“Well, it’s easy,” I says. “All yuh need is a little confidence. Duh way I loined, me older bruddeh pitched me off duh dock one day when I was eight yeahs old, cloes an’ all. ‘You’ll swim,’ he says. ‘You’ll swim all right—or drown.’ An’, believe me, I swam! When yuh know yuh got to, you’ll do it. Duh only t’ing yuh need is confidence. An’ once you’ve loined,” I says, “you’ve got nuttin’ else to worry about. You’ll neveh forgit it. It’s somp’n dat stays with yuh as long as yuh live.”
Above is an excerpt from ONLY THE DEAD KNOW BROOKLYN by Thomas Wolfe, published in the June 15, 1935 issue of The New Yorker.
It could have been Marash Girl's father Peter writing this tale . . . except he would have been speaking in the perfect English of the streets of Brighton (Massachusetts), not Brooklyn (New York).
Marash Girl's guess is the sink or swim philosophy worked until it didn't, in which case, hopefully, the pals would jump in and save their floundering friend. At least Marash Girl prays that they would!
N.B. Most Armenian kids coming from Marash did not know how to swim, either because there were no ponds readily available for swimming, or because their parents feared for their children's lives. Marash Girl does know that Marash Boy's mom forbid him to go swimming . . . for that very reason.