Snakes, Snails, and Puppy Dog’s Tails


There is an old 19th Century nursery rhyme: What Are Folks Made Of, by Robert Southey who became Poet Laureate in England in 1813.  He, like everyone else who is from the age before political correctness, realized there was a difference between little boys and little girls, men and women.

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

What are young men made of, made of?
What are young men made of?
Sighs and leers and crocodile tears;
That’s what young men are made of.
What are young women made of, made of?
What are young women made of?
Rings and jings and other fine things;
That’s what young women are made of.

Kyle Smith has a piece in the NY Post about outlawing boyhood.

“…In his ’50s memoir, “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid,” Bill Bryson recalls when unsupervised children’s play was the norm into adolescence – “I knew kids that were pushed out the back door at eight in the morning and not allowed back in until five unless they were on fire or actively bleeding.” Today, four-year-olds get loaded up with pre-pre-pre algebra, Impressionist history and sitar lessons. Girls can at least sit still for this. Boys can’t. They are dinged as “unruly” and their misadventures with learning begin. “Too often,” says boys’ psychologist Michael Thompson, “Boys are simply treated as defective girls….”

The other evening I caught the last half of Second Hand Lions.  It is one of those rare films that a person can pick up in the middle and enjoy it just as much as watching the whole thing.  The main characters, played by Michael Caine, and Robert Duvall take care of their young nephew, who has a mother who goes from one man to another.  The two old soldiers taught their nephew how to be a man.

They treated him like a man.  They expected him to be a man.  The kid learned how to hunt, fish, care for animals, and how to stand up for what was right and wrong, even backing down his mother’s abusive boyfriend.

I started thinking about how boys today are not taught how to be men.  I think the inclusion of Kyra Sedgewick as the slutty mother started me thinking about the difference today and yester-year.

Kyra Sedgewick is the great-grand-daughter of Endicott Peabody and his beloved Fanny.  The reason I mention Fanny is because Sedgewick is the image of her great-grandmother.  Endicott Peabody founded the now world-famous Groton School.   As I have mentioned previously, I had the honor of transcribing and annotating his 1882 diary, written while over-seeing the construction of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Tombstone.

To me his diary was important for several reasons.  Endicott Peabody’s legacy is Groton School and the educational tradition it created.  Peabody pioneered a system where the “whole child” was considered – body, mind & soul.  In order to understand Peabody, you must understand his legacy.  Once you look at this list – the mover and shakers of modern American political and financial history, maybe you an comprehend how much Endicott Peabody admired Wyatt Earp.  Peabody literally could walk with kings.  He was the White House Chaplin during FDR’s Presidency.  Yet, over all of those years, he held Wyatt Earp up as an example of what a man should be.

On the flip side, he considered John Behan, Milt Joyce, and their associates to be the most corrupt individuals he had ever encountered.  He never changed his mind about them or about the Cowboys.  All in all, I think Peabody’s opinion of Behan, Joyce, and the Cowboys is extremely damning.

Peabody’s admiration of Wyatt Earp and his opinions of the ‘county officials’ there in Cochise were not created out of bias, but blatant observation.  He is, to date, the most unbiased first person observation we have.  I think the anti-Earp tendency to destroy anyone who admires the Earps cannot stand under the logic of this argument.

Endicott Peabody demanded his students act like men.  When one of Theodore Roosevelt’s sons was injured playing football and the then President Roosevelt complained, Peabody severely chastised him. How did the President expect his son to grow up to be a man if he coddled him.

Peabody called it “Muscular Christianity”.

It is quite obvious the problem we have today is that not enough of our young men were/are being raised using that philosophy. I don’t know if it has as much to do with boys being raised without fathers who, themselves don’t know how to be men, or if it is something else.

I’m going to use young men I know as examples.  They are basically the same age.  All are second cousins.

Number One comes from a solid 2 parent home.  His parents barely make ends meet, but they are always together for church, and many meals.  He was required to go out and get a job if he wanted wheels.  He is paying his way through college, finishing early, and is also going on scholarships.  He works full time and carries a full load in school.  Several years ago his maternal grandparents basically lost everything, and moved into his parents’ rather cramped home.  He loves his grandparents and treats them with respect.

Number Two comes from a now divorced home.  His parents divorced when he turned about 19.  They have spent over $70,000 trying to deal with his addiction problem.  His father suffers from a serious personality disorder and constantly threatens suicide when things don’t go his way.  He dropped out of college after the first week, throwing away nearly $100,000 in scholarship money.  Currently he works at a local movie theater, full time, but is not going to college.  When not working and drinking he is playing with his buddies.  He treats his mother like dirt when he is drunk.  His father does not know how to act like a man.  When confronted with a serious life issue, he threatens suicide and then gets drunk.

Number Three’s parents were divorced when he was quite young.  His father is on either his 3rd or 4th wife, and umpteen children in each family.  There is enough money that no one needs worry about things.  He treats his grandfather with disdain, considering his inheritance a “done deal”.  He does not work.  He home schooled himself.  He may or may not be going to college depending on his moods and the latest Spiderman movie. He is also gay and had yet to come out of the closet.

One could look at these three young men and assume that a boy raised without a father or who has a father who has problems cannot grow up to be a man.  Ronald Reagan is the most glaring example disproving that theory.

I look at my brother.  He has two sons, one of whom has recently left the Army, where he served several tours with the 82nd and did both Iran and Afghanistan.  His son is in the submarine service, and did a tour in Iran. Both have turned out to be very successful young men of honor.

Boys today don’t have a chance.  If kids today pulled some of the things my father did growing up in the 1920s & 1930s they would now be in jail.  Maybe part of the problem is zero tolerance.  The other problem is drugging boys just for being boys.

They need snakes, snails, and puppy-dog tails.  They need to be able to be boys, loud, dirty, a little bit scary, with a sling-shot in the back pocket and the seat of their pants torn after getting it stuck while climbing a tree. There’s nothing wrong with a black eye, skinned knees, and trolling for crayfish in the creek.

We are being hailed with articles and studies that the male “gender” is doomed due to pollution and hormones in food products.  It looks like the whole educational system isn’t helping things.  If we aren’t careful, instead of a gender that produces men like George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Wyatt Earp, Endicott Peabody, my brother and his two sons, we are going to be forced to endure limp-wristed sissies like Barack Obama.

We’re doomed.

My grandparents had very good friends, one of whom was a direct descendant of John Adams, to the point where Uncle H. could pass as a double to Adams.  When a neighbor called to tell him that his step-son-in-law was running around on his step daughter, coming in drunk, and letting the family go hungry that old “Adams” blood boiled.  He took a truck to the daughter’s house and told her to pack for she and her two girls, that he was moving them back home.  He did not give her any other option.  He then had everything moved out of the house, leaving a note for the son in law.

The young man had one year to get his life together.  Then he could come “call” on his wife.  If he could not, he was never to come near them again.  A year later the son in law shows up, bank statement in hand, along with recommendations from a pastor and his job.   He ended up going into business with his father-in-law and ended life a very wealthy man, well respected by family and community.

Maybe that’s the problem.

Maybe Endicott Peabody was right.  How can a boy be a man if he isn’t allowed and required to act like one?

Men have a God-given right to belch, scratch, spit, snort, and pass gas – unfortunately.  So do little boys.  They have a right to annoy little girls, wriggle, be dirty, play with frogs, and do all sorts of gross things little girls – and their teachers – find downright disgusting.

It’s called boys being boys.

Now, let them.


Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under President Truman, presidential advisor to Johnson
Joseph Alsop, important and famous political journalist after World War II
Ayi Kwei Armah, Ghanaian novelist, short-story writer, essayist, considered one of Africa’s most important writers
James C. Auchincloss, United States Representative from New Jersey
Louis Auchincloss, author, winner of the National Medal of Arts
Tracy Barnes, CIA officer, one of the planners of the Bay of Pigs
Donald Beer, 1956 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Francis Biddle, Attorney General under Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941-1945), Chief American Justice of the Nuremberg Trials
George Biddle, artist
Hiram Bingham IV, American Vice Consul in Marseilles, France during World War II
Jonathan Brewster Bingham, United States Representative from New York
Richard Bissell, CIA Deputy Director for Plans, Bay of Pigs planner, father of U-2; formed the basis for Matt Damon’s character in the The Good Shepherd
Andrés Velasco Brañes, Finance Minister of Chile
Carter Brown, late art historian
McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson
William Bundy, McGeorge Bundy’s brother, foreign affairs advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson
Emory Clark, 1964 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Jim Cooper, United States Representative from Tennessee
Erastus Corning II, mayor of Albany, New York
Sy Cromwell, 1964 Olympic silver medalist in rowing
Laurence Curtis, United States Representative from Massachusetts
Bronson M. Cutting, United States Senator from New Mexico
F. Trubee Davison, Director of Personnel for the Central Intelligence Agency
C. Douglas Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury, Under Secretary of State, Ambassador to France
Ralph O. Esmerian, gem dealer and collector, owner of Fred Leighton, and trustee emeritus of the American Folk Art Museum
Adrian S. Fisher, Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Ned Freed, co-author of the MIME email standard (RFCs 2045-2049)
Peter Gammons, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, baseball writer and commentator
Ward Goodenough, Anthropologist known for his studies in the southern Pacific islands.
Gerrit Graham, actor
Marshall Green, Ambassador to Indonesia, Assistant Secretary of State for Far East
Robert Greenhill, CEO Greenhill & Company Investment Bank
Joseph Grew, Ambassador to Japan before WWII, Under Secretary of State
Charlie Grimes, 1956 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Fred Gwynne, actor
Gordon Gund, formerly the principal owner of the NBA franchise, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the co-owner of the NHL franchise, San Jose Sharks
E. Roland Harriman, financier and philanthropist
W. Averell Harriman, Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, U.S. Ambassador to Britain, Governor of New York
Mark Hedin, Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Stephen Hill, Executive Vice President at Black Entertainment Television and trustee of Groton School
Christopher Isham, Chief of Investigative Projects, ABC News
Francis Keppel, Commissioner of Education under President Kennedy
Howard Kingsbury, 1924 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
James Lawrence, 1928 Olympic gold medallist in men’s coxed fours, rowing
Hunter Lewis, author
Peter Magowan, managing general partner, San Francisco Giants
Harry Mathews, poet
Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations
Joseph Medill McCormick, United States Senator from Illinois
Fred Morgan, teacher at Sage Hill School, philanthropist
Newbold Morris, President of the New York City Council under Mayor Fiorello La Guardia
Henry Nuzum, Olympic rower in men’s double sculls, 8th place finish in 2000, 5th place finish in 2004
John Parker, fourth place finish at the 1988 Olympics in men’s eights, rowing
Ted Patton, 1988 Olympic bronze medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Alexandra Paul, actress, star of Baywatch
Endicott Peabody, former Governor of Massachusetts
Fuller Potter, abstract-expressionist artist
Stanley Rogers Resor, Secretary of the Army, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt, Jr., career CIA officer, soldier, scholar, linguist, and grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States
James Roosevelt, United States Representative from California, Brigadier General in the United States Marine Corps
Kermit Roosevelt, successful businessman, service in both World Wars, son of Theodore Roosevelt,
Quentin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s brother and son of President T. Roosevelt, fought and died in World War I
Quentin Roosevelt II, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson and nephew of Q. Roosevelt, above, killed in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances in China in 1948
Tadd Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s nephew, who was slightly older than his uncle, and attended Groton at the same time.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of President Teddy Roosevelt, Led the D-day assault on Utah Beach
Eugene Rostow, Under-Secretary of State under President Johnson, head of Arms Control Agency
Tom Rush, singer/songwriter
Robert C. Scott, United States Representative from Virginia
Ellery Sedgwick, editor
Frederick Sheffield, 1924 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Hardwick Simmons, former CEO Prudential Securities and NASDAQ
James H. Smith, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air and Director of the International Cooperation Administration
Lawrence Terry, coach of the 1936 Olympic gold medal-winning men’s coxed four in rowing
John Train, investment adviser and author
George Herbert Walker III, former ambassador to Hungary and board member of the New York Stock Exchange
Bradford Washburn, photographer, director of the Boston Museum of Science from 1939-1980 and has been its Honorary Director (a lifetime appointment) since 1985
Elisabeth Waterston, actress, The Prince and Me
James Waterston, actor, Dead Poets Society
Sam Waterston, actor, notably Law & Order’s Jack McCoy
Harry Payne Whitney, businessman and thoroughbred horsebreeder
John Hay Whitney, Ambassador to Britain, newspaper publisher
Richard Whitney, President of the New York Stock Exchange
William Payne Whitney, philanthropist and businessman

Trackposted to Rosemary’s Thoughts, Political Byline, Woman Honor Thyself, The World According to Carl, Democrat=Socialist, L.O.M.A., Right Voices, and Gone Hollywood, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.