JUNE 11, 1956
HYDE PARK—On Friday morning Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lash, their son Jonathan, Dr. David Gurewitsch and I all left in Mr. Lash's car for Putney School, near Putney, Vermont. I had never been to this school before, but it was started many years ago by Mrs. Hinton. Many of my friends' children have gone there and I have heard much about it, so that I was happy to go up and give the commencement address.
No one had told me, however, how beautiful the location of the school is, perched on top of a high hill with wonderful rolling country all around it, and woods and fields stretching for miles. They own a good deal of land and the campus is widely scattered, which gives the youngsters a lot of walking to do in what must be very severe winter weather. But no one seems to mind and it is probably good for the young.
The idea behind this school was that children should be educated not only academically, but that their whole personality should be developed as much as possible. This could only be done if, along with the best of academic teaching, opportunities for work jobs of every kind could surround the children. Some of them work on the farm, some in the woodworking shops or in ceramics or in setting up radios. There is metal work of all kinds, jewelry work, good laboratories, a fine library, and they are given many opportunities to work in the arts, drama, dancing, cooking, sewing and, above all, music. I have rarely heard more beautiful music, by children of their ages, than we had at the commencement exercises. One symphony was even conducted by one of the boys in the graduating class. There is certainly a great opportunity for young people in these surroundings and a very free atmosphere in which discussions and differing points of view can well be developed. Nearly all of the young graduates will go on to college and then, one hopes, all of them will make a real contribution to the life of their country.
The other day I was given a delightful book by a young author named Reese Wolfe. Entitled "When the Credit's Low, Order Champagne," it is a fantastic and amusing story. I think almost anyone will enjoy it, and it will not take long to read.
I also had the pleasure the other morning of seeing a motion picture, scheduled to come out some time this summer, called "Storm Center." Daniel Taradash and Julian Blaustein made the picture in the belief that "the screen could not stand aside from the major issues of our times and that through a personal story could illuminate them for millions of Americans." I hope this picture will be widely seen. Something similar could so easily happen in almost any American community—the misunderstandings, the exaggerated fears, the lack of real belief in the principles that underlie our democracy all come out in this story. It is acted by Bette Davis, supported by Brian Keith, Kim Hunter and Paul Kelly. A host of others are in the cast, all doing a very good job.