JANUARY 13, 1959
ANDERSON, Ind.—I arrived here by plane on Saturday, my first stop on a trip for the American Association for the United Nations, and I hope in the number of states we visit that we find vigorous expansion in the various chapters of the AAUN. I hope, too, that we find many new chapters to spread information about the United Nations and thereby prepare us better for our position in the world.
Just before leaving New York I received some information about an organization that was little known to me before. It is called Variety Clubs International, and the group this year is marking its first Variety Week, which is currently running from January 12 to 18.
Variety Clubs International came into being because of a very small, but touching, incident. A baby was left in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Sheraton Square Theatre, with the following note attached: "Please take care of my baby. Her name is Catherine. I can no longer take care of her. I have eight others. My husband is out of work. I have always heard of the goodness of show business and I pray to God you will look out for her. A heart-broken mother."
The local Variety Club adopted the baby. Others followed, and gradually the idea spread throughout the country and into Mexico and Canada and to London and Dublin.
The various Variety Clubs are made up of show people of every description, and they have adopted circus phrases to describe the various facets of their organization. For instance, a call for help is sent out as "Hey, Rube!" Each club president is called the chief Barker. Each treasurer is called the Dough Guy. And all the clubs combined are referred to as the Circus.
Since it began the organization has raised $75,000,000 and in 1958 it pledged a total of $2,519,000 for the various activities supported by the various member clubs.
The organization gives an annual humanitarian award—a gift of $2000 and a silver plaque—to someone who has rendered conspicuous service toward mankind's betterment, and the members don't even choose the recipients. A committee of editors, publishers and college presidents participate in this choice.
The objective of Variety Clubs International is, of course, to make life happier for unhappy children wherever they may find them, and it surely has chalked up a great many successes. Certainly, the organization commands the respect of the public and deserves greater knowledge and support for the activities that it carries out.
Another very interesting enterprise has just been called to my attention. This is called International School of America.
This is a nonprofit school, chartered by the State of New York, and its pupils travel around the world while they study. For this first year of its existence the school has enrolled only 35 girls, and the majority of them are paying students.
The cost for this kind of education runs around $4,450 per student for eight months, but the variety of experience and the possibility of bringing history and literature close to the students and of seeing firsthand much of the art of the world is in itself a very great education.
A few scholarships have already been given and I understand the school also will get one from the AAUN as a prize in its annual United Nations High School Contest. Trustees of the school come from many different professions in life, and they all seem to feel that this new venture has real value for the future of the students.