University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Gender and Women's Studies Collection

Page View

Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Volume 118, Number 3 (March, 1931)

Craven, Margaret
String bean,   pp. 36-37 PDF (1.2 MB)

Page 36

E 1'TER COURTNEY COOPER locked himself
in the bathroom and removed his father's shav-
ingkit from thesecond shelf of the medicine chest.
First he worked up a grand lather, flicking a
blob at the Pooch, who immediately went into
irement around the end of the tub where he could watch
this performance in safety.
"Prettv nifty, what?" he said to the Pooch. "But you
haven't seen anything yet."
Next he examined his chin closely and found a couple
of measly little bristles, surrounded by a kind of fuzz, so
he covered it all up with a generous lather, picked out
Mr. Cooper senior's oldest and most cherished razor, anl
began in earnest.
He decided that some day he was going to buy himself
a very tricky safety razor-a gold one in a leather case
that cost five bucks. He was going to buy himself a blade
sharpener with a little handle that you turn round and
round, instead of one of these old-fashioned strops.
Still, there was something very nice about a strop.
There was something very pleasant about standing with
your chin wet and covered with soap, humming to your-
self, the blade gleaming up and down on the leather,
the water oozing a little to one side, your suspenders
flopping loosely around your legs.
Peter Courtney Cooper made a nice stroke, which by
some luck escaped removing a piece of his chin, and
promised himself that if he ever grew up enough to shave
every day, he was going to try his blades first on a hair,
which he would pull out of his head for that purpose.
At this point there was a rattle at the door and an
indignant. "Peter, you've been in there long enough.
What are you doing?" in a voice which belonged to his
elder sister. She was a lovely creature, but just now Peter
Courtney Cooper wished she would fall in the mud and
get her face dirty.
"Oh, go chase yourself," he informed her, "an' lemmc
"Peter, you come out of there right away. Do you hear
"Isn't there any place in this house that a man can go
without being pestered to death?" asked Peter with
Miss Cooper's high heels clicked across the upstairs
hall, and her about-to-squeal-on-young-brother voice
called down the stairs, "Mother-r-r-r, Peter's locked
himself in the bathroom again."
The lather was all off now, and Peter's face was a little
sore, so he rubbed some of his sister's best lotion on it.
It had a nice smell, and he spilled it generously over the
wash bowl.
This done, he pulled up his suspenders, and he wished
that he had enough waist so he could wear trousers with
a belt without feeling as if they were going to slide off all
the time. And he wished his ribs wouldn't stick out from
under his shirt. He wished he weren't so goshawful tall.
And he wished that just once somebody would say, "Who
is that big fellow over there?" instead of, "Who is the
bean pole?" And he wished that the next short little runt
he met at a dance wouldn't say, "Is it cold up there?"
ALSO, he wished very much that somebody would call
him Slim instead of Skinny, and that he had hairs
(7 his chest. He remembered that he had caught his
sister putting vaseline on her eyelashes because she said
it made them grow, so he took some out and rubbed it in.
This would send the laundress to Mrs. Cooper and Mrs.
Cooper to Peter with a. "Peter, what is this stuff you have
all over your shirts?"  But be didn't care-not if it
Now there was a perfect avalanche of protest being
lodged against the door. Peter braced his foot against
it, and said, "Well, what do you want now?"
"I'm late already," wailed his elder sister, "and if you
don't come out of there this minute, Peter Cooper-"
The voice stopped abruptly. Peter listened. His
mother's feet were coming up the steps.
He picked up three Turkish towels and four hand
towels, all sopping wet, wiped up the floor with one,
took the dust off his shoes with a second, removed flecks
of lather from the ceiling wish a third, and dumped the lot
into the hamper where they could mildew if they were so
Mrs. Cooper was now at the knob. "Peter, you unlock
this door at once," she ordered in the voice there was no
denying. "How many times have I told you-"
"All--1-1 right. Don't get your blood pressure up. I
was going to," he told her. And he unlocked the door and
came out.
"You'll be late to school," declared Mrs. Cooper in-
dignantly. "You come right home and mow the lawn,
and bring in some coal for Lena."
Peter walked downstairs slowly, the Pooch dragging
along behind him. The' both felt very low in their
minds. Peter couldn't see why it took him so long to
grow up. He couldn't see why his family had to nag him
There's many a chuckle and perhaps a
ringing laugh or two in this delightful story
of the comedy and tragedy of growing up
Illustrated by W. E. Heitland
all the time, either. And he couldn't see why the Pooch
couldn't slicker something his own age instead of being
chawed up by every dog in the block, to say nothing of
having been twice reduced to utter subjection by the
neighbor's cat.
He had asked his dad about this, and his dad had said:
"That's the way with an Airedale pup, Peter. He grows
up slowly. He'll take one beating after another patiently,
and then some day he'll come to all at once, and he'll make
the rounds of the block and clean up on every dog that
ever slickered him."
This was a nice idea, and Peter had watched the Pooch
hopefully for signs of its fulfilment, but nothing had hap-
pened. His feet were enormous, and he was perpetually
in everybody's way. His mother was always saying,
"Peter, take that animal off my oriental rug." His sister
was always saying, "I don't see why we didn't buy a
Pekinese instead of that big mut." Even his dad had
said, "Peter, you better call your dog. There's a new
kitten down the street, and he's likely to get hurt."
HE found his cap on the hall table and started off. He
cut through a vacant lot, and when he saw old Mrs.
Pettibone coming, he tried to duck behind a hedge but
she saw him.
"Why, Peter Cooper," exclaimed old Mrs. Pettibone,
Seeing his first fight, Sally cried
proudly, "Hit him hard, Peter!"
"how you've grown! I never would have known you.
The last time I saw you, you were just a little shaver.
You haven't forgotten your Auntie Pettibone, have you?"
"No." He hoped she'd have a hemorrhage!
"Come to see me some time, Peter. I love to have boys
"YES 'um." Then he went on dismally. There were
some stores at the corner, and he looked at his reflec-
tion covertly in the plate-glass windows. It seemed to
him that he must look as tall as a telephone pole with a
head stuck on top. And it seemed to him that if you
looked closely enough you could see his ribs sticking out
under his shirt.
At the corner drug store some boys were hanging
around the soda fountain where Miss Tillie Young was
employed. All the very young men in town had a smite
on her. Of course she didn't go to the same dances or
anything, and her mother didn't know your mother, but
secretly Peter thought she was pretty slick, and he wished
that he could drop in there and call for a chocolate malt,
and sit on the stool and kid her along, while Miss Tillie
Young leaned over the counter on her plump elbows and
smiled at him.
He proceeded slowly, and when he was almost at school,
he saw Sally Dutton waiting for him. (Turn to page 118)

Go up to Top of Page