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E HAVE BEEN taking pictures lately of the Adult Recreation Project. These pictures are providing the government with a faithful and accurate record of varied forms of recreation offered to the citizens of Boston, under sponsorship of the Works Progress Administration. They show groups of amateurs in all sections of the city taking part in community entertainments. They picture men and women in arts and crafts centers learning new skills with their hands. They give flashes of community orchestras and choral groups putting on music festivals in their neighborhoods. There is a series devoted to lecture and discussion groups showing people of all classes meeting in friendly fashion to get a little closer to the actualities of life and to each other and to learn from the open forum the great lessons of mutual understanding and tolerance.
These pictures, to me, are more engrossing than the most brilliant Hollywood film, for the reason that they are real. They are part of a human record being
written in our own city by our own people. Perhaps if you saw them you might think the little dramas they picture must be very crude theatrical efforts. The orchestras might look very amateurish to you. The discussion groups might seem to represent a hit-and-miss cross-section of our population. And I suppose you would be right in this surface judgment !
But it is for this very reason that they mean so much to me. They are typical of a cross-section of our city population. They do show men and women of all ages, from all districts, who are characteristic of the Boston we know as "the Hub' the Boston which has its North End and its South End, its far-flung suburban districts and its compact West End. The thing I like best about them is that they show all kinds, ages and conditions of people enjoying themselves, apparently refreshing their minds and bodies and storing up new mental experi
Behind the pictures what? In a series of talks broadcast over Station WCOP, Boston, W. Duncan Russell, General Director, Community Service of Boston, who is now serving as Executive Director of the Adult Recreation Project, WPA, Boston, has told of some of the human records being written as adults are given increased opportunity to find expression through leisure time activities. In his first broadcast, presented here, Mr. Russell tells what is back of some of the pictures which have been taken at some of the various centers in operation.
Perhaps these experiences might not seem to you very
"NEVER TOO OLD TO PLAY"
thrilling, but I know they have been life-saving to many men and women. I see in these photographs people-just plain people- casting off the cares, the worries and work of the day, and finding a new joy in taking part in a drama, learning to play chess or checkers, weaving rugs and tooling leather, singing in community choruses or playing an instrument in a neighborhood orchestra.
Another thing that strikes me forcibly as I look over this pictorial record of a government recreation project is the number of gray heads in the pictures. In order to make this record, a camera man goes from one to another of the centers maintained by adult recreation in nineteen different sections of the city, and snaps the participants and the audiences. His pictures show older people among the actors and registrants. They show at great many older people in the audiences. A checker game in one of the game rooms shows an old man who looks like a retired sea captain, surrounded by a group of solemn-looking young men. who are watching his moves with rapt intensity. There is another picture of a venerable colored man whose face would intrigue a Rembrandt with its fine gentleness and its furrows cut in by the years. He is making a hooked rug. On inquiry I find that this old man who attends one of the crafts centers in the Outer South End is learning this new art at the age of seventy-five-in order that he may make himself useful in his last years.
In another picture, brought to me recently, is a group of elderly gentlewomen, whose fineness is of special Boston type. They are gathered in the back garden of what was once one of the city's fashionable residences in the South End-now a settlement house - listening intently to a young lecturer who is evidently making an impression upon them. The picture tells an affecting story of the eagerness of these old women to be informed on modern matters, and of the pleasant way they are spending an afternoon, with a youthful speaker bearing to them across the years a message of timely interest.
In still another picture taken recently in the English High School Center maintained by the School Committee Division on the Extended Use of Public Schools, the audience is sprinkled with gray-haired men and women who have passed the meridian of life.
Now, I have been what we term a "recreation worker" most of my life. I believe heartily in the philosophy of that great founder of the recrea
tion movement in America, Joseph Lee, that play is a necessary part of education.
In all sports programs for boys and girls launched under proper leadership we try to help the development of those play faculties which make better-rounded lives. We encourage play for the sake of the game itself, for the joy of it and for the keen pleasure of competition.
We all know that boys and girls must play—it is their birthright and their heritage. But conditions revealed during the last few years have opened our eyes and our minds to new needs and new possibilities in a recreation program for adults. In this city today there are thousands of men and women who need recreation for the same reason and to the same degree that boys and girls need it. How few of us ever stop to think that the average normal human being is never too old to play! Of course I do not mean to play baseball or football or to take part in rough and tumble games. But I do mean never too old to go in for an interest—a hobby; never too old to attend a theater performance, to listen to music, to enjoy a good discussion or perhaps a timely lecture on a favorite topic, or to learn new arts and crafts or develop new manual dexterities.
Under modern conditions people past their early youth are faced with more leisure and greater opportunity for relaxation than our mothers and fathers would have dreamed possible. Electricity has turned on the switch and set a new pace for all of us. Shorter hours of work and the crowded living conditions of our cities have made it an obligation of society to provide opportunities for the employment of the time we now call "our own."
This need has been recognized and met by the government and I am here today to tell you something about the demonstration that has been given in the City of Boston, under the Adult Recreation Project, to prove that society can meet this need intelligently and that it can do its part to supplement the commercial forms of recreation provided by movies, theaters, automobiles, radios and those entertainments for which we pay our money.
I wonder how many of you listening in really know what I mean when I speak of the "Adult Recreation Project." I wonder how many who do know about it, and have taken part in its neighborhood entertainments, realize its importance and its extent!
"NEVER TOO OLD TO PLAY"
Do yon know, for instance, that under government auspices nineteen little theaters have produced to date 500 plays in which all the actors and actresses have been volunteers living in the neighborhoods of the theater?
Do you happen to know that in fourteen arts and crafts centers a total attendance of 107,000 men and women have been taught to "do something" with their hands and their brains, to develop creative instincts and manual skills?
It may be news to learn that every night, in some part of the city, clerks and stenographers, mechanics and lawyers, men and women from all trades and professions are meeting voluntarily for rehearsals for community choral events or for neighborhood orchestra concerts! At the same time, you will find young and old gathering in halls and private homes, in branch libraries and settlement houses, wherever space can be found, to listen to lectures by experts in some field of art, science or government, or to take part in a local discussion group under trained leadership where topics of current interest are fairly and impartially threshed out.
Just add to this the picture of twenty-three reading and game rooms open all day and into the evening, where adults can put in their leisure time learning the intricacies of chess from a past master of the game; studying the proper moves to make in a close game of checkers; learning that ping pong is not such an easy game after all, or brushing up on the latest rules for bridge. When I tell you that these game rooms record an attendance of one million since their opening in February, 1933, you will get some idea of the need they have filled in the emergency period of depression through which we have just passed, and of the need they are still filling.
Now I am going to ask you to use your imagination still further in forming this picture of free recreation for the people of the City of Boston. Picture these little theatres, orchestral and choral groups, arts and crafts classes, lecture and discussion groups and reading and game rooms as community affairs conducted for and by the community. Picture them being locally sponsored by the recreation division of the local planning committee, and see them geared to neighborhoods' needs, to the preferences and peculiarities of their section.
In other words, you will find that over in Brighton-Allston they like to put on operas, so they have managed some Gilbert and Sullivan nights that have attracted city-wide attention. Out in Germantown they love a discussion group and having a good time getting together, somewhat as our Yankee forebears did at husking bees and country-store, cracker-barrel, free-for-all forums. So they put on a community night at their center, which happens to be a hall, and the local committees plan the program. The leading actors, singers, speakers and dancers live so near that they can walk home after the affair is over.
This is the kind of thing that is happening in all parts of Boston because the government was farvisioned and wise enough to realize when the emergency of unemployment came that men and (Continued on page 396)
At a reading and game room an expert puts "poser" up to the boys
A Traveling Museum
HE TULSA, OKLAHOMA, Junior Zoological Society is building an interesting traveling museum. The first occupant of this unique museum will be the Barred Owl chosen because Oklahoma is one of the few remaining states which does not give legal protection to any
The story of Tulsa's traveling
of the owls and the need for education regarding this particular bird is great. The display is a case with a stuffed owl inside placed in a natural background with painted trees and sky and clouds, which make the bird seem to be still living. In front of the owl is glass and the inside of the case is electrically lighted so that colors, markings and beauty of the bird may better be seen by the observer. The case has double sides. One of the side panels can be opened out, forming a display board on which is the information about the specimen in the case. On another side of the case is information about the whole owl family with photographs showing all the different owls. For different grade students a different set of display cards are placed
on the side fins of the traveling museum. In this way the same case can be used for all grades merely by changing the information card.
It is the plan of the Junior Zoological Society to have enough of the
cases to Cover several different family groups of birds, as well as mammals and even reptiles. When the plan has been expanded all types of science will be
Courtesy Parks and Recreation
displayed, such as plants, geology, insects and the conservation of soil.
The distribution place for all of the traveling museum cases will probably be the Tulsa Zoological Garden museum, for it will be from the material in the museum that the case displays will be made up. Such an outlet for the specimens in the museum, it is thought, will be of great educational value. The displays will be distributed from the museum, and after study by classes will be returned and held until another school is ready for the display.
One of the interesting phases of the project will be the assistance which the students can provide. It is planned to furnish the various science classrooms with a blank background of papier-maché curved in such a way that there are no corners, thus making the painting of scenery appear in the distance. The students can paint the backgrounds and assemble the foreground material for a nat(Continued on page 396)
A Plan for the Improvement of Huron Valley
HE SMALL rivers of America for the most part have been forgotten by our lawmakers, as anyone. who has read the reports of our water resources commissions,
There are vast, unrecognized possibilities
By HENRY S. CURTIS, Ph.D.
power commissions or even our common water law must have realized. Yet for every river in America the size of the Tennessee, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of small rivers the size of the Huron. These small streams are not navigable for commercial craft, and they have little value for power, but they are pretty evenly distributed over America. Properly developed, they offer facilities for canoeing, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking and residence that are accessible to all our people. Such streams are particularly important for Michigan, which derives so large a part of its income from the recreation which it furnishes.
The Huron River is easily accessible to more than two millions of people, with metropolitan Detroit only twenty miles away from the lower river, Toledo but little farther, and Flint only about twenty miles from its source.. The people who can reach the Huron in a forty minute trip. pay more than half of the taxes of the state and may justly claim a consideration for it that would not be warranted in the case of a wilderness river.
The recreational needs of each of these two and a half million people constitute a claim for consideration, and we should naturally expect that the Huron would be the demonstration river of Michigan, where the state would show to the world its consideration for the happiness of its people. Instead of this, we find a river defiled with the sewage of its cities, obstructed with many dumps, rocks and fallen trees, an instance of almost total neglect.
The Objectives The objectives I have to
present constitute an outline plan for the improvement of the valley. They are not an engineering plan or a landscape plan, but rather a suggestion of a master plan of which
they are a part. It is not complete, in that it does not cover land use or reforestation but only the more immediate objectives of valley improvement. These objectives, as I see them, are ten in number.
Removing the Pollution from the Stream. The first objective should be the removal of the pollution. No one wishes to swim or fish, boat or picnic, or have a residence on a sewage pool. If the cities throwing their sewage into a stream were required to put it in above the city, so that they would suffer the consequences themselves, our rivers would soon be cleared, but cities always throw their sewage in below, so it is the neighbors of these cities who have to suffer. Their action is a violation of fundamental human rights and of the common law which says riparian owners have the right to have a stream come to them undiminished in quantity and unpolluted in quality. Such public abuse has long been against the sanitary law in this state.
The first difficulty is with the law itself, as no group has at present the adequate staff or authority to carry out its provisions, and the law does not seem to envision its main problem. It says that a city may be required to take its sewage out of a stream "if it is found to be injurious to fish life or to the public health." Sewage drives all the better grades of fish out of the area and reduces the growth of carp, but it can not be said to be particularly injurious to the life of this fish. It is not injurious to the public health if people do not use the water, but it drives away every form of human activity and depreciates the value of property for miles below,
Definite and far-reaching objectives for the