This essay took Third prize in the Nettleroth Contest. Written by Hunter while he was still in High School. His Louisville Male High School English teacher Harold Tague deemed him "brilliant and unpredictable." Thompson's essays for the Athenaeum Literary Association's bound yearbook, The Spectator, consistently poked fun at the middle-class conformity.
Young people of America, awake from your slumber of indolence and harken the call of the future! Do you realize that you are rapidly becoming a doomed generation? Do you realize that the fate of the world and of generations to come rests on your shoulders? Do you realize that at any time you may be called on to protect your country and the freedom of the world from the creeping scourge of Communism? How can you possibly laugh in the face of the disasters which face us from all sides? Oh ignorant youth, the world is not a joyous place. The time has come for you to dispense with the frivolous pleasures of childhood and get down to honest toil until you are sixty-five. Then and only then can you relax and collect your social security and live happily until the time of your death.
Also, your insolent attitude disturbs me greatly. You have the nerve to say that you have never known what it is like to live in a secure and peaceful world; you say that the present generation has balled things up to the extent that we now face a war so terrible that the very thought of it makes hardened veterans shudder; you say it is our fault that World War II was fought in vain; you say that it is impossible to lay any plans for the future until you are sure you have a future. I say Nonsense! None of these things matter. If you expect a future you must carve it out in the face of these things. You also say that you must wait until after you have served your time with the service to settle down. Ridiculous! It is a man's duty to pull up stakes and serve his country at any time, then settle down again.
I say there is no excuse for a feeling of insecurity on your part; there is no excuse for Juvenile Delinquency; there is no excuse for your attitude except that you are rotten and lazy! I was never like that! I worked hard; I saved; I didn't run around and stay out late at night; I carved out my own future through hard work and virtuous living, and look at me now: a respectable and successful man.
I warn you, if you don't start now it will be too late, and the blame for the end of the world will be laid at your feet. Heed my warning, oh depraved and profligate youth; I say awake, awake, awake!
Fearfully and disgustedly yours,
John J. Righteous-Hypocrite