DECEMBER 22, 1959
NEW YORK—We had a very interesting meeting of the Citizens Committee for Children the other day, during which the whole sad story of the city's slow progress in meeting the increased needs of neglected and abandoned children, as well as delinquents, came out in certain reports.
For instance, because there has been so much delay in acquiring a new installation, one report revealed, 65 children have been sleeping on cots in a gymnasium where there are no windows. The cots must be folded up in the daytime to make the space available for play. So, the children have no place to keep their clothes, which are, therefore, thrown on the floor of a closet in an untidy heap. These children have absolutely no place to call their own.
This condition shocked the people who visited this particular city shelter, the report went on, and they pushed for immediate action on the new building. Whereupon a new difficulty arose. They discovered that there would be no beds and no dressers for the children even when the new building is ready for occupancy.
This was too much for two of the women members of the group investigating the situation, and they, themselves, promptly decided to find beds and dressers.
Such action as this, however, is bad procedure, because the responsibility is the city's. Sure, these people mean well, and to put out the fire before the house burns down is commendable, but I sincerely hope we are not going to be content with such action. I hope we are going to try to do something about the causes that bring about these overcrowded, poorly staffed, and really dangerous situations for children.
As I looked around at the people at our board meeting, I couldn't help thinking that there are other groups such as this one being helped constantly by private organizations in New York City. And such should not be the case.
If these charitable organizations could get together on a nonpartisan basis and put some of their effort into political reform action we might have a force for good that has never before been mobilized. These are nonpartisan problems, and those of us who sit on boards and make representations to the government of the city might very well consider joint action with other groups interested in other phases of the city government. In this way we could hope to get at the roots of some of our troubles and not be forced always to treat the end results.
We had the great good fortune last Friday night to hear the Swedish soprano, Birgit Nilsson, in her first performance at the Metropolitan Opera House, here. It was a memorable evening.
Miss Nilsson not only has a beautiful voice, but she is a great actress as well. She is being compared to Kirsten Flagstad, but comparisons for me are always very difficult.
Her Isolde in the Met's new production of "Tristan and Isolde" was a truly outstanding performance, and the audience was as appreciative as as any knowing New York audience can be. It withheld its applause until the end of each act, and at those points the ovation was tremendous. I'm sure there always will be a full audience at the Metropolitan whenever Miss Nilsson performs.