JULY 13, 1962
HYDE PARK—The annual Wiltwyck School picnic, held the other day on my picnic grounds, we had about 150 guests—100 of them, small boys. Many of them had been with us before, and they rushed at once to find out if particular things they remembered had remained the same since a year ago. It is an interesting thing that all children like to have an exact repetition of something they have once enjoyed.
Ordinarily, after I have fed them and am quite sure they would burst if they had another hot dog or another ice cream, I read them a story from Kipling. But this year a kind friend asked the well-known magician, John Mulholland, if he would come up with his assistant and give them a show. I remember Mr. Mulholland's visit to the White House to entertain the children there years ago, and he was as great a success with the Wiltwyck children here. All of them wanted to take part in the tricks and to be noticed in some way. Mr. Mulholland managed to keep them happy and focused on what he was doing every minute, which is no mean achievement with this particular group of small boys. In spite of their joy in the entertainment, some of them came to me and complained that they missed "the story." So I shall have to go over to the school sometime later in the month and read them the Kipling story—and provide ice cream and cake for a second party.
Wiltwyck School, as my readers probably know, is a school for boys who are committed by the New York courts between the ages of eight and twelve. They need psychiatric care and such things as remedial reading. New York City pays towards their board and education and for that reason it is an entirely unsegregated group. However, about two-thirds of the children come from the Harlem area. The others come from crowded Puerto Rican areas and from other institutions where they have run away. Wiltwyck seems to be the last chance to give these little boys a real opportunity for rehabilitation.
Along with the Wiltwyck School I would like also to mention the Camphill Rudolph Steiner Schools for children in need of special care. These schools use an English system for the rehabilitation of the mentally retarded; they also train children and those who are both blind and deaf. It is a very interesting and worthwhile undertaking. England has long been in the forefront in the movement to help disadvantaged children of every kind, and I am glad we now have a Camphill village in the U.S. on Sunny Valley Farm, Copake, N.Y. The village should prove of interest to many people, and there should be support for this movement to help retarded children in our country just as there has been throughout the British Isles.
According to newspaper reports, the White House will shortly announce the appointment of Abba P. Schwartz, a Washington lawyer, as head of the State Department's Bureau of Security and Consular affairs. Mr. Schwartz has long done unselfish work for refugees everywhere in the world. Since the security bureau is concerned with immigration law and probably should have someone with background in the whole area of handling of displaced persons, this should be a good appointment. Fortunately, Mr. Schwartz seems to be acceptable to Representative Francis E. Walter, Democrat of Pennsylvania, who probably recognizes the fact that dealing with someone who has personal knowledge, over a long period of years, of refugees and displaced persons is more satisfactory than having someone handling work about which he knows little or nothing. One hopes that Mr. Schwartz will be able to give the constructive leadership needed in solving the problems of people who at present form one of the floating populations of the world.