The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—On Friday we had a very pleasant lunch with Mr. Lewis Lawes at the warden's house in Sing Sing, and then saw a most interesting exhibition of the physical training given to the guards in the Central Guard School. This school was, I think, the first one established in any state and has been discontinued this year because the State Legislature, as an economy measure, cut off the appropriation. There were two photographs in the program which showed guards as they looked in 1880 and as they look today. I think those photographs are the most eloquent justification of holding a guard school.

It is not just physical fitness which is important, though that in itself is a great thing. A man who feels well and moves easily, is always tempermentally more fitted to do a difficult job. In this In this particular case drill, calesthenics, jiu jitsu, boxing, wrestling and the defense taught to meet sudden attacks, have an important bearing on the confidence which the guards have in themselves. A man is much less apt to be a bully and to bolster up his morale by bluster and cruelty, if he is entirely sure of his own physical adequacy.

Of course, in this school the guards were given many other courses, such as psychology and a knowledge of the criminal law and penal code, but, just as in English education, great stress has always been laid on the value of "the playing fields of Eton," so would I lay great stress on the value of this physical development.

The Sing Sing band is extraordinarily good and I enjoyed hearing it play, and was only distressed that I missed seeing the trick dog, who through his cleverness has won the permission of Warden Lawes to remain with his master in prison. I understand that he knows some hundred old tricks and when they say "Warden" or "P.K." to him, he runs to his hiding place and closes and locks the door.

It is many years since I have visited Sing Sing and there seems to me to be a great improvement in its physical condition. I am primarily interested, of course, in what we can do to help people in prison to rehabilitate themselves. Physical environment and proper treatment by the guards has a great deal to do with the success of both probabtion and parole later on.

We came up to Hyde Park yesterday, and I grieve to say that the colors are already fading and the leaves are blowing off the trees. Neverthless, it is good to be in the country.

This morning the Bible being presented to St. James Church is being dedicated and we are all on our way to attend the services.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 23, 1939

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.