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Would you prefer a simpler time? The world seems complicated to me now and the whole world is too busy.

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What a Young Man Should Know, 1933. A checklist for becoming a proper man.
This was published in the March 1933 issue of Harper’s Magazine.
The writer, Robert Littell, details the abilities, skills, accomplishments, and extra-curricular proficiencies that every man should have if they are to become a self-sufficient and well-rounded human being, ready for life, and eventually, marriage and raising their own children. The learning starts from a very young age.
Here is the (short) list:
1. He should know how to swim at least a mile, dive creditably, and not feel panicky under water. He should be able also to revive those less skilful than himself by rolling them on a barrel and pumping their helpless arms.
2. He should be able to drive an automobile well. And he should not be altogether helpless when a car breaks down. He must know how to change a tire and offer some sort of diagnosis when the engine sputters and dies.
3. He ought to know how to clean, load, and shoot a revolver or a rifle.
4. As for self-defense, a man should certainly be able to take care of himself in a scrap. He need not learn jujitsu — old-fashioned boxing will be enough.
5. He ought to know the rudiments of camping, how to build a fire, how to chop wood, how to take a cinder out of his eye, how to deal with a severed artery, how to doctor himself for ordinary ailments.
6. He should also be able to take care of other people in emergencies, to apply first aid, set a broken bone, revive a drunk or a victim of gas, deal with a fainting fit, administer the right emetic or antidote for a case of poisoning.
7. And he should be able to feed himself, to cook, not only because some day he may need to, but because cooking is one of the fine arts, and a source of infinite pleasure. He should be able to scramble eggs, brew coffee, broil a steak, dress a salad, carve a chicken, and produce, on occasion, one first-class dish, such as onion soup. The more he can do, in these days of the delicatessen store and the kitchenette, the better. It is not effeminate, it is not beyond him, and the best chefs are all men.
8. He should know how to use paint brushes, a saw, a hammer, and other common tools.
9. He should also have a beautiful and distinguished handwriting. But the bulk of his writing, particularly if he is a professional man who has much of it to do, should be done on a typewriter, capable of turning out three thousand words an hour.
10. He should play one outdoor game well, and have a workable smattering of several more. An American who cannot throw and catch a ball seems pathetic and grotesque.
11. The bicycle has gone, yet every young man should know how to ride one.
12. He should also be able to skate, sail a boat, and handle a canoe passably.
13. Fishing is a specialty, like chess.
14. Walking is a noble but neglected sport. Americans “hike” once in a long while but seldom walk.
15. He should know a great deal about animals and how to take care of them.
16. He should know how to ride a horse.
17. He should learn how to stay in a saddle with pleasure to himself and a minimum of annoyance to his mount.
18. He should learn how to dance.
19. He should know to play at least one card game.
20. He must have knowledge of how to tip naturally, justly, without fear and without reproach.
21. On the matter of alcohol, he should learn his capacity and stick within its limits; he should know something about the different kinds of drink, and which drinks produce chaos within him when mixed.
22. Where s:x is concerned, nature clearly intended us to make many mistakes in her hope that some of them would be productive.
23. He should know the rudiments of gambling. But gambling might be placed on the same plane as drink — the less use one has for it the better.
24. Higher than almost any other accomplishment on the list is knowing music. There is no reason why any young man who is not absolutely tone-deaf should not learn how to play one musical instrument well enough for it to be a self-resource and a tolerable pleasure to others.
25. A civilized man should know how to read. The ability to read, or rather the habit of reading, is very rare even among intelligent people, and has to be taught and kept up if it is not to become rusty.
26. He should have knowledge of at least one foreign language. French or German preferably both. German children learn an amazingly good brand of English without ever crossing their borders. Why can’t we? For one thing, we don’t really want to. Yet we should. An American who knows only English is blind in one eye.
27. He should know to travel well, efficiently, without fuss or complaint.
28. A young man should be able to express himself clearly before a crowd of strangers, without shyness, muddle, or a pathetic resort to “so much has been said and well said” or “I did not expect to be called on.”
29. The British adult can get to his feet, propose a toast, introduce a stranger, voice a civic protest, heckle a windbag politician, and give utterance to an unembarrassed thought.
30. A a man should command the elementary tool of written language, and be able to put simple things on paper in clear words.
31. He should have a good workable understanding of the structure of business, investments, and banks.
32. Let every educated man, as a necessary part of his education, be thrown into the muddy stream of American industry and see what it is like to swim alone on daily wages.
33. He should before reaching twenty-two have done something because he wanted to, whether other people wanted him to do it or not.
34. He should not acquire property unless he needs it. Insensitiveness to his personal property, unless of course it is extraordinarily beautiful, is a desirable skill for any man to have; It must be learned and worked at.
35. Unusual though this young man may be, he should not seem so. Is not a parent’s basic ambition for his child that he be very different from other people, yet manage to seem almost exactly like them?

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