Students: On the Fringe of a Golden Era

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"If Booth Tarkington were to write Seventeen today," says a Connecticut high school English teacher, "he'd have to call it Twelve." Sociologist Reuel Denney notes with fascination the shopping list of a twelve-year-old suburban girl: "Water pistol, brassiere, permanent." When a 16-year-old Louisville boy, as a practical joke, gravely announced at dinner that his girl friend was pregnant, the first reaction of the stunned family came from the boy's younger brother, 13. "My God," he said. "You'll lose your allowance."

Worldly, interesting, informed and even intellectual when barely out of...

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