'Must reads' from the past

What do you baby boomers recall reading in high school English class years ago? Here are excerpts from a typical required-reading list from the 1960s. How many of these classics do you recognize?

1. I walked down the aisle past the rows of lockers, and instead of turning left toward the exit leading back to my dormitory, I turned right and followed the Army Air Force out onto the playing fields of Devon.... I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it. My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless. Phineas had absorbed it and taken it with him, and I was rid of it forever.

2. [The hole] had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with paneled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the h _ _ _ _ _ was fond of visitors.

3. Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time. I never once saw a horse anywhere near the place.

4. We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word "water," first slowly, then rapidly.... That living word awakened my soul ... set it free!


(1) 'A Separate Peace,' by John Knowles (1959); (2) 'The Hobbitt,' by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937); (3) 'The Catcher in the Rye,' by J.D. Salinger (1951); (3) 'The Story of My Life,' by Helen Keller (1902).

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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