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EOPLE LAUGHED that evening for the first days of inactivity-days and nights of worry over time."
lost possessions, of bewilderment and uncertainty This remark was repeated many times as about the future. Obviously a recreation program the Public Recreation Commission of Cincinnati. which would divert the attention of adults to Ohio, swung into action at forty-two refugee cen- games, dancing or music would give them emoters during the recent flood disaster.
tional release. Equally important was a progran
of play for children. Emergency Recreation in Cincinnati
Through the WPA Federal Art Project, which The Recreation Commission was designated by had been working closely with the Public RecreaDisaster Administrator Dykstra as the official tion Commission, the services of orchestral, draagency in charge of recreation activities for flood
matic and vaudeville units were secured to give refugees after its services had been requested by programs at the refugee centers. In the larger Mrs. Ella Brown, Executive Director of the Cin
centers entertainments were given three times a cinnati and Hamilton County Chapter of the day, at medium sized ones, twice a day, and at the American Red Cross. Robert E. Coady, the Com- smaller ones, once a day. At Stowe and Washmission's Supervisor of Playgrounds, was put in burn, for example, where at the beginning of the charge of the emergency program and with the disaster more than 2,000 people were quartered, a assistance of other members of the supervisory a symphony concert was arranged in the morning, staff of the Commission he accomplished an out- a vaudeville entertainment in the afternoon, and a standing piece of work. As the Commission had dance or movie at night. no funds with which to employ leaders, nearly all There was an excellent response from volunof the workers were selected from the WPA and teers for the entertainment program. The movie NYA workers normally working with the Com- operator at a local theater, having read in the mission. These leaders had already been given a papers of the entertainment program, offered his limited amount of training through the federal personal talking machine equipment and for more agencies and the Recreation Commission and had than a week gave two or three shows daily. Learngained experience in working under the super- ing of his offer, other movie operators volunteervision of the regular staff for periods ranging ed until there were five outfits visiting the stations. from a few weeks to several years. In addition to These entertaining units in some instances worked these workers there were many volunteers and a continuously from one o'clock in the afternoon number of school teachers who offered their ser- until nine at night. Every unit volunteered to vices through the Cincinnati Teachers' Association. work as often as their services were needed. The Program. A recre
Between Friday, Janation program was proRecreation has come to be recognized as a
uary 15th and Monday, vided at each center for necessity in normal times
February 15th, engage
one of the essential all ages, creeds and races, municipal services along with Education, Public
ments involving 68 vauand activities were con- Health and other governmental functions.
deville entertainments, 23 ducted from 8:00 A, M. What of recreation in times of such disaster concerts by the symphony to 8:00 P. M. or later.
as we have just suffered? Does it measure up? orchestra, 15 concerts by Here at the centers were During the recent floods recreation depart
the band, and 87 by the thousands of people held
ments performed outstanding service in helping
dance orchestra, had been in the grip of despair. who thought they had forgotten how to smile.
filled. Approximately 63 Their need for food and It is impossible to present in this brief article moving picture performclothing had been met. any adequate picture of the part played by ances were given and Behind them were days
recreation departments and similar groups, but there were 18 períormand days of anxiety ;
we are happy to give our readers a few of the ahead of them were many highlights from reports which have come to us.
ances of a miscellaneous Recreation workers everywhere may be very
nature by magicians, indays of confinement at proud of the valiant service performed by mem
strumental trios and the refugee stations- bers of their profession in the flood' areas.
At most of the centers the recreation leaders gave a great deal of attention to helping the flood refugees provide their own entertainment. There were spelling bees, tap dancing contests, checker tournaments, and choruses recruited from refugees. At the Stowe School refugee center several choral and entertainment troupes were organized to go to other refugee centers to put on programs. On pleasant days athletic games were arranged out of doors on the school grounds or playgrounds adjoining the centers. When the weather permitted children were taken for hikes.
At some schools the workers necessarily faced the problem of lack of adequate yard space and indoor recreation facilities. In one center where there was no gymnasium and no suitable space available, the recreation program had to be carried on in a portion of one of the halls and in a play room no larger than an ordinary classroom. Even there, however, the resourcefulness of the recreation leader in charge was equal to the situation. Athletic games were worked out on the basis of modified rules, and the small school yard was used for the type of games that can be played in a small space.
