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From Bakery to Recreation Center
It takes imagination to see a recreation center in an old bakery, and plenty of hard work's involved in making it a reality, but New Bedford had "what it takes!"
HOUGH no longer serving its original purpose, the Mayflower Bakery building in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is again satisfying a great hunger the hunger of youth for recreation! Dark and empty for months, as the North End Community Center, this building has become one of the most active of the city's fifteen WPA recreation centers.
The history of the transformation of the bakery is an interesting one. Last summer, William Dimock, WPA Recreation Supervisor, seeing the crowds flocking to the playground opened on the former Bristol Mill site, was impressed with the importance of providing winter recreational facilities in the same locality. His search for a building to house activities disclosed a single possibility-a vacant bakery building taken over by the city for taxes. There were, of course, some obstacles in the way of securing the use of the building, but WPA leaders, aided by determined citizens, overcame opposition and saved the building from demolition.
With the cooperation of the WPA, the New Bedford Building Department put the building in condition for use. A staircase and fire escape were added to make it conform with safety requirements. Heating was installed by using salvaged heating equipment from other buildings. Light was made adequate and a platform was put up in the large upstairs hall to serve as a stage. The
FROM BAKERY TO RECREATION CENTER
Those under fourteen must leave for home by 8:00 o'clock at the latest but another hour of activity continues for the older boys and girls.
The girls' clubs meet in two upstairs rooms from 3:00 to 8:00 P. M. and girls have a choice of athletics, ping pong, tap dancing, and arts and crafts. The ceilings of the building are too low for basketball but newcomb and volley ball are possible and are popular. Games for boys are conducted in the downstairs quarters.
There are five ping pong tables, twenty game tables, and two tables for reading. Mr. Dimock and his assistants collect large supplies of magazines which appeal to many of the children between games.
Community singing is frequently organized and amateur dramatic programs are arranged. Fathers' and mothers' nights have been held bringing out a large attendance.
Behavior problems have been few and they are easily handled. The exceptional boy or girl who persists in misbehaving is asked to turn in his or her card and stay away from the center. The few whom it has been necessary to discipline in this way were told that they could return and talk over the question of readmission when they felt they were ready to try again. One day of staying outside has usually been sufficient.
One requirement is that the attendance cards must be shown to a worker on each visit to the center. In this way a complete attendance record is kept.
The staff of the center consists of five men and five women instructors working on a shift basis, a woman attendant in the girls' quarters, in addition to three door attendants, three janitors and a watchman.
Other Youth Centers
The Mayor of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, has given the use of the city hall basement to the NYA as a community center for the youth of the city. One of the two large rooms is serving as a reading and game room and is equipped with ping pong, dart baseball, table shuffleboard, checkers. and other quiet games. Between 75 and 100 boys a day visit the center. A second room is being equipped to attract girls. The NYA is also holding classes for both boys and girls in the high school gymnasium.
In Sunbury, Pennsylvania, a parish house is being utilized as a youth center. The building has
a small gymnasium which can be used for volley ball and low organized games, an auditorium with a small but serviceable stage, a club room which is used by the sewing class, and a game room which will be used for ping pong and quiet games. Four dramatic groups have been organized which will put on a play every two weeks. In cooperation with the Pennsylvania Safety Council, the NYA is broadcasting dramatizations to help in the movement to reduce accidents in the state.
Meadville, Pennsylvania, has opened a recreation hall for its youth on the third floor of a building in a business district. There is a large open game room which is used every afternoon and three evenings a week for ping pong, checkers, dart baseball and similar games. There is a stage which has been built by the boys, a classroom, a workshop and an office. The average attendance is thirty-five in the afternoon, forty-five in the evening. In the classroom there are classes in sewing, weaving and basketry for girls, with woodworking for boys. There are also classes in painting, music and drama, attended by both boys and girls.
Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in her syndicated column, "My Day," speaks of the youth centers she has seen in the course of her travels. Describing one in El Reno, Oklahoma, she says:
"The boys and girls have done all the work on this little house. At the back the boys have a shop in which they did the plumbing, wiring and carpentry work. The girls have made curtains, will do cooking and will have a room in which typewriters and sewing machines are available. This will be a recreation and work center to encourage young people to learn new things outside of school that may be useful in their daily lives. I think any community will be interested in this and may find greater possibilities than they had first visualized for helping the young people of the community to develop a variety of new interests."
The Recreation Commission of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., is conducting a community center for girls with club rooms open from 3:00 to 5:30 and from 7:30 to 9:30 P. M. Classes are conducted in cooking, sewing, folk dancing, dramatics, handcraft and music, and special interest groups are organized. Parties are held several times during the year. When the club rooms are not being used by the girls, there is a program for mothers consisting of classes in sewing and mending, knitting and cooking. While the mothers are in classes their children are provided with play activities.
A Parade Is Passing By!
LTHOUGH County-wide approval had greeted
our 1935 Playground Circus as a climaxing event of the playground season, the supervisors and workers of Fairmont's fourteen playgrounds were unwilling to take the easy way of merely repeating for the 1936 season something that had been done before, however successfully. It was decided that the 1936 event would be a Playground Revue of the Nations including a parade with floats through the city and a revue in a large auditorium.
It was an ambitious choice, but we wished to impress the citizens of Fairmont with the importance of our recreational program. A director and costume designer were appointed and plans were soon under way. The venture quickly enlisted the interest of several citizen groups in Fairmont. Within two days of its announcement local merchants had donated fourteen trucks to be decorated as floats, one for each playground. The American Legion, city band, state and city police and other groups joined in the enterprise. Each playground worked diligently on its float and part in the revue, for only three weeks were allowed for preparation. Costumes were made on the playground under the supervision of the costume designer. Awards
were offered for the best float and revue numbers.
Our efforts were more than rewarded. The parade was acclaimed as one of the finest to be held in the city in many years. It was headed by the state and city police followed by three open touring cars, new automobiles loaned by local dealers, in which rode the playground officials, the Mayor of the city and the County Superin
By PATRICK A. TORK Playground Director Fairmont, West Virginia
tendent of Schools. Next came the American Legion drum and bugle corps in gay uniforms, one hundred members strong. Three hundred children rode in the parade on decorated bicycles and another eight hundred rode on the floats and walked.
Midway in the parade came the Fairmont city band of seventy members, all in uniform. There were also five small ponies, ridden by children in the costumes of cowgirls and cowboys. Then followed the floats. With each playground's float another country came in view. One playground presented Hawaii. An open truck bed was covered with artificial grass borrowed from a funeral home, and palms borrowed from florists and garages. A number of children rode on it, dressed in grass skirts and playing ukeleles. A large department store sponsored the float for a playground presenting Holland. The store had decorated one of its own trucks as a Dutch tulip gar(Continued on page 116)
Millions of Books-and Recreation
They said it was a crazy experiment, that it just
YOUNG STUDENT sat in a Harvard classroom during the early days of the depression. It was "English 32," to be exact. From day to day the learned professor instilled into the minds of some of the students a deep-seated love of good literature. From day to day the professor paced the floor, gazed out of the window and commented on the high price of books for depression readers. He suggested to his students a few places where good books could be had at cheap prices. For most students these remarks were passed over casually. Their interest was centered primarily in passing their examination in "English 32."
To one student, however, these simple day by day remarks were tremendously significant. He got a deep-seated love of good literature, but along with that he got a great idea, namely, that people who wanted to read good books might be able to get them at a price they could afford. He discussed the matter with a few interested friends. All were agreed that something ought to be done about it. But what and how? Libraries and schools were closing their doors. Unemployment was at its height. Publishers, authors and book dealers were unable to see any hope ahead. To most people the suggestion of starting a new enterprise was sheer folly.
But the book idea stuck. Over a period of months Sherman F. Mittell and his friends made extensive studies of "book costs and selling prices, of printing operations, methods of distribution and general practices used in promoting the sale of reading matter, good or bad."
