My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Wednesday—At last, after two unsuccessful attempts, we actually held the picnic for the boys of Wiltwyck School here yesterday. The other two times I postponed the outing because of gray skies in the morning. Each time it cleared up by noon but by that time I had called off the picnic and given up all thought of having the boys come over.

So yesterday I decided that in spite of gray skies we would hold the picnic even if it turned out that I had to take them all indoors afterwards. I had no guests in my guest cottage and was prepared if necessary, to have the boys sit on the living room floor and eat their picnic lunch. The weather was kind, however. It stayed overcast but it was really a good day for picnicking.

Less than a hundred people managed to eat 300 hot dogs and everything else in proportion, so the boys were so well filled that they were willing to sit down around me and listen to two Rudyard Kipling stories. They loved them both, but I think "How the Whale Got His Throat" was the more amusing one. Kipling was clever in his use of words that were alliterative, which always catches the ear of children.

We played games until everybody had won a comic book and a bag of candy and then the youngsters left, all shaking me by the hand and saying thank you for a good time. This never ceases to strike me as remarkable when I think of how I have to remind my own grandchildren to have good manners enough to do this.

One little boy handed me a poem that he had written. He is not yet 12 years old and you can see the poetry is not of the best and the spelling is not perfect. Nevertheless, I think it gives an idea of what a boy learns at this school and so I reproduce it here.

WILTWYCK IS FOR ME

When I was home I used to rome,
With a guy his name is Tyronne,
We used to steal and do things like that
Until I got caught and felt like a rat.
I soon found out Tyronne got away
So I had to come to Wiltwyck I thought to stay.
But I found out when I started to run away
That Wiltwyck School can make you happy and gay.
When I got to Wiltwyck I saw all the boys
Playing games and with lots of toys,
I didn't see no gates miles around
I soon found out I was in Esopus town,
And then I knew Wiltwyck was for me.
We had our activity from ten to three,
We will be going to Mrs. Roosevelt's house soon,
It is a nice place I presume.
I miss my parents I will say
But I don't want to leave Wiltwyck I would like to stay,
And so I would like to end my storie
Because I am tired and sleepy
So don't try to be bad or your life will always be sad.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL