This is an excerpt from chapter of a fictional life of Boone published in 1943, and meant for children, especially boys. If you have had the poor luck to have looked for books for children in today’s marketplace, you know what they’re like: every single one of them is a Disney princess tale, full of magical doings, and packed with a cast of characters assembled according to the college-brochure checklist: Bennetton-ad, skin-tone diversity. In the end, triumph comes to those who really want it really bad, because life is all about having all your desires magically met, because You are a Unique and Special Snowflake™.
Seriously, if you want to understand Generation Snowflake’s incompetence at real life, start with their grade-school indoctrination. In 1943, there were no such illusions, and the grade-school indoctrination was both (1) written at what is now high-school level, and (2) eucivic rather than dyscivic in nature. Imagine the freakage from Gun Ban Barbie and your own town biên-pensant busybodies if the school library contained a book with this:
It was November second, 1746, and it was Daniel’s twelfth birthday. He was twelve years old. Now he should get the gun his father had promised him. His brothers had received their guns when they were twelve.
But maybe he wouldn’t after all. He knew his father didn’t have the money to buy one. He was afraid he didn’t have enough skins to trade.
Hunting had been bad all fall. It had turned cold early in October. There had been several bad snowstorms. A deep snow covered the ground now and it was still very cold.
The fur-bearing animals—beavers, foxes, martins and weasels—were hidden away in caves. If they came out, none of the hunters around Exeter had seen them.
It was their skins the traders wanted most.
Daniel was afraid they wouldn’t take deer skins for a gun; their fur wasn’t thick enough. And, so far as he knew, deer skins were all his folks had.
His brothers had been hunting several times this fall but they had killed nothing but deer. At least that’s all they mentioned.
So what chance had he to get a gun? No game, no skins. No skins, no gun. And to make things worse, some of the boys were coming to see his gun this morning.
He hoped the snow would keep them at home but he knew it wouldn’t. Hadn’t he walked miles through snow to see Joe’s and Paul’s new guns?
Of course, the whole gun thing would make Snowflake’s mom go all Trigglypuff in a public school board meeting, but that’s the least of this book’s sins. Someone who Read Until Offended would probably protest its depiction of Indians, but the depiction is actually well balanced, and is taught by young Daniel becoming infatuated by what he sees as the superiority of the Indians’ way of life, only to learn that the natives are different and deserve respect, and one can’t merely project his own cultural norms on to them.
Likewise, it’s interesting to consider the way in which the book describes young Daniel learning to hide in the woods, find direction, read sign, and track, and how his parents and other adults explain to him how he cannot go to the woods alone until he is old enough, because it is dangerous. Compare that to what parents today teach their kids about dangers, and you can’t help but conclude we’ve had three-quarters of a century to inculcate the reflexive, but ineffective, responses of possums and ostriches to threats. A thousand sad demises recounted in the Where Guns are Outlawed columns here can be explained by comparing the feeble children’s literature of today to the robust children’s literature of the 1940s.
This book turned up at the town swap shop, with a perfect-penmanship inscription awarding it to a boy in 1948, as a reward for five years’ perfect attendance at a mainline Protestant church’s Sunday school. (That same church has no Sunday school any more, but the female pastor and her wife fight the Social Justice War, with their turkey baster babies alongside them. What’s today’s equivalent of that 1948 kid going to amount to, when Sunday School was holding a Hillary! sign in the cold, and trying to keep both mommies from ending it all late that night; and Daddy was a turkey baster?)
You want to know whether Daniel got his rifle, right, and if so, what he did with it? Entire chapter attached: Daniel Boone’s First Gun.pdf .
You want to know why many of our young people lack the character of our grandparents? Start with the books. Start with the culture.
Apologies to all for not identifying the book in the initial post. It was Daniel Boone, Boy Hunter by Augusta Stevenson. It is from a series called Childhood of Famous Americans, and to my amazement it is still in print! You can get a paperback at Amazon for $7. One hopes it has not been bowdlerized. Many other books are in the series, including Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver. Some are in print and some are not.