This group of friends, in the words of Mr. Mittell, "always came back to the world of books and to the satisfying discussion and play of ideas with which this real world provided them. They resented the stupidity that prevented ideas and books from being shared and widely disseminated. Culture in the broadest
sense had no real opportunity to take root in America. Now perhaps while the depression was deepest, the time might be ripe to extend knowledge to the furthermost limits; to reach out to the great masses in order that they, too, might think and know, and so might have a real stake in the Democratic experiment."
In November, 1932 this group of friends met in Washington and established the National Home Library Foundation. In their application for a charter they stated the following aims:
I. To promote and inculcate in more people the desire to read good literature.
2. To make home libraries more easily available to greater numbers of our population.
3. To urge the reading of good literature through printed announcements, radio broadcasts and newspapers.
4. To provide for the holding of lectures, exhibits, public meetings, classes and conferences, calculated to advance the cause of education and promote the general culture of the nation.
The charter was granted and business was begun. The sheer daring of the early venture is fascinating. There are some ten thousand titles published in America each year with an average sale known to be less than one thousand copies each. This means high costs and that costly books are read by few. The Foundation took its cue from the field of magazines that have over a million circulation. If magazines could be published at low cost, why couldn't books? In fact, they could. They found that a paper covered book could be produced in quantities of 100,000 at 61⁄2¢ a copy. If twelve such books could be printed at one time. in editions of 100,000 each, the cost could be cut still more. So the plunge was made on the basis of twelve volumes of 100,000 copies each, or 1,200,000 copies! The first titles were: The New Testament Emerson's Essays Green Mansions
The National Home Library Foun-
(Continued on page 118)
Young People's Nights
WORLD AT PLAY
ONE night each week at the Danville, Illinois, community center is given over entirely to a program of activities planned especially for the high school and college age boy and girl. Mixed parties and socials are planned and encouraged, and the young people gather for party games, table games, dancing and old-time square dancing. On the principle that eating together makes people more congenial and happy, pot luck suppers are made regular events of the program.
Drama Program for Pennsylvania
THE Extension Program of the Division of Dramatics, Pennsylvania State College,
maintains a play library service available to all citizens of the state. Thousands of plays of all types are in the library and they will be sent to anyone who wishes to read them at a charge of 10 cents for a long play, 5 cents for a short play, and 25 cents for a book treating some phase of dramatic production. Books and plays may be kept for two weeks. The Division is prepared to send a member of its staff to any community in Pennsylvania to assist in the production of a play. The charge for this service consists of the expenses of the coach plus a small fee for service. The Division is also prepared to give advice on the construction of a theater or auditorium and to draw up plans for the installation of electrical equipment and scenery designs. For a nominal fee the Penn State Players will produce one of their regular performances in any Pennsylvania community.
FROM May 22nd to 28th, the fourth annual National Folk Festival will be held in Chicago, Illinois, under the auspices of the Adult Education Council of Chicago and its ninety cooperating agencies. Miss Sarah Gertrude Knott writes that she will be interested in hearing from recreation executives, particularly from those in the Midwest who are developing a particular phase of folk expression which they would like to have represented in the National Folk Festival. Miss Knott may be addressed at 220 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
Fourth Annual National
dedicated to sport an arena that will seat 7,100 people for ice hockey and 10,000 for sports that do not require a large rink. The new arena, which has been eight months in building, is the largest span monolithic concrete structure in America and the only one of its kind in the United States. It is rectangular in shape, 232 feet wide and 362 feet long. There is not a pillar or a column anywhere visible. Though Hershey is a town of only 2,500, it is fast coming to be known as an outstanding sports center, drawing people from a radius of 75 miles. It has four golf courses and the championship links of the Hershey Country Club. A stadium accommodating 30,000 spectators will be completed next year.
the Forest in cooperation with the New York State Museum and the Allegany State Park Commission, has announced that the eleventh season of the school will open on July 4, extending through August 21st. College credit courses designed for teachers, students, camp leaders and naturalists will be offered in the field of zoology, entomology, botany, nature study and birds by instructors experienced in field and laboratory work. Dr. Robert B. Gordon of Ohio State University will be director of the school. Information may be secured from Miss Esther W. Eno, registrar at the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Buffalo, New York.