My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—In Brooklyn yesterday afternoon, the Red Cross held a unique fashion show. They displayed samples of the garments which are being made in Red Cross workrooms. These are given to people in this country when disasters occur, and are also distributed in Europe and Asia. Thousands of layettes, clothes for grown-ups and for children have come out of sewing rooms all over the United States, though the particular garments shown yesterday in Brooklyn were products of the workers in that area.

At the peak of wartime needs, more than 20,000 women in Brooklyn wore Red Cross production uniforms. This show yesterday was an appeal to these women to return to the job of producing clothes for civilian populations, even though the war has come to an end. Such an appeal must be needed in many parts of the country where women feel that the great effort they put forth during the war can now be decreased. The Red Cross is emphasizing that the demands made upon the organization are still very heavy.

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Yesterday afternoon I attended the annual meeting of Wiltwyck School for Boys. We heard again some of the stories which make one feel that there is still much to be done to make our civilization successful.

They told us of one little boy sent to the school who at first was afraid of everything and of everyone. His parents, both of whom drank, did not care about him. His father beat his mother and, if the boy was in sight, he was beaten too. This drove the mother away from home, and the little boy became a waif in the New York City streets, stealing and begging what food and shelter he could and going home only on rare occasions.

Finally, the law caught up with him, and the courts sent him to Wiltwyck. They said that he might be mentally defective and unable to learn since, at the age of 9, he could neither read nor write and did not know how to learn. But after six months at the school, with a great deal of personal attention, he has become an almost normal little boy. He is so excited about his ability to learn that he wants to help anyone else who does not get on as quickly as he does!

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One of the problems brought before us was the fact that sometimes, in spite of the efforts of our social workers, the families of these boys cannot be rehabilitated sufficiently so that the children can return home when they are stabilized. We heard the story of one little boy who, after three years at the school, was sent back to a father who hated him. In a few months, he was re-arrested and the head of Wiltwyck School received a letter from him saying, "Dear Dr. Cooper: I cannot thank you and everyone at Wiltwyck enough for all you did for me, but we knew that I wouldn't be able to manage at home. Yesterday I stole a bicycle so that I could be arrested and taken away again."

It looks as though we should establish foster homes for after-care when the children come back to the community and yet have no real parents to care for them.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL