Archive for Saturday, April 12, 2014

100 years ago: Small backyards resulting in lack of character-building activities, speaker says

April 12, 2014

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for April 12, 1914:

  • "The training of the back yard with its work shop, its garden and its chicken pens and a stable perhaps, is an essential feature in the education of the boy. And when this training is made impossible by the smallness of the lot the boy is the loser. This was the statement made this afternoon by Prof. W. A. McKeever of the Department of Child Welfare, speaking before the meeting of the Federation of Women's Clubs.... 'I forewarn you Lawrence mothers against the possible error of thinking that your boys are to become substantial citizens of this commonwealth without their having participated in some form of ordinary labor.... This town has seemingly been laid out with the thought of rearing an aristocracy. The lots are only 50x117 feet, whereas, in the usual case the depth is 150 feet. A plot of ground containing 1,650 square feet is therefore missing from the back end of each resident lot and with it has gone the opportunity for giving our boys some form of wholesome industrial training. No room for a work shop, a garden, or a chicken pen. On the way to the University yesterday, I counted the first one hundred residences and noted that there were back of these only five little 2x1 gardens and six other tiny plots that had been dug up. In two or three instances the home seemed to possess a hen or two cooped up in a small enclosure. Under such a condition of things our boys are shut off from the wholesome effects of every day industry. I fear for the results. Judged from this situation, our entire philosophy of life here in Lawrence is thoroughly out of date. We seem to be proceeding under the erroneous belief that we should still train boys merely in books, in social affairs, and the so-called refined University culture.... I declare again that we are making the way of life for our boys too much of an upholstered affair. We are making them smooth, polite, gentle, soft-handed and flabby-muscled.... The only way we have to bring out the heroic in their lives is to allow them to sit on the bleachers at a ball game and yell, or go to school and read about the bloody battles of our ancestors. No chance for heroic experiences, no stress and strain, no taking of a serious risk, no floundering about to find the way, no struggle and turmoil and anguish of soul -- none of these great character-building experiences are allowed to enter the lives of our boys.'"
  • "Paul Elliott of Lawrence has secured a patent on another aeroplane device which promises much for the aerial world. Elliott's new invention is a plane rib by the use of which it is possible to change the curve of the planes. This new device will make it possible to increase the speed of the machines in the air and also by the use of these it will be possible to make the start shorter. The greater the speed in the air the safer the aviator feels and the sooner he is off the ground the safer also. The patent on this device was obtained in the remarkably short period of two months. Application was made on February 3rd and the patent was granted on April 4."
  • "One way to beautify this town would be for the merchants to give over a part of their front windows to flowers. There is not a store of any size in this town that does not have some clerk who delights to take care of flowers. Our street would be brightened in this way by day.... Some cities are using the store windows for this purpose."

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