NOVEMBER 7, 1939
PITTSBURGH, Monday—I visited a training school for boys between the ages of 12 and 18, yesterday afternoon. It is about 16 miles out of St. Louis and is run on the cottage system with much land around it. The boys work three hours of the day on academic school courses and four hours on actual labor jobs.
Yesterday being Sunday, the WPA orchestra and the choral leader were putting on a concert in which the boys themselves participated. The commentator told the story of the music which the orchestra was about to play and the boys joined in the singing. Sometimes it was a quartette of boys trained under the WPA recreational project by the choral director, sometimes it was a song by the entire glee club.
The boys never had any time to weary of too much orchestral music, nor did they have to sit still too long, because periodically they rose and sang as loudly as they wanted.
It seemed to me a very well planned entertainment. When it was brought to an end by the singing of "God Bless America" I could not help thinking that these boys, handicapped at the start but with a future still before them, were singing this song with more spirit than did the audience at the Kiwanis Club on Saturday.
As we went out, a sextet of rather elderly musicians was playing on the lawn. The musicians' union has sponsored the music project in St. Louis.
The NYA representatives came to see me after I returned to the train and told me of some interesting projects in the State of Missouri. One of them, a project in the southern part of the state in the Ozark region, has taught the boys how to use stone for building purposes.. It appears that they have not been slow in applying this knowledge to their own needs and there is an "epidemic" of stone houses in that part of the state. In the Ozark area, the local court judges have sponsored many of the NYA projects and they say that delinquency has been cut down 65 percent as a result of this work.
Since I have been thinking so much about boys and young people these last few days, it seems an appropriate time to mention a book which has just appeared, called: "Parenthood In A Democracy," by Margaret Lightly and Leroy E. Bowman. It is a memorial volume published in memory of Robert E. Simon's significant and lasting achievements in the cause of public education in New York City. It will be of value to every parent because it tells the story of the United Parents Association's contribution to parent education. It is not only of interest to New York City, but of value to parents all over the country.
We are on the train today and will arrive in Pittsburgh late this afternoon.