APRIL 25, 1962
LOS ANGELES—Here I am on the West Coast, but I must tell you that Easter Sunday at Hyde Park was a most beautiful day. Looking out of my dining-room window I could see the crocuses blooming fully. The service at the Hyde Park Church was particularly lovely, and we had a large attendance of young people whose Easter finery made one feel that spring was really on its way ever though the trees and most of the shrubs are still showing only faint signs of budding. I am sure that by the time I get back to Hyde Park spring will have made great strides.
The meaning of Easter and the story of the Resurrection always is tied in my mind with the rebirth which nature brings and which gives to all of us a sense of the continuity of life from the dormant winter months back to the bloom of spring and growth of summer.
After a small reunion at my son John's house I left for New York City and by evening I was in Los Angeles. Mr. and Mrs. Hershey Martin met us at the airport, and it certainly seemed to us that summer had already arrived in this city.
On Monday Miss Maureen Corr and I flew to San Diego to speak at San Diego State College that evening, and after my talk here at the Los Angeles City College I plan to go up to Monterey.
As I started for San Diego I thought about a letter which came to me from some young people who have started a plan called "Project Amigos." In their message to me these youngsters quote from an article that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on April 3, in which columnist Inez Robb wrote about "the city fathers of Daytona Beach (Fla.)" who were planning "free beer, free jazz, all-night dances and anything-goes latitude" for young people on their Easter vacations. And, as Mrs. Robb pointed out, these goings-on "have not only set a national pattern but have become a national scandal."
The young people of Cholas View Methodist Church in San Diego, however, made a response to the Daytona Beach offer and sent a counter invitation. They said:
"We here in Southern California are also planning something for our Easter vacations. We have done all kinds of hard jobs and saved hundreds of dollars within the last year to spend on something we think is pretty special. We're going to Tijuana, Mexico. Yes, there is gambling and drinking and carousing there, too. But we have found something more exciting in Tijuana. We call it `Project Amigos.'
"With `Project Amigos' we are going to fix up some old war barracks in different areas of Tijuana where thousands of people can come and get help—free medicine, free training in many different skills, courses in how to cook, carpentry and sewing, have better health and sanitation for themselves and for their families, better crops, and even how to read and write.
"These people do not have many of the things that we enjoy here in the United States. Thousands of them do not have enough to eat for themselves or their hungry babies. Often they live 10 or 12 people crowded into one cold room about eight feet square, without even water or a cook stove. Even if they can get jobs, they cannot make enough money to feed their families because they haven't the necessary education.
"`Project Amigos' will give them centers where they can learn needed skills and understanding that will help them have better and happier lives. The thought of having a share in helping our neighbors thrills us."
In an addendum these youngsters wrote: "Want some real adventure and fun? Why not have a `Project Friends' of your own for the needs of your community, your country and your world? We invite you!"
This message is signed: "Sincerely, A Group of Young People with a Cause in `Project Amigos"' and there are eight signatures along with a note saying they are speaking for approximately 100 youths in Southern California and Tijuana and they are inviting other mature high-school and college young people to join them here or through their own projects in other parts of the country.
Two older people also have written to me about this project—one, a minister of the Santee (S.C.) Methodist Church, and the other, a Mrs. Fiske, director of Laubach Literacy Fund, Inc., of Washington, D.C.
I had never heard of this project, however, until I received the letter from the San Diego youngsters, and I must say that it strikes me as the beginning of something I have wanted to see for a long time—a domestic Peace Corps project. Perhaps our Congress and our Administration will take it up and use it so as to further a good fight against juvenile delinquency in our country.