My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Sunday—I went up to Hyde Park very early on Saturday morning because at noon we were having the annual picnic for the boys from Wiltwyck School. Last year we had only 61 boys. This year there were 100.

These youngsters, as you know, are New York City boys between the ages of eight and 12 committed to the school by the courts, sometimes for very serious offenses. We hope to create a pattern of treatment at the school which may be helpful to the boys, but we work also with their families in the hope of returning them to their own homes if the life there can be improved. If not, foster homes must be found. In either case, an effort is made to keep in friendly touch with every boy who is judged well enough to go back to his city environment and to regular public school.

Wiltwyck has no high walls or barbed wire around it and at one time there was considerable hesitation among our neighbors as to whether they really enjoyed having the Wiltwyck boys nearby. But every year the contacts seem to improve.

There have to be very able counsellors to look after the boys—more of them, of course, than in an ordinary school. There are no lessons in summer, so the boys move into camp, where much nature work and many outdoor activities are developed to keep them busy and to improve their health. For these youngsters need physical, intellectual and emotional care.

I always enjoy having the boys for the annual picnic, but I am always surprised at the amount they can eat! We count on 150 guests in all, and we provide 450 hot dogs and rolls, quarts and quarts of milk, untold pounds of salad and ears of corn, ice cream and cup cakes. There is never anything left!

Saturday evening I had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who are soon off to Europe for the summer months.

Sunday morning I drove back to New York because, in the early afternoon, rehearsals had to begin for the adventure TV show for which I had been asked to do some of the narration. This was fun to do and I enjoyed very much the picture of Marco Polo's travels.

I have traveled to some of the same places; but it is far less adventurous today than it was in the days of Marco Polo, who traveled for so many years and went over so much completely unknown and uncharted territory. When you know nothing about a specific area, you are apt to people it with all kinds of imaginary terrors, and that is what the people of the 13th century did. It therefore must have taken great courage, which we modern travelers do not require, for we know fairly well what we are apt to find wherever we go.

E. R.