APRIL 24, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—The world is so full of anxiety these days that sometimes it may be well to leave the things we can do nothing about, in world affairs, and look at something we might find useful or amusing in everyday life.
This something I found in the mail when I reached Hyde Park Friday evening. It is a revised edition of a little book I mentioned a long time ago when it was first published, in 1938. I think I am enjoying it even more now than I did then. It is called "Living Grammar," and is written by Winifred Watson, a teacher in the St. Paul public schools, and Julius M. Nolte, dean of University Extension, University of Minnesota. Since the illustrations are what amused me most, I should mention that they are done by Eleanor Lewis.
The book grew out of a sense of dismay at the poor showing often made by high school and college students in their own English grammar. To quote from the preface, "One engaging a journeyman carpenter may have no right to expect the latter to be a proficient joiner or cabinet maker, but at least he has a right to expect his employee to know how to use hammer, saw and plane. Our high school students and college freshmen—journeymen in grammar—lack precisely the hammer-saw-plane technique."
The approach taken in the book is more to the mind of a child. But I think all of us have something of the child in us, and reading this booklet is quite the most delightful method I have found of learning grammar or of reviving the grammar we once knew and have forgotten. At the end there are even games suggested which might be most entertaining for both children and grown-ups.
I also found in my mail a rather delightful little pamphlet from Los Angeles, called "Jewish Dances." It has a foreword by Ruth Zahava, who is responsible for bringing together folk melodies and dances. These are the artistic expression of the life and spirit of Jews, and touch closely their daily lives and customs. I found it both charming and fascinating reading.
Finally there is a new collection of Edwin Markham's poems, collected and arranged by Charles L. Wallace. I believe all of us should occasionally sit down and read our own poets, especially those who reflect the spirit of the United States. Two of Markham's little verses deserve, I think, to be read often. They go:
That in the human plan
Nothing is worth the making if
It does not make the man.
If man unbuilded goes?
In vain we build the world, unless
The builder also grows."
In this particular period when the American citizen has to grow so rapidly, those lines, written some time ago, should be learned by every child.