As a sample of the recreation program in operation at the refugee centers, the following outline of activities at Washburn School is offered: KINDERGARTEN
Regular kindergarten activities-lunches at noon
Assorted quiet games
Kickball Boys 8-12 YEARS (Room No. 26) Dominoes
Reading Paddle tennis
Active group games Boxing
Assorted quiet games Girls 13-17 YEARS (Play Room and No. 27) Kickball
Assorted quiet games
Reading READING Room (Room No. 23) Books
41 letters written to relatives SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT (Auditorium) Movies
Vaudeville Hall PATROL (A man was assigned to each hall to keep the group
moving, directing the people to the proper rooms)
Four Sunday School services
Property Damage. Tam Deering, Superintendent of Recreation, in his report on the emergency service has stated that twenty-three of the commission's properties were under water during the flood, the total area approximating 400 acres. While considerable damage was done to the commission's buildings and grounds, the losses were slight in comparison to those sustained by private citizens having business properties or homes in the flood area. The only recreation building which was very seriously damaged was the West End building which had not been constructed as a recreation building but was a temporary wooden structure which had been made over for use as a shelter with beaver board used for partitions.
The vigilance of the commission's workers by day and night was responsible for the limited damage done. At one building, which was the concentration point for supplies, in spite of the fact that there was a yard full of material, so diligent and alert were the employees that even piles of sand and gravel were not lost, and practically nothing was permitted to float away. All perishable articles were moved to the upper stories of the building.
Similar care protected the furnishings and properties at the C and O grounds where it was necessary to move all of the supplies, equipment and furnishings from the first floors of the main buildings and temporary buildings. While the food waters moved swiftly into the colony buildings holding the varicus exhibits and the branch of the natural museum at the C and O grounds, nothing was injured. Truck loads of valuable specimens and show cases were moved. The commission would have sustained very heavy losses at this location had it not been for the extraordinary activity of the employees.
Louisville Rallies Its Recreational Forces
Louisville, Kentucky, hard hit as was Cincinnati by the flood, immediately rallied its recreational forces, and workers of the Recreation Division of the Park Department under the leadership of Walter R. H. Sherman, Superintendent of Recreation, worked unceasingly day and night. When it became evident that the regular recreation program could not continue all the workers
At no fewer than twelve centers programs were conducted consisting of singing, quiet games, stunts, impromptu entertainment and social recreation. At seven of the centers members of the staff not only conducted recreation but directed and supervised all phases of relief work.
were asked to report at the welfare office to aid in flood relief activities. Their knowledge of the city, their experience in handling large groups massed in centers, their ability to organize, made them invaluable workers at tasks ranging from typing to rowing boats, from cooking to organizing relief centers. All members of the Negro staff and a majority of the white staff were themselves refugees, separated from their families and in many instances unable to communicate with them. Without proper clothing for the work they were called on to do and under great mental strain, these workers carried on in a spirit of cheer and good will. “All of the men on my staff working with me," writes Mr. Sherman, "did not change their clothing for eight days, working without sleep until they were exhausted."
