JULY 2, 1960
HYDE PARK. Friday—I came up here from the city late Wednesday evening to meet my granddaughter, Mrs. Van Seagraves, and her three children who had arrived somewhat earlier in the afternoon for a short visit. We had a thunderstorm in the evening, and Thursday morning we discovered that something had happened to the filtering machinery in our swimming pool. Nevertheless, the children were up bright and early and in the water. The damage is being repaired promptly, however, so nobody's pleasure will be interfered with over the long weekend.
On Thursday, six of us, including the three children, went over to Wiltwyck School, which is a school for delinquent boys at Esopus, N.Y., for the closing exercises of the school year. There were six large buses and many cars up from the city, bringing parents and friends of the boys, which made it a very gay gathering.
As the school is conducted under the New York City school system and taught by New York City teachers—although a private board runs the school and provides some extra help in remedial reading for those who are backward—the exercises were much as they would be in any other public school. When the ceremonies were over I asked if the boys who played the steel drums would play something special for us, and even though the director was away the boys did play and played most creditably and gave us all much enjoyment.
We were all glad we had attended the ceremonies and felt our trip had been worth our time. I was particularly glad to see Mrs. Honi Weiss from the school board, for the boys know her as a friend and are proud when she comes to see them.
The remedial reading teacher at Wiltwyck told me that the school was building small libraries for the boys in each dormitory house and that during the two months in summer when there would be no regular school sessions they hoped the boys would do some extra reading. One of the little Puerto Rican boys who could not read on arrival, I was told, has now read 26 books.
Whenever I see these boys at Wiltwyck it points up the protesting telegram sent to Mayor Robert Wagner by Miss Helen Harris, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses, a federation of 35 community and settlement houses in New York City. It is estimated that there will be 40,000 youths of high school age who will not be able to find jobs this summer. Miss Harris's wire suggested that the Board of Estimate authorize city departments to set up summer positions for teen-agers. Funds appropriated but unspent could be used for the purpose, she said.
The state recently set up a youth employment service, with 23 neighborhood centers, but that bureau does not handle applications for summer jobs.
Both the city and state have known that this situation would exist for months past, and they might have stimulated business leaders to create jobs in a variety of industrial fields. But they have waited and done nothing, and now the city is confronted with this large unemployment problem. And such a problem could lead to major difficulties in the juvenile delinquency area.
I must say I think the state could long ago have met the need by establishing state camps for different age groups along the lines of our old CCC camps, and it is unfortunate that no action was taken by the legislature at an earlier time.