My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Thursday—As I said yesterday, the shops at the Warwick State Training School for Boys are very beautifully equipped, and the boys who work in them were enthusiastic about the possibilities of learning a trade. But one of our party, who looked in at the carpenter shop, said it appeared as though it was not often used. On inquiry, we found that at present there was difficulty in getting materials for the boys to work with.

I could not help thinking of a camp for convalescent soldiers which I saw in a valley somewhere in New Caledonia. Two young Red Cross workers were teaching handicrafts. Materials to work with were scarce, probably somewhat scarcer than in Warwick, N. Y. at the present time. But the Red Cross workers had taken a little truck and scoured the island; and everyone who wanted to work was at work. I wonder if a similar amount of ingenuity could produce some materials even here in the year 1945?

* * *

We were shown a room in which commercial art was being taught, and were told that about eight boys usually made up the class. Only such boys as showed talent enough to make it probable that they would earn a living at this type of work were allowed to spend here the five hours a day allotted to the project. When we asked whether artistic expression sometimes did not have therapeutic value for boys without special talent, we were told that undoubtedly it had, and even much disturbed children improved when they had the release of artistic expression. Nevertheless, the usual class was eight and it was limited to boys showing real talent.

I inquired whether band music or group singing were a part of the training in the arts, since music and dancing would probably be two of the most popular forms of artistic expression where the percentage of colored boys is so high. I could not find that either one was a part of the training or the recreational program.

* * *

We learned that one bath a week is the rule in the cottages—at least, it is the rule in the one our party visited. I imagine their theory coincides with my grandmother's. When we were children, a Saturday night hot bath was all that was required of us, although we did have to sponge off with cold water every morning. We were fairly active children; but we were not doing eight hours of work, which many of these boys are doing both on the grounds and for farmers in the neighborhood. The boys like the work and, when it is not too heavy, I am sure it is good for them. But I don't see why, in these days, there has to be a rule curtailing baths unless the water supply is low.

Dr. Williams has always seemed to me a charming person, with impeccable theories. Yet I came away with the feeling that someone in authority was showing very little real love and understanding toward the boys. Of course, there are bad boys. But what has made them so? I should like to pursue this further tomorrow.

E. R.

TMs, AERP, FDRL