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the improvement of living conditions in the smaller towns of the county. Reports of a rather difficult situation induced Miss Fiedler to go to Pescadero first. Prior to taking up her work there she called at our office and had an extended consultation with our Executive Secretary, and also studied the workings of Community Service in several districts in San Francisco.
After two months Miss Fiedler called again and I am sure that her story will be as fascinating to our readers as it was to the Secretary.
Here it is:
“When I went down to Pescadero I looked around to see what kind of constructive and preventive work I could do, and I began to study Community Service and thought it would be the best program for the community. I wrote to the people who sent me there that I believe in it more and more, and even more than it ever seemed possible to believe in it. To me it is a vital and creative force that if started in the right way goes ahead and builds itself.
“When I went into the town I would not listen to any tales of dissensions or factions of any kind, although I knew the town to be full of them. After being there six weeks, when the Center was going by itself, I discovered that upon the House Committee were two very influential women who had not spoken to each other in over twenty years, and they had been on this committee working together for over six weeks, and I did not even know of their former differences.
"Father Kevany, the priest at Pescadero and Half Moon Bay, said to me one day, 'The Community Center is the strongest influence that has ever come to this town and I don't exclude the church when I made that statement.' Early in the history of the Center Father Kevany spoke of it from his pulpit and asked a blessing upon it.
“Father Kevany now devotes all his time to Half Moon Bay. His successor in Pescadero is a Portuguese. He attends the Center every night, as he finds it the best means possible to get in touch with his people.
"Friday nights from 150 to 175 people attend out of a total population of 600, and we call it ‘Family Night.' On that night the children have sway, but the older people are so interested in the Center they will not stay away, but come in and continue their games around the edge of the room, while the children play in the center, On Saturday night about 200 attend and the place is always open to 12 or 1 o'clock. There are two very large tables, four collapsible and two smaller ones, and all are kept going as game tables, beside the billiard table and other forms of amusement. When we opened we decided to close at 9. But now this is impossible. And on Friday and Saturday nights it is going continuously from 1 in the afternoon until 1 in the morning, dancing and all sorts of amusements.
"We organized on the 12th and went into the building on the 20th, not one word was said about money until the 18th, two days before we occupied the place. Everybody offered their bit and we charge 25 cents a month dues and have a monthly income of $35 from this source, besides a considerable number of sustaining members at large amounts.”
A Season of Outdoor Activity
A season of outdoor activity unexcelled in the history of the city closed Bridgeport's summer of play for 1920. Nearly all forms of organized play in which boys and girls are interested were included in the varied program-kite flying, boat sailing races, doll shows, a pet show, a vaudeville and a track meet were added to the activities of the preceding year. The wandering gypsy storytellers were assigned to various districts on a rather definite schedule. Adults and children together listened to the tales told on the street corners, in back yards and on corner lots. Stories over, games were played before the gypsy said goodbye.
The weekly band concerts, because of their high cost, were confined to two parks. Early in the spring requests for block parties had come from all sections of the city and a schedule was arranged so that there was a block party in the east, west, north and south parts of the community each week. Very often the storytellers who were in the district where the party was to be held would begin about supper time and work toward the street which was roped off for the dance concluding with circle games in the space to be used later for dancing. Sometimes a children's waltz opened the block party.
Steeple Chase Island was turned over to the Board of Recreation by the Park Department as a municipal camp site. Tents to accommodate from sixty to seventy-five people were put up and week-end parties were housed at a nearby cottage which was also made available. Several large industrial groups made good use of these facilities throughout the summer. Efficiency tests were conducted for the regular campers, the requirements for the award calling for much valuable information. For example, the girls' test included besides athletic stunts, knowledge of flowers, two folk songs, two folk dances, first aid, swimming and Schaffer's method of resuscitation. The honor system which was introduced at the beginning of the summer worked very successfully.
The volley ball season, opening the first of June, was filled with practice and challenge games between the teams, each of which had their own home grounds. An indoor league for the winter was definitely planned for at the close of the season. Baseball and tennis also kept the diamonds and courts busy, and the bath house at Seaside park was open every day in the week to the crowds that enjoyed the refreshment of being away from the city.
Cooperation with the other organizations of the city has been the aim of the Board of Recreation. This year because of the plan for putting over a “better baby” campaign the Recreation Board arranged a Baby Show at each of the playgrounds, at which time nurses from the Board of Health were present to talk to the mothers and to encourage them to bring their babies, well or sick, to the health centers.
The Summer Resort as a Playground
Henry S. Curtis, Ph. D., Oberlin, Ohio
There has been a good deal of objection and some ridicule on the part of the uninitiated of the idea of organized play, and one hears the term “unbossed play" often used with approval. But no undertaking that amounts to much is ever carried through without someone to organize it, and while there will be spontaneous activities here and there which will provide the needed recreation for individuals, nothing which is not planned, ever reaches the group as a whole.
The greatest weakness of the summer resort is undoubtedly the lack of such a play organizer as is found on the
modern playground. Very many people go to the summer resort and sit about on the verandas or spend their time in playing whist or poker, simply because they do not know anything else to do, and there is no one to show them. People at summer resorts need to get away from the type of activities which they have followed during the year, to live out of doors, to use their large muscles and stabilize their nervous systems. They need to play golf and tennis and ride horseback and walk, and camp out and swim, and do many other things of this sort, but if there is no one to get these things started, they are apt not to be done.
Comparatively few summer resorts have any list of things to see or do in their neighborhood, and as a rule the hotel clerk is both without knowledge or imagination in the matter. If the people at a summer resort are to have a good time, they must become acquainted and have something to do together. There are summer hotels that are full every year in spite of the fact that they have few natural advantages, because there is someone there who sees that the guests have a good time, while there are many other resorts that have gone to smash simply because there was no one who perceived the opportunities for recreation or organized the people to secure it. Every summer resort ought to have a recreation director similar to the play leaders on our city playgrounds. He might well be the most important person in the summer colony and double the popularity and value of many resorts.
A Modern Swimming Hole Theodore Wirth, Superintendent of Parks, Minneapolis, Minnesota, writes in the September issue of The American City:
“Camden Baths, in the north section of Minneapolis, is as close to the ideal swimming hole as a modern bathing place can be. Shingle Creek is dammed at a certain point, and the pent-up water is given outlet through the bathing pools proper, and allowed to empty into the creek below the dam. It is truly the oldfashioned swimming hole, with the snags and treacherous uncertainities eliminated, the bottom concreted at certain and uniform depths, and the dressers of green foliage replaced by fixtures of more safety and security. It is the swimming hole without the dangers, chances and inconveniences, and made modern by walled dressing space, steel lockers, concreted pools and adequate supervision. The pure, fresh air remains, for there is no roof.
“The construction of a concrete dam, having a head of 8 feet, caused a lake to form, the overflow from the dam being run through pools. A fishway is provided on one side, and on the other two sluiceways with hand-operated gates, each about 27/2 feet in diameter, are constructed to aid in the rapid disposition of flood waters. The spillway is about 24 feet long and the crest slightly above the intake of the pools.
“The pools, one shallow and one deep, are located above the dam, their length parallel with the spillway of the dam, and the natural flow of the creek about 45 degrees to the dam and also to the pool. The pools are flanked on one side by the locker rooms and on the other by a memorial field house, and an 8foot concrete wall functions for the green foliage of boyhood days, in obstructing the view of the intruder. About 40 feet upstream from the dam the water is let into the shallow pool through a 20-foot passage. The pool itself
The pool itself is from 3 to 4 feet deep, 60 feet wide, 125 feet long. concrete-lined, with a 10-foot concrete platform all around it. At the lower end the water is allowed to pass into the diving pool, which is likewise of concrete, 9 feet deep, about 45 feet wide and 45 feet long, allowing the excess water to flow over as in dam construction and falling 10 feet to the creek below the dam.
"As has been mentioned, the locker rooms are at the side of the shallow pool, and it is through these rooms that bathers enter the baths. In the men's side there are 22 dressing rooms and about 250 lockers, most of the men using the benches between the lockers in preference to dressers. The women have 24 dressers for about 175 lockers, all using dressers, there being no benches in this department. There are showers in connection with the dressing-rooms as well as toilet accommodations.
“These baths are always well attended, and on hot days as many as 3,000 bathers have made use of the facilities.
A Boy in Camp The following letter taken from the School Union published by the Sacramento Union tells what a vacation spent at Sacramento's Municipal Camp meant to one small boy.