[What are the aims, the experiences, and the perplexities of the Post-War Generation? The ATLANTICintends to find out. Space has been reserved for the best letters written by men and women under thirty. The letters should, if possible, be compassed within 650 words, and those published will be paid for. Under special circumstances, anonymity will be preserved. —THE EDITOR]


Marina Cay, Tortola British Virgin Islands
To the Editor of the Atlantic:
At twenty-nine I seem almost forced to apologize for being happy, for having at least a degree of security, for looking forward with pleasure toward the rest of my life.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it took a long time to get the necessary freedom. At the Naval Academy (class of ‘31) academics allowed none, and on resignation I started as a draftsman for Du Pont in Cleveland,
There I started writing, at night, and discovered that I had an urgent desire and no talent. Too, I never considered my job as a stopgap — at least I was soon sent to oversee construction from my plates. This reward stopped writing, for I was taken out of the drafting room and put in charge of a construction project in Pennsylvania. On that job the day could last from eight to thirty-six hours; there was always a night shift to check, and no time for writing.
But just as the construction ended I sold my first story for a hundred dollars and looked forward to going back to drafting and its free nights. Instead the boss offered me a raise and another construction job in Chicago. I resigned.
I haven’t a grasshopper complex — I just want to be a writer. With six hundred dollars I got married and went to find freedom. The British Virgin Islands seemed to offer the most for the least money; it was warm there, but not tropically humid, food and shelter were cheap, and clothes would be a small item.
For six months we suffered on Tortola in a native village with mosquitoes, sand flies, hogs, and neighbors almost unbearable. Then we got a break — a small, uninhabited island with a perfect harbor, sandy beach, and no insects, no neighbors within two miles. We bought it for sixty dollars and built an open sixteen-by-eight-foot shed, and set up housekeeping. A vegetable garden flourished in the virgin soil, our fish trap kept us well supplied. I had freedom and used it.
Luck held — a book of ours won a $250 prize, another brought a small advance. We had enough money to buy materials for a proper house. With cement and lumber piled roof-high in the shed, we cleared a site of rocks and excavated for a cistern and foundations. Too poor to hire masons or carpenters, we began building concrete forms, mixing and pouring. We planed rough wood into rafters, planked the roof, and put on the galvanized iron. It took six months, and with a dim hurricane lantern, the typewriter on cement bags, we kept on writing — and selling a little.
When the house was finished I was twenty-eight, my wife twenty-four; our income that year was $816; we owed no money, had borrowed none. We had shelter from even hurricanes, our garden gave us vegetables steadily, and fish, lobsters, fruit, were free. Four books had been published, a fifth accepted. We had weathered the depressions without bitterness — in fact with great happiness.
Now — in a month — I’ll be thirty. This once deserted little cay has become beautiful because we love it and work hard for it. Gradually we’ve acquired ice, a radio, electricity, plumbing; now at thirty we’re ready to tackle two more of our problems: writing and children. We want to earn enough money to give us a full year of writing only what we think is good — nothing else. And we want children to share all this land and sea and sunshine.
We have grown, too; our marriage now is very solid; everything we have — from ambitions to the tiller of our sailboat — is equally shared. We are happy, we are going forward — the years ahead
look splendid to us.


Hillingdon, Middlesex, England
To the Editor of the Atlantic:
I am an English youth, not yet nineteen, of limited means, but as I work in a London advertising agency I am fortunate enough to have access to most of your great American magazines and a few of your newspapers. Thus I have some idea of your attitude towards world affairs, and it occurs to me, having just read the latest Atlantic Monthly, that my opinions, as a typical young manin-the-street, may be of interest to you.
Yesterday I went to Waterloo to cheer Their Majesties the King and Queen as they left on the first stage of their journey to Canada and the U. S. A., and in company with millions of others, some lining the royal route, and many more by their radio sets, I felt that this historic journey would cement the already unshakable friendship between our two nations. Our King and Queen are very dear to us all over here, and it is a strong sign of the faith we have in you that we feel not the slightest fear for their safety as we watch them go.
The attitude of the English men and women towards foreign affairs has changed drastically in the last few months. Our motto last September during those ghastly weeks of crisis was peace at any price: let Hitler have Sudetenland, let him have anything he wants, but don’t let’s fight him. It is very different now; the anti-German — or perhaps I should say ‘anti-Hit-and-Muss’ — feeling is running so high in this country that the government has been forced to introduce conscription to satisfy the people. That statement should not be misunderstood. No one in England wants war, but no one is now prepared to pay any price for peace. The dictators must be stopped, and if they lack the good sense to apply the brake themselves, the democracies will do it for them.
I have said that to satisfy the people the government has been forced to introduce conscription. That is so, and although the strong opposition of the socialist spokesmen might give a different impression, practically everyone in Britain, including eligible conscripts and the average socialist, strongly supports the moderate measure of military training that every fit young man of twenty must undergo. Six months’ discipline with good plain food, regular hours, and plenty of physical training will improve the health of the body and mind, and send one back fresh and fit to the regular job that is waiting.
Having read my previous paragraphs, you may have got the impression that the possibility of war is the only thing that anybody ever thinks about in England. This is, of course, entirely wrong, as anyone would realize if he had seen the great crowds flocking to Wembley yesterday from all over the country for the Rugby League Cup Final, or the even greater crowds who watched the Association Football Cup Final at the same stadium a week earlier.
Playing or watching games is the Englishman’s greatest pleasure, and woe betide anyone who tries to stop him.


Pomona, California
To the Editor of the Atlantic:
When I graduated from high school six years ago we were in the midst of the depression. Not being able to find work, I bought a small bakery and delicatessen. The location was very poor, and the business was worse. Some time afterwards a traveling man who called upon us asked if we could buy from the ranchers enough walnut meats to supply his company with a hundred pounds a week. I put a sign in front of the shop, and it was not long before we had more than enough to supply his firm.
We went to Los Angeles to find a market for the oversupply. On finding that there was unlimited demand for walnut meats we then began to advertise in newspapers throughout Southern California wherever walnuts were raised. It was only a season until we bought so many we needed larger quarters. By that time we were able to sell out our bakery-delicatessen business, and we devoted our time exclusively to buying, grading, and wholesaling walnut meats. We toured the countryside and neighboring communities leaving thousands of business cards. In this manner we were able to make customers by calling upon them personally.
By making friends with our customers we found they would come for miles to sell us their entire crop. This is our fourth season, and we are buying and wholesaling walnut meats by the tons. Previously walnuts were mostly sold in the shell to the Walnut Growers’ Association. At that time there was little outlet in our community for cracked nuts. But now ranchers who have time on their hands, wishing to make more money out of their walnuts, are cracking them. All the nut meats we buy are cracked by hand by thousands of ranchers.
I mention this not because credit is due me, but because it demonstrates in practical fashion how a person ‘under thirty’ can overnight strike upon an idea, and, if it is worth while, develop that idea into a business which can be expanded almost without limit.
But this is not the climax. The story has only begun. When an individual is trying to develop a new business he must devote hours of study to marketing, advertising, and so forth, because a business cannot take care of itself. This is where so many of us ‘under thirty’ fail. We wish to amount to a great deal, but we are not willing to pay the price. If we are business men and remain mediocre it is because we are not continually on the lookout to improve our business management.
In June there were millions of young people turned out of high schools and colleges without immediate work. Let them not become discouraged. If they cannot find a fifteen-dollar-a-week job they may do even better. They may strike upon an idea. It may at first seem foolish because it is new. But if they find there is a demand for what they have in mind, they need not fear. Their idea may make them a fortune.