The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on June 29, 1913 · 60
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 60

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Sunday, June 29, 1913
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60
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THE BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE JUNE 29, 1913. Nprwood Civic Association Solving Many Social Probl ems. Class times taring George E Willett, a Well-Known Business Man, Has - ' . Built Up in Norwood a Civic Center With a Membership of 700, Which Is Doing Much to . Wipe Out Distinction, Some-Found in Manufac- Centers sociation Has a of Buildings, Playgrounds, and Instruction in Domestic Science and Sanitary Lining Is Gi'ben Mr Willett Hopes to Extend the Work Begun in Norwood to Other Industrial Cities. V The As- r Fine Group Extensive By A. J. PHILPOTT. ERY modestly and very rjuietly there has been developed and constructed a civic institution in the heart of the town of Norwood, which some people believe will go a long way toward solving some of the great social and sociological problems that are confrorilng nearly every city and town in this country. Th,e plans and scope of this Civic Centre, or Civic Association, as it is called, are so big and comprehensive tnd have been so carefully and so well worked out, that one wonders what manner of man, or what forces, operated bring it to its present state of 'realization. It seems at first glance like the sort of Utopian dream one reads about in a book like Bellamy's "Looking Backward," which might be possible in the dim and distant future, but certainly net the kind of thins to be 'realized In this devil-take-the-hindmost world in which we live at present. It seems like the work of the kind of person the world calls, in its moments of placid self-contentment, a "visionary" or a "dreamer" words which are intended to convey to the mind the fine. practical common sense of the person using them and the hopeless ingenuousness or unsophisticated character of the other. Well just to satisfy curiosity it might be well to state right here that this civic enterprise is the work of a visionary, and a mighty practical visionary at that; for it took a man with big, fine vision to frame this idea up and carry it forward, and a man of unusually large caliber to make it so big, so practical and so comprehensive in all of its details and in its relation to the necessities of our complex civilization., And also it took a man with a good deal of the enthusiasm of youth in him to do this thing; for there is about it the spirit of hope and strength and op-m"nSm that animates healthy young The man who conceived this civic enterprise and pushed it to its present status is George P. Willett of Norwood, 42 years old, of whom you probably never heard, although he is one of the very big business men of this country, with manufacturing and Industrial interests in half a dozen or more States of the Union and with business connections all over the world. If you are wearing a felt hat he The Lost Song. A By ANDREW W. PEACH. S Leland went down the street he caught opening chords of a piano. A voice began to sing, and he stopped suddenly, spellbound. The voice he had never heard before: it was a girl's untrained voice; but the first few bars of the song stirred dim memories within him, and as the Song went on in the girl's careless singing, he knew what had happened. "Is It possible?" he muttered to him- self as he hurried in the direction of the unknown signer. "That is my 'Lost Song'!" His steps were nervous and hasty, but before he could reach the place where the music seemed to come from it had ceased. The houses stood darkly to gether; