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Scholastic Editor Still Brings the World to Teens in U.S.

December 11, 1987|PATRICIA McCORMACK | United Press International

NEW YORK — Cigar-smoking Jack Lippert, 85 and the first editor of a skinny school news magazine that started in 1937, claims children haven't changed all that much over the last 50 years.

They still like to know the latest about world and national happenings and inventions, according to Lippert, who turned out the first issue of Junior Scholastic.

And he claims they still break up over the same kinds of jokes that tickled ribs of kids in grades 6 through 9 when he took charge.

Lippert cited some jokes from the humor page of the first issue, saying they are just as appealing to today's readers as they were long ago, in his estimation.

Here's a sample:

Baby Ear of Corn: "Mama, where did I come from?"

Mamma Ear of Corn: "Hush, dear. The stalk brought you."

Still Advises

Lippert wore the editor hat for a long time and then became a consultant. He still goes to work and isn't bashful about putting in two cents' worth of advice.

In the 50th anniversary issue of JS, he telescopes a half-century of reports to children. From senior citizens to today's 12-year-olds, Scholastic Inc. estimates that 125 million around the nation have had encounters with Junior Scholastic.

Currently, there are 3 million readers in grades 6 through 9.

"If you were to read all the past 1,364 issues, you would be well-prepared for a history test on the United States and the world, from the Great Depression to today," Lippert says.

When the magazine started, America was still trying to recover from the Great Depression.

Junior Scholastic reports:

"People didn't have much money. Movies played a big part of teen-agers' lives. A '30s teen-ager recalled: 'Real lives were drab; movies were the only bit of glamour. A movie ticket cost a dime, but many teens didn't have money for movies. They stayed home a lot and had regular dates to listen to the radio.' "

Most Significant Events

Lippert cites what he considers the most significant events recorded in the pages of JS since 1937. They include:

--World War II. "The outbreak of World War II in 1939 overshadowed all other events. It killed more people and caused more damage than any war in history. Fighting raged in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The war ended in 1945, when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, opening the Nuclear Age."

--Communications changed the world. "In the late 1940s, television entered U.S. homes, changing the way we live and see the world. Communications satellites were first launched in the 1960s, speeding worldwide communications. The computer revolutionized the processing of information."

--Equal rights for blacks. "In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black major league baseball player. Then, in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. In the years that followed, blacks organized bus boycotts, sit-ins, and protest marches to gain equal rights under the law. Laws were passed in the 1960s guaranteeing voting and other civil rights for blacks. But laws have not ended discrimination."

--Faster transportation. "In the 1930s, it took almost a week to drive from New York to Los Angeles. The interstate highway system, begun in the 1950s, has cut that time in half. Jet planes have made air travel faster and cheaper."

--Space exploration. "The Soviet Union startled the world in 1957 by orbiting Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite. In 1961, the Soviets put the first man into space. The United States followed in 1962, and landed men on the moon in 1969. Since then, the space shuttle and unmanned probes to the planets have increased our knowledge of space. Next, a manned landing on Mars?"

--Changing role of women. "In 1937, most mothers did not work outside the home. Today that has changed. Women now hold almost every kind of job, although inequalities remain. In the 1970s, women's rights supporters failed to win passage of an equal rights amendment."

--Medicine and health. The discovery of a polio vaccine in 1955 ended a frightening epidemic that had crippled thousands. Other medical advances have improved health and longevity. But the race to find a cure to end the deadly AIDS epidemic goes on."

In typical Junior Scholastic fashion, Lippert ends his account by getting kids to do some thinking on their own, telling them:

"And that's not all. Many other things happened or changed in the last 50 years. What can you add to our list?"

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