JUNE 29, 1955
HYDE PARK—Helen Keller was 75 years old on June 27 and everybody joins all over the country and in many other countries of the world in wishing her well.
I am a little late in adding my good wishes publicly to those of other people but I must say a word of appreciation not only for the wonderful work which Helen Keller has done but for the extraordinary human being she is to have risen over so many difficulties and to have managed, despite those difficulties, to help innumerable other people handicapped in a similar way.
She is the prize example of what it means to seize every opportunity that comes your way and use it to the best advantage.
At 74 Miss Keller toured the world, hoping to improve conditions for the blind and deaf in many countries. She attracted so much attention and has such a persuasive personality that I feel certain that great results will come from this trip.
Now she is home, and I have already received the galleys of a book she is about to publish. Her accomplishments would be great if she had no handicaps. So, with her difficulties, one must marvel at her achievements and be glad of an opportunity to pay her homage and to repeat how warmly and affectionately one always thinks of her.
I am in receipt of some facts about the fight to preserve Carnegie Hall, in New York City, which I think perhaps the public should be made aware of.
This is one of the few landmarks of the musical world in New York. Real estate interests have offered $4,500,000 to Robert Simon Jr., chairman of Carnegie's board of stockholders, because they want to raze Carnegie Hall and build a hotel.
Carnegie Hall pays its way at present, but its board of stockholders evidently would like a more lucrative return. In this dilemma the Committee to Save Carnegie Hall must raise within 10 days $50,000 to save the building. The chairman of this committee is John J. Totten, and Lawrence Tibbett is chairman of the Executive Committee. Mr. Simon has agreed to sell the building for $4,200,000 to the organized group headed by these two chairmen.
Carnegie Hall has the finest acoustics in America, perhaps in the world, and sound engineering is not such an exact science that one can be sure of duplicating these acoustics.
Since 1892 the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra has used Carnegie Hall but it does not have the money to buy the building and feels, therefore, that it can take no open stand on this issue.
Of course, to really save Carnegie Hall will mean the mobilization of the community as a whole, which must show that it cares about music and cares also about having some continuity of tradition. There will have to be a voluntary organization of cultural organizations, of unions, of community groups as well as big donations by generous people who care for music.
The city itself also should take action, for Carnegie's existence really touches the life of the city.