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CITIZEN LEADERSHIP IN TODAY'S LEISURE TIME
and agriculture in another. This problem calls for something beyond this medley of competing leaderships, because, after all, whatever happens in any one of these great functional fields of American life profoundly affects the whole social and cultural welfare of the American people, and until there is cooperation and coordination between these varied functional leaderships it is impossible to do more than talk about a really cultural attack upon the leisure time problem. Without getting into any lengthy discussion, let me say that for purposes of discussion we may say that three great leisure areas confront a commission such as this: leisure for the child, for youth, and for the inature.
Three Qualities of Mind Demanded First, the right attack on this problem calls for a mind that can take long views, a mind that can think in terms of the next generation as well as in terins of the next election, a mind that considers the unborn part of its constituency even if the unborn has no vote. It is never easy to achieve that long view in America because we are essentially a nation of improvisers. We like to hatch policies on the spot. We tend to think under the spell of the immediate and to confine our thinking on fundamental issues to moments of campaign or crisis. When things are running smoothly we tend to take the easiest way, and the man among us who insists on talking about fundamental policy when social, political and economic thunderstorms are not in the sky, is likely to be set down as an impertinent and impractical meddler in other people's business. We play by ear in a great many fields beside music. This is why in so many fields of our national life the ground is cluttered with jerry-built policies thrown out of short range
minds in the midst of time of stress. I set down first that an intelligent approach to the community-wide, state-wide, and nation-wide problem of the use of leisure in this generation calls for a mind that habitually takes a long view.
Second, this leisure time problem calls for minds realizing the complexity of this problem. Again it is very hard in America to get anybody to admit that any problem isn't terribly simple. We are essentially a patent medicine-minded people. We have a childlike faith that there must be a pink pill for pale agriculture or pale labor or pale business, and that if we could only find that one little precious pill, Utopia would be the next station stop. We are quite impatient with anyone who maintains that none of our public problems is really simple. This problem of leisure time calls for minds that know there are no pink pills that will effect a swift and sure cure for a conplex difficulty. So this whole thing is doomed to sterility if the minds behind it oversimplify it. I shall try to indicate later what I mean by the complexity of this problem.
Third, I suggest that this problem calls for a mind that works for a cooperative leadership of the community, the state, and the nation, rather than the competing leaderships in the nation. We Americans tend to work too much on the “lone wolf" theory of leadership, with business leadership over in this corner, and labor in that corner
Play for Children I was reminded by Dr. Rumley of the formulation of a philosophy and statement of play that a very astute-minded student of the problem made some years ago. That statement was esssentially this: that play is in reality the work of the child, that play does for the child now what the work of primitive man did for him, that almost every one of the games that boys especially play-running, leaping, jumping, throwing, clubbing — is more or less instinctive repetition in the play time of the modern children of the work activities of the adult primitive man. Out of the running, out of the leaping, out of the joining together, primitive man learned how to double the capacity, energy and ingenuity of the individual primitive man and thus obtain his food, protect himself from the menace of animals and evolve techniques of survival for himself. Over the generations, children of more modern days have instinctively reproduced in play that which primitive man did in the serious business of getting food and managing to survive.
Now if that interpretation of the historic evolution of more or less instinctive play be true, and I think it is, then the community that denies to the modern child adequate facilities for play is doing to modern children what would have been done to primitive man if his hands had been tied behind him and his feet manacled so that he could not run and leap and hurl rocks and gang together in a cooperative attempt to get food, to protect himself and thus to survive. That is in essence the problem of the leisure for childrenso to organize a kind of play life for children that out of it the skills will be developed, the capacity for cooperation developed which will make them function more intelligently and more effectively as in
CITIZEN LEADERSHIP IN TODAY'S LEISURE TIME
dividuals and as members of social groups as they American civilization, must concern itself not only move on into maturity.
with doing the best it can for involuntary idleness
and must not only simply stand still and say, "If Leisure for Youth and Adults
and when the other forces of civilization shear I am going to say nothing about leisure for out a little margin of leisure, then as a recreation youth beyond the fact that with the tendency commission we will do the best we can to plan an known as the prolongation of infancy, with the intelligent program for them." Beyond that a lengthening of the years allowed to education, great recreation commission ought to be concernwith industry taking workers on a little later and ed with the question of how we are going to prodropping them considerably earlier, that the mar- duce the amount of leisure and kind of leisure a gin of time not devoted to active earning work is really great and glowing civilization such as larger and larger as the years pass with modern America is, should have, and it is on that question American youth, and that presents a challenging of organizing to produce leisure as well as orproblem to a great commission such as this.
