorous, lithe, red-blooded, clean (morally, although he does make the usual advice-book pitch for deodorant and shampoo), splendid, pure, fine-spirited.

Cheley’s favorite names for a less-than-ideal boy: Molly-coddle, jelly bean, lounge lizard, coward, do-nothing.

Most depressing way to urge kindness toward friends: Be generous in your praise…Your friends will be a long time dead.

Cheley’s favorite role model for boys: Teddy Roosevelt.

The two kinds of boys (or maybe dogs—this part is kind of confusing): “The thoroughbred leads the party to the top; head high, eyes shining, teeth set, muscles quivering from giving their best; a true fighter who loves the battle. The house pet snuggles into an overstuffed davenport by the radiator and asks mildly for toast and tea.”

Cheley’s recommendations for good health:

•             Simple, plain food

•             Vigorous outdoor work and play

•             “Keeping digestion active”

•             Sleeping regularly in the open air

•             Avoiding patent medicines

Other quotes from Marked Trails for Boys

“A loud, noisy, boisterous boy who is inclined to be a bit smart is very tiresome. No one likes a ‘cutie.’”

“Of course, a worthy person never tells a ‘dirty story.’ It simply cannot be done without the loss of your self-respect…The boy that tells such is advertising that he is rotten at the heart, the boy who listens to one is yellow; he has no convictions worthy of a gentleman.”

“There is no finer little thoughtfulness that a boy can show for his mother than to early form the habit of taking her often, even one flower.”

“A boy, to enjoy fine girl friendships, must always and at all times be a gentleman, courteous, chivalrous, not a long-faced,  pious goody-good. Girls admire real vigorous, masculine men, but gentlemen. To forget for a moment the fine properties is to coarsen and spoil a beautiful relationship.”

“Real folks have nothing but scorn for a spooney boy, and fine girls invariably resent being pawed over. Only cheap, undesirable girls tolerate it.”

“Have always a grand, good, glorious time; be a regular boy. Everyone despises a sissy.”

“Fine boys everywhere have a real responsibility for influencing girls in their crowds to fine, womanly conduct.”

“Take a good disposition to the study table. Say, ‘Come now, Mr. Algebra and Madame Latin, I’m ready to lick the tar out of both of you.’”