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Klobber Your Kids

A couple of years or more ago, I was alerted to an e-mailing list started by a Canadian fellow enamored of artwork from the heyday of Illustration. Lamenting the passing of an era, Leif Peng, author of Today’s Inspiration blog, scans old-but-fantastic magazine illustrations and sends them out to his subscribers (free), usually including a story about the artist. He is quite the historian.

Today, he sent out this whimsical illustration with only the first page of the 2-page article scanned. I read as far as I could, then asked him if, by chance, he had the rest of the article.

He obliged with a new scan, and mailed it to me with a note of amusement that I was not the only one who had requested to read the rest.

Here is the article in its entirety:

From Coronet Magazine, December 1953

Klobber Your Kids

NOT LONG AGO, Bennett Cerf, noted humorist and literary columnist of the Saturday Review, got a letter from the equally renowned theatrical playwright, Moss Hart. Mr. Cerf thought so highly of the letter that he printed it in his column, thus starting a controversy in many American homes. CORONET, with thanks to Messrs. Cerf and Hart, and the Saturday Review, is happy to reprint the letter here. — THE EDITORS.

Dear Bennett:

Do you remember, one lovely starlit evening on the desert a few weeks ago, our discussing with a good deal of parental acrimony the proper method of bringing up children? That usually discerning and extremely wise lady, your wife, disagreed somewhat haughtily with the method we use in our house, but I thought you showed unusual interest in our experiment and silently longed to apply it yourself, so I pass it on to you and to any other frantic and harassed parents who, like ourselves, were about ready for the booby-hatch until The Klobber Method came into our household.

The Klobber Method was invented by Ernest J. Klobber, a Viennese psychiatrist who, at the time of the discovery of the method which was to bear his name, was a staunch believer in the modern and accepted formula for rearing children. Give them a reason for everything — watch out for traumas — plenty of love and security — and never a harsh word.

So great an exponent of this formula was Professor Klobber that, at the time of his discovery, ‘the Professor, who had six children of his own, was about to be carted off to a sanitarium in a state of nervous collapse a condition any modern parent will understand at once. As the hapless Professor was being carried out of the house on a stretcher, one of the children aimed a kick at it which, with unerring childlike aim, landed exactly where it was meant to land.

The Professor, though thoroughly used to being kicked by his children, was under mild sedation at the time, and it may have been this that caused a curious reflex action on his part. Bringing his arm up from the stretcher, he brought his hand down with a good sharp crack on the child’s head.

The effect
on the Professor
was startling
There was an anguished howl from the child — first time in its life no reason had been given for an action — but the effect on the Professor was startling. He leaped up from the stretcher and gave each of the other five kiddies in turn a good smart crack over the head — a Klobber, as he afterward termed it — and never went near the sanitarium. Instead, in suddenly excellent spirits and health, he began to develop The Klobber Method.

No reason was given for anything. “No” meant “no” and “yes” meant “yes,” and, trauma or no trauma, at the first hint of an argument the children got a Klobber, and life, for the Professor and his good wife, was livable for the first time since the patter of little feet had thundered through the house.

Like all great discoveries, however, The Klobber Method met with furious opposition on the part of leading educators and progressive parent organizations, and it was not until a refinement of The Method was suggested by an imaginative assistant of the Professor’s that it began to meet with popular, if necessarily secretive, approval.

The Professor’s assistant, one Heinrich Klonk, suggested that since a good Klobber usually left a telltale lump — a short sideswipe, or a Klonk, would do the trick just as well, and to hell with PTA’s and the like.

Heinrich Klonk is one of the unsung heroes of our time for, though he gets small credit for The Klobber Method, his little refinement worked like a charm, and the word “Klonk” echoes through thousands of peaceful homes like a balm.

The charm of the method is its utter simplicity. In place of long hours of dreary explanation that Daddy cannot work if junior bangs on the radiator, and if Daddy cannot work and make money, how will we go to the circus; in place of that tortured quiet between husband and wife in the long night hours as to which one warped the childish id by refusing to allow the hotfoot to be applied to Uncle Robert; in place of all that just “Klonk!” — and serenity reigns.

It is the greatest invention since the wheel, my dear fellow, and as your wife seems to object to it, try it on her first, instead of the children, and let me know the results. I’ll still be out here, three thousand miles away — but I’d like to know what happens.

Ever yours,

Moss Hart


  1. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. It is always great pleasure to read your posts.

  2. ‘Klobber’ banner art by Roy Doty —

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