JULY 7, 1945
HYDE PARK, Friday—I have a letter from Dr. Williams, the superintendent of the New York Training School for Boys at Warwick, in response to certain points I raised in a recent column. He tells me that the carpenter shop was kept working there during the school year by dint of collecting lumber from army camps and anywhere else in the vicinity where it could be found. At present, Dr. Williams went on, the boys have volunteered to increase the food supply by planting and harvesting vegetables, and already 1,100 gallons of spinach and Swiss chard have been canned for use next winter.
Dr. Williams also suggests that the art class is used for its therapeutic value more than I was given to understand, and that there may be more boys included; but on this point he sounds somewhat vague to me. Concerning music and group singing, he says they have been unable to get anyone to act as instructor, since their former music instructor has had to take the position of director of recreation for the institution. I wonder if, by chance, any of the salaries could be too low to attract the type of person who could handle boys of these ages, with their various and difficult backgrounds.
* * *
Dr. Williams also says, I am glad to report, that two baths a week are required, winter and summer, and the boys must put on clean clothes. When they are doing work during the day which soils their clothing and body, they are expected to bathe; and during the summer each boy is scheduled for three swim periods in the lake every week. "We have really rather prided ourselves," Dr. Williams writes, "on teaching the boys the importance of cleanliness."
I knew about the swimming schedules because I saw them marked up on a bulletin board, and the boys themselves told me that the activity they enjoyed most was the opportunity to swim. I had also heard that Dr. Williams had contrived a good place for them to swim, but it might be wise for the people in charge of the cottages to know a little more accurately what the regulations really are.
Dr. Williams is a man of experience and fine ideals. I am not quite sure, however, that what he thinks is done is really done, since a good deal of the actual disciplining and running of the school must, of necessity, be left to other people.
* * *
Here at home, our family of children grows. We have five around the place today, ranging from two to eleven in age. Our most independent character is a three-year old who thinks nothing of deciding to walk by himself from one cottage to the other, three quarters of a mile through the woods, up a steep hill. He seems quite amazed when anyone goes to look for him, and acts a little bit the way Fala does when that little dog runs away to hunt in the swamps. With Fala, I call futilely for a long time, and after I go home in disgust he comes serenely trotting down the road, looking to right and left as much as to say: "Look at me, I have been on an adventure all alone!"