success have doctors and psychologists been able to predict with any certainty which little boy will grow up to become a public enemy. The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM III-Revised, has nothing to say, for instance, about what to watch out for if youâre worried your kid is in danger of becoming a drug smuggler. The âincipient criminality factorsâ detailed in the DSM are given to such generality as to forecast that a rascal like Tom Sawyer would emerge perforce as a serious menace to society.
Whatever the litmus test, little Georgie Jung scored very low when it came to committing the standard predictive acts: He showed no outstanding propensity for lying in his early years, or for stealing, playing hooky, vandalizing property, getting into fights, lighting fires, running away from home, or torturing helpless animals. At about age five he did purloin a neighborâs pet hamster to provide it the benefits of living in his own room, a move his father countered by getting a policeman friend to show up in uniform at the front door and scare George into taking it back. And he certainly was devilish enough to keep his mother on the run, chasing him about the house and poking for him with a broomstick when heâd wriggle under a bed to avoid his comeuppance. There are no reports from family members about any capital transgression on Georgeâs part. He received an honorable discharge after three years with the Cub Scouts. He dependably served the Quincy Patriot Ledger on his route every day after school, winging the papers with his left-hand sidearm pitch up onto the porches. He went sailing on the Fore River with Malcolm MacGregor in a little boat they kept moored down in back of the Circle. He dug for clams at Wessagussett Beach to earn spending money. A photograph of him in grade school shows a little boy with a carefully combed shock of hair sticking upright over his forehead, and a wide, impish grin that to one relative, at least, proved memorably disarming. âAs a little boy he was a perfect charmer,â Auntie Gertrude remembers. âHe was reallyâwhat can I say?âhe could just steal your heart away.â
Were he enrolled in elementary school today, his parents might have been counseled to look at the possibility of dyslexia as a factor in his having to repeat the first grade because of reading problems, or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as an explanation for his general behavior. Little Georgie certainly appears to have been full-blown hyperactive, at times difficult to control, even subject to fits and explosions of temper, to the point where his mother once felt the need to consult the family doctor. His advice was to stick the boyâs head under a faucet the next time he had an outburst. George still remembers with some annoyance the series of duckings forced on him after that consultation.
By the time George was entering adolescence, his parents were having serious marital problems. These usually didnât evince themselves to George until theyâd reached an extreme stage, when Ermine would pack up her suitcase and leave home. George remembers her walking down to the bottom of the hill to get the bus for Quincy, and from there the train into Boston. He would follow her down the hill and stand across from the bus stop by the ministerâs house shouting out to her to come back. âI didnât want her to leave, but I didnât know how to stop her, so I threw rocks at her,â he says. âNot really rocks, they were stones. But I didnât know what else to do to make her stay.â On these occasions Ermine would stay with her mother, who lived on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, or go down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where her brother, Jack OâNeill, owned a string of music stores. During one of his motherâs absences, George lived for several months at the house in Melrose with
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