SEPTEMBER 23, 1942
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—On the train from New York City to Philadelphia yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasant experience of meeting Mr. Eddie Dowling, who was opening one of his shows there last night. He rescued me by carrying my bag off the train, for I was surrounded by some highly enthusiastic boys on their way back to their various camps. They can never see why one hasn't the time to give an autograph to everyone in the group, but unfortunately trains do not wait while you sign your name.
At 6:00 o'clock I reached "Youth City" and was at once taken for a tour of the Negro slums. As in almost every other big city, the low income group, in which a great many Negroes find themselves in Philadelphia, suffer from poor housing. It was a joy to see the new housing built on eight city blocks which once were slums.
Today they are occupied by many of the same people and are clean and well kept. When they have time to do some landscaping, the whole project will be very attractive. Afterwards we returned to "Youth City," an old nightclub now turned into a community center. Most of the work there is done by the boys themselves.
This group elects a mayor and all the city officials, including judge and police, in much the same way that Father Flanagan organizes his Boys' Town. The real police cooperate with them. When juvenile delinquents are found in the area, they are brought in to be judged by their own judges. Much of the work in "Youth City" has been done by youngsters working out their sentences. The situation as regards juvenile crimes among boys and girls in the neighborhood, both colored and white, has vastly improved.
The community house staff organizes basketball teams, table tennis games, etc.; in fact, they keep the young people busy out of school hours and after work hours. In addition, these boys and girls are learning to be good citizens instead of destructive hoodlums.
Many of the boys are now in the services, but they write back to their director, Mr. Samuel Evans, who has been apparently the strongest influence in making this a valuable community project. None of the staff working in "Youth City" receives a salary. They earn their living elsewhere, but they give much of their time to the work.
Miss Ella Gowan Hood met me with Mr. Evans. Mr. Jack Kelly presided at the dinner. Judge and Mrs. Curtis Bok were there, and many other Philadelphia acquaintances of mine who have taken a keen interest in this work. I caught the evening plane back to Washington and was home in time to do the day's mail before going to bed.