ganizing to serve leisure hours that I want to The problem I am concerned to state is the speak for a few minutes. third aspect of the leisure time use problem, leisure for the nature. I needn't say to this group
Leisure Defined that the idleness of a man who can't get a job Leisure in this power age is that margin of time isn't leisure. A great recreation commission must which men on a decent standard of living and of course face that difficult problem of how best with a decent sense of security have free for the to pour some richness of meaning into those idle pursuit of values that lie beyond economics. Now hours of men who, through no fault of theirs, are I give you my own judgment. I think that we of unable to do a man's work in the course of day. this generation and our children can achieve this You know that problem. I merely say that the sort of leisure in but one way, and that is by the idleness of unemployment is not leisure and I am full and unhampered utilization of our modern suggesting that this recreation commission, when economics, of science, technology, and power proit fully tackles the problem of the use of leisure duction. We cannot achieve this productive sort time to the best advan
of leisure by curbing these tage of the individual and Out of the play life of children skills are devel
giant forces of social oped and the capacity for cooperation is fostered
CITIZEN LEADERSHIP IN TODAY'S LEISURE TIME
modernism, and I take it to be essential to a really productive movement for the intelligent use of a nation's leisure time that the directing and guiding forces of such a movement shall have a clear conception of the instruments with which and through which alone as a people we can achieve this leisure for ourselves and our children in this power and machine age.
pacity in chains, by producing less and by charging more.
What do we mean when we Americans talk about the abundant life and productive leisure? I take it we mean a better fed, better clothed and better housed people, with bodies and minds and spirits so emancipated from unduly low living standards that they are free for the pursuit of these values that lie beyond economic values. If I am right in assuming that the leisure we want is not the mere idleness, but must be the free hours of men with decent living standards and economic and social security, then there is an economic base to that economic life, and we shall never have it by pursuing the will-of-the-wisp policy of fewer goods at higher prices. We shall some day have to become intelligent enough to realize that this problem of leisure, if it is to flower into a civilized culture for our people, must sink its roots in the elementary economic fact that the abundant life must proceed from a nation-wide policy of more goods at lower prices and not fewer goods at higher prices.
It is very easy for some Americans to assume that we are tied irrevocably to this machine age, that it is an absorbing sort of economy that is bound to suck all the juices of meaning out of men and therefore the best we can do is to say that we are tied to it and we are doomed as busy, non-cultural people. That, of course, no intelligent man will admit. I am convinced that our only hope of producing adequate leisure-leisure so coupled with adequate living standards and a sense of economic and social security-is by the full and unhampered use of this machine economy. Frankly, at the moment we are listening too much to councils of despair regarding these great hordes of social modernism to which I have referred. If you won't misunderstand it, frankly, I can't understand the inconsistency that we Americans sometimes display. We say, and I know we are sincere when we say it, that our whole purpose
is to achieve the abundant life within the reach of the last living American. Then at the very first appearance of actual abundance we start to whimper and say unless we can devise ways and means of checking this large production we are ruined. We insist, and rightly, that perhaps a third of this great population is inadequately fed, clothed and housed. Then the minute we learn that we are likely to raise somewhere between sixteen and eighteen million bales of cotton this year with which we might do something about the ill-clad third, we begin to cry out for controls and subsidies.
"We need to find a wider variety of forms of group and individual activity if we are to meet the requirements of any large proportion of the total population.
"We need to understand the place of leadership in adult activity and to discover ways for development and training of leadership.
"We need to interpret unit costs of recreational services.
“We need to study how the form of every activity offered may become an educational process in itself. This does not mean control or regimentation; it means the contagious exercise of skill, the helpful guidance and friendly service of competent leaders.
"Most cities need more community centers which will increase opportunities for study, discussion and participation in public affairs.
"Most cities need more lighted facilities for night activities such as tennis, softball, croquet and the like.
"Most cities need development of additional camping facilities for boys and girls from underprivileged areas.
“More cities need a city-wide recreation council or commission to study the needs and trends of recreation.”—G. W. Danielson, Superintendent of Recreation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
I think if we are going to do anything about producing adequate leisure and turn it to sound cultural and spiritual advantage, that we are going to have to realize that the blunt truth is that except as emergency measures for meeting emergencies we haven't been intelligent enough to avoid, there can be neither rhyme nor reason in the fantastic notion that either in American industry or agriculture we can bring the abundant life, leisure and cultural opportunity to the American millions by putting our productive ca
The Amusement Industry
TTEMPTS have been
made in various arti
cles to provide approximate estimates of the
Vacation travel, the autototal expenditures of the
mobile, amusement parks, American people on recre
motion picture theaters,
dance halls, billiard parlors ation and amusement. An
and bowling alleys, sports aggregate figure of some
and the radio contribute $6,000,000,000 was pre
to the stupendous sum of sented as an annual aver
approximately $6,000,000,age for the past several
000 spent every year for
recreation and amusement years, constituting almost 12 per cent of the national income for the year 1934, and current gains hold out THE AMUSEMENT INDUSTRY the prospect that in the near future this total may well approach the $10,000,000,000 annual total surgent standard of living. While it does not estimated by former President Hoover's Commit- amount to as much as our total expenditures on tee on Social Trends for the period 1928-30. tobacco products, it far exceeded, in 1935, total Recreational and vacation travel, dominated by
value of manufacturers' sales of alcoholic beverpleasure uses of the automobile, account for by ages, was about four times the total value of confar the greater part of this immense sum, while fectionery manufacturers, almost nine times that large amounts are spent annually by the American of manufacturers of perfumes and cosmetics, and people on sports, but a further classification of nearly twenty times that of toys, games and playrecreational expenditures is represented by such
ground equipment. forms of commercial entertainment as motion
Growth of Commercial Amusements pictures, the radio, and innumerable places of pub
The American people have not always spent lic amusement including billiard parlors, bowling
such a considerable part of their income on amusealleys, horse and dog race tracks, sports and ath
ment or entertainment and it was not until the letic fields, dance halls, the legitimate stage, amusement parks, bands and orchestras, museums,
advent of the motion picture and the radio that
the amusement industry as a whole played a rôle swimming pools and bathing beaches.
in our economic life analogous to that which it A recent survey of the Census of Business has
holds today through the total of its receipts and placed the aggregate receipts, for 1935, of all
the employment it directly or indirectly provides. places of commercial amusement, including mo- For while the motion pictures may be held respontion picture theaters, at $699,051,000, while, in this
sible for the decline in importance of other forms same year, retail sales of radios amounted to
of entertainment, notably the stock companies and $230,890,000. Grouping together these expendi
vaudeville shows which formerly toured throughtures on commercial entertainment, a sum ap
out the country, they never reached an audience, proximating $1,000,000,000 is obtained, repre
provided the employment, or obtained the revenue senting about 16 per cent of our total annual bill
which motion pictures and the radio command for recreation.
today. This sum, indeed, ranks high among those sec- Amusement places are primarily a product of ondary expenditures whose progressive increase the increasing urbanization and industrialization in recent years, as discussed in the May issue of of the country. A century ago they were few and The Index, provide such graphic proof of our re- far between. A struggling theater, largely con
THE AMUSEMENT INDUSTRY
fined to a few large cities, appealed to a very limited audience; there were a few commercial museums of curiosities, and occasional traveling shows, equestrian circuses, and exhibitions of freaks and curiosities toured the country. There was nothing remotely comparable to the radio.
The amusement field was first exploited on any considerable scale in this country by P. T. Barnum. At a time when the theaters were largely empty he made his American Museum in New York a popular source of public entertainment, and touring the country with some of the special attractions he brought to this institution, he first made a real business of amusing the American people.
His lead gave a new impetus to the movement to provide the growing mass of urban dwellers with popular entertainment, and during the latter part of the nineteenth century the gradual development of the circus, of vaudeville shows, and of itinerant theatrical stock companies brought this phase of the amusement industry into being. Widespread as these sources of entertainment became, however, the advent of moving pictures foreshadowed development on a scale previously impossible.
These were first shown in vaudeville houses, but in 1905 the first motion picture theater was established, exhibiting "The Great Train Robbery" for five cents admission. Following the success of this experiment, "nickelodeons" multiplied rapidly--by 1907 there were some 5,000 of them and the moving picture public was increasing by leaps and bounds.
Feature pictures, the development of stars, more elaborate production and finally sound pictures served to extend the popularity of this new form of entertainment until it took rank among the country's leading industries. In 1931, invested capital was estimated at $2,000,000,000, and throughout the country some 14,500 theaters with a total seating capacity of more than 12,000,000 were entertaining an estimated weekly audience of from 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 persons, according to the Motion Picture Almanac.
The radio neither replaced nor supplemented a predecessor. The idea of bringing popular entertainment directly into the ordinary home in the form of dance music, concerts, story-telling, running accounts of sporting events, the spoken drama, and associating with it such informative or educational features as public speeches, news summaries and lectures, is something entirely new.
Just how new is easily forgotten in view of the universality of the radio today, but the first professional public broadcast was given as recently as 1920. The growth of the radio industry and parallel development of commercial broadcasting on a national scale have since then been phenomenal, bringing to the American people a readily available and comparatively inexpensive form of entertainment which has been of tremendous social significance.
The rapid expansion of radio resulted from tremendous popular enthusiasm as new sources of broadcast entertainment were developed and its value along informational and educational lines became more and more widely appreciated. At first, the services of artists, musicians and professional talent were obtained without charge, but as broadcasting developed, the expense involved and the need to pay entertainers led to the introduction of programs sponsored and paid for by advertisers who sought in the radio an effective means of building up public goodwill. The organization of national broadcasting services quickly followed, and radio, as we know it today, became an established feature of our national life.
Its rate of growth may, perhaps, be best illustrated by the expansion of radio sales. Within six years of the first professional broadcast, or by 1926, they had risen to 1,750,000 units with a retail value of $200,000,000; three years later they had almost tripled to a total of 4,438,000 units valued at $592,068,000. Radio had become one of the country's outstanding industries.
Commercial exploitation of sports has a longer history than the movies or radio, but is comparatively new in the scale known today. While the establishment of billiard parlors and bowling alleys followed a gradual course as the population of cities grew and horse races have always been a popular feature of this country's recreational life, other organized sports for which admissions are charged date from the latter half of the nineteenth century. Their development may be traced in the increasing popularity of professional baseball as a spectator sport, in the interest aroused in prize fighting as it was somewhat raised from the low standards which originally prevailed in the days of bare knuckle fighting, and, more recently, in the development of professional hockey, professional basketball, professional football, and many other sporting contests which are staged for the entertainment of the growing army of sports enthusiasts who may or may not play the games