JUNE 3, 1954
NEW YORK, Wednesday—On Tuesday I took a trip to Princess Anne, Md., to attend the graduation exercises at Maryland State College. I drove from Wilmington, Del.—a 2½ hour drive—and realized again what good farming country is in that area. Delaware, in spite of its great industries, is still largely a rural state, and in Maryland, the Eastern Shore is still a rural area.
Of course, the Eastern Shore is always especially proud of its food and, before I left Princess Anne, I was given a most delicious dinner at the college president's home. The ham was sliced right though the bone—which is a feat I cannot accomplish with most of the hams I buy!
The graduation exercises took place at 4 p.m. on a perfect afternoon. There was a large audience, some of whom had come from distant states to see their young relatives graduate. This is a land-grant college where agriculture, home economics and mechanical arts have a prominent place. The young men and women who graduated have learned skills which will be useful here and also in many parts of the world.
And the young faces looking up at me, I felt, were prepared to meet the challenge of usefulness in this complicated world of ours.
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In June, 1929, the Junior Literary Guild began its work, so June, 1954, is its 25th anniversary. This is a book club for children which has distributed over 10 million books. The guiding hand, the inspiration, and the editor-in-chief during these 25 years has been Helen Ferris.
Those of us who have served on the editorial board of the JLG know that, without the wisdom and discrimination and enthusiasm shown by Miss Ferris, these 25 years would never have gone by so successfully. She has had courage to pioneer. There were problems now and then, and I sometimes think that we on the board may not have been too helpful, though we always tried to be.
The lives of thousands of children have been enriched by belonging to the JLG and by beginning as little children to build a library of their own. There is something especially important, when you are young, in owning your own books. When you are a child, you have time to read and reread until a book becomes your friend and constant companion. I think one of the great pleasures of older people is to share the books of their own childhood with the younger members of their family, or with orphans.
In this month of June, when the 25th anniversary of the JLG is celebrated, I want to congratulate Helen Ferris and hope that her work goes on for many years because of its value to the children of our country.