During the flood period, while helping with the relief program, the Division of Recreation workers conducted recreation programs which did much to improve the morale of the refugees. Typical of them all is the program conducted at one of the schools used as a relief station. CHILDREN UNDER TWELVE
Dramatics (story play) Singing
work, valentines, paper 10:00 to 1:00)
Dramatics (stunts) Hikes
Handicraft (weaving, spatter
work, silhouettes, etc.) Game room
Social dancing (At the request of some of the older boys and girls a Refugee Club was formed to sponsor dances or "socials" as they called them.) ADULTS Game room (cards and games collected by Boy Scouts
nary students )
Daily staff meetings were held when the program wa planned by the staff. Any suggestions from the people were followed. The following is a detailed program conducted daily :
bour of Simmons L'niversity who was
In Other Cities At Evansville, Indiana, the City Recreation Department and the WPA Recreation Project joined forces to supply recreation equipment, leadership and entertainment. At the refugee station organized by the Red Cross entertainment programs consisted of concerts by WPA bands and orchestras, minstrel shows, community sings, skating exhibition, movies provided by the Y. M. C. A., puppet and marionette shows, clown acts, music and dance numbers furnished by the refugees themselves. A typical daily program follows: 9:00-10:30 A. M.-Active games 10:00-11:30 A. M.-Outdoor games 11:30-12:30 P. M.- --Noon meal 12:30- 1:00 P. M.-Free play 1:00- 1:30 P. M.-Outdoor walks 1:30- 2:30 P. M.-Quiet games and handcraft 2:30- 4:00 P. M.-
-Active games 4:00- 4:30 P. M.-Story-telling 4:30- 5:00 r. M.-Free play 5:00- 6:00 P. M.-Evening meal 6:00- 7:00 P. M.--Games for small children 7:00- 9:30 P. M.--Night program consisting oi the
following: 7:00- 7:30 P. M.-Old time dance music 7:30- 8:30 P. M.-Magicians, tap dancers, clowns, etc. 8:30- 8:50 P. M.- Moving pictures 8:50-10:00 P. M.-Dancing-music furnished by dance
orchestra Most ingenious use was made of the material available. As yarn was easily obtainable in Evansville, honeycomb mats were made in quantities, and new classes were formed to continue instruction. The Recreation Department was quick to salvage damaged material for the use of the handcraft program. Pianos, radios and discarded furniture were collected, and screws, wires and all parts for which any possible use could be imagined were saved and new projects devised for their use.
Recreation departments in cities outside the Aood areas did their part. When 2,000 refugees were sent to Lexington, Kentucky, to be housed in churches of the city, the local recreation department immediately set up programs. In Centralia, Illinois, the director of recreation had supplies on hand and an organization set up before the call came, and 200 refugees housed at the community center were provided with a recreation program. The Chicago Park District collected a
(Continued om page 52)
Pioneer in Park Planning
"The story of Theodore Wirth is the story of American progress. He is a pioneer who has lived to see the fruits of his work.”
By JAMES F. KIELEY
Washington, D. C.
ORTUNATE INDEED is the individual who finds
his calling, and no less fortunate is the field
to which he makes the contribution of a life's work.
For Theodore Wirth, who retired on November 30, 1935, after serving for thirty years as general superintendent of parks of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the choosing of a career presented no difficulties. From the time he was old enough to appreciate the exhibits in a florist's shop opposite the home of his parents in Winterthur, Switzerland, he knew that horticulture was his vocation.
It was no accident, then, that Theodore Wirth became an international figure in the field of park planning and development. He is a planner who has planned his own life as he has planned his park projects. His career constitutes one of the most important contributions made by any individual to the cause of public recreation.
When Mr. Wirth reached the age of seventytwo, his retirement from public service became mandatory. But the City of Minneapolis refused to bid farewell to the man to whom it owes its splendid park system. Mr. Wirth, by action of the Board of Park Commissioners, continues to act as superintendent emeritus without fixed salary, duties or responsibilities, but with certain privileges in return for his consultation and guidance. When he gave up his office he left with the Commissioners a comprehensive report on a metropolitan park system for Minneapolis which he had conceived and planned. In this report he placed emphasis on the need for recreational areas and facilities near large centers of population.
showed marked leaning towards horticulture, and spent most of his leisure in the greenhouses and gardens of his florist neighbor. As soon as he had finished his high school course he became an apprentice in the establishment of Stahel Brothers, nurserymen, florists, and landscape gardeners, at Flawil, St. Gall, one of the leading horticultural firms in Switzerland. After his apprenticeship of three years, he took a special course in engineering at The Technicum in Winterthur. This made him a professional gardener.
One of Mr. Wirth's first jobs was in 1883, in the landscape department of the National Exhibition in Zurich where he assisted in the laying out and maintenance of the exhibition grounds. Next, he went to London, England, where he was employed for two years by a grower and florist. His work for this firm in arranging windowbox decorations for private residences in all parts of the city took him daily to the Covent Garden flower market. After working for a few months in the orchid houses of Sanders & Company, St. Albans, he went to Paris in 1886 and was employed in the Jardins des Plantes and later with a commercial establishment. He returned to Switzerland to take a position on a large private estate near Constance, and in the winter of 1887-1888 entered the service of the City Gardener of Zurich in order to be able to attend night school in that city. Mr. Wirth had decided to go to America, and his night school studies were courses in English.
In April, 1888, Mr. Wirth landed in New York. In order to establish himself in the New World he worked for a short time for a private gardener in Morristown, New Jersey. He had been promised a position in Central Park, New York City, and while waiting for this job to become available he worked for a rose grower in South Orange, New Jersey. By summer his New York
His Early Life Theodore Wirth was born on November 30, 1863, in Winterthur, Switzerland, the son of Conrad Wirth, a school teacher. As a school boy he
THEODORE IT'IRTH - PIONEER IN PARK PLANNING
municipal position became a reality, and he work- den which has won national recognition as one of ed in the New York Park Department green- the finest gardens of its kind. The idea of eshouses, and with the planting and forestry crews tablishing turf walks in the garden was also confor a year. His leisure, as before, was devoted to ceived by Mr. Wirth. study, for by this time he had decided to specialize The Hartford chapter of Mr. Wirth's career in the branch of landscape gardening. Aided by established his reputation. In 1905 he received an his knowledge of engineering, and assisted by invitation from the Park Commission of MinneSam Parsons, superintendent of parks; and J. F. apolis to look over the park system of that city Iluss, general foreman of construction, he ad- · and to consider acceptance of the superintendency. vanced rapidly in the department. During the construction of Morningside Park he was promoted
On to Minneapolis ! to the position of foreman.
As with many a man at a crossroads in his Politics upset Mr. Wirth's career in the New career, it was not easy for Mr. Wirth to make a York Park Department when, with a change of decision on that offer. He explained to his Board administration, he was retired from the service shortly before his retirement: "When, in 1905, with hundreds of other employees. With Mr. Mr. C. V. Loring invited me to pay him a visit to Parsons' recommendation
consider the acceptance of he obtained commissions
my present position, I was for the improvement of "For his farsightedness as revealed in the
at first disinclined to accept. several private estates on conception of his plan and the expression
It rained every day during Long Island, in Connecti- of his ideas; for his ability as a designer my stay and everything cut, and along the Hudson and an efficient administrator; for his looked uninviting except River, and later found emconsideration of the most effective use of
the people whom I met, ployment with the State of
park properties for all of the people, Mr.
who were very kind to me. New York at Niagara est admiration by this Board. He has
When I left here, I had in State Reservation. It was been an ideal public servant—but be
mind to reject the position during his stay on Long yond this, individual members of the offered, but on my long Island that Mr. Wirth be- Board take the greatest pleasure in ac- journey home, however, I came acquainted with F. claiming the characteristics of the man.
constantly saw before ine H. Mense, former superEnduring friendships and sincere love and
those lakes, the river gorge, esteem are bound to result from frequent intendent of Danas Island association with him, as evidenced by
Minnehaha Creek, the falls and the Perkins Estate at
our co-partnership in building the park and glen, and the many Glen Cove. In June, 1895, system." - The Park Board of Minne- other natural attractions he married his friend's apolis in its testimonial to Mr. Wirth.
and the possibilities for daughter, Miss Leonie A.
their betterment in the Mense.
public service, new acqui
sitions, new creations, work among friendly peoHis Work in Hartford
ple for a well-organized, non-political Board of Mr. Wirth's first big opportunity came with his
Park Commissioners. By the time I reached home appointment, in the spring of 1896, as superin
I had gained a strong desire to accept--not that tendent of parks of Hartford, Connecticut. A
I did not have a host of friends in dear and beaunew park commission had just been organized and
tiful Hartford; not because I hadn't a splendid the constructive period of the city's park system Board of Park Commissioners to work with. Not had just begun. Here was the chance, then, that these—for Hartford, the birthplace of my chilTheodore Wirth had planned and studied for- dren, is still very dear to me. It was the opporthe chance to build a park system. Taking pians tunity for new work that attracted me chiefly, the provided by Olmsted and Elliat, the architects for Hartford Park System having been practically the Commission, he completed the job in ten completed during my ten years of service." years. Elizabeth Park, one of Hartford's favorite And so Theodore Wirth became superintendent recreation areas, came into the system subsequent of parks in Minneapolis early in Igo6. For to the drafting of the original plans, and Mr. twenty-three years previous to that time the Park Wirth himself designed and established that park. Board had been laying the foundations of the park One of its outstanding features is the Rose Gar- system and had acquired approximately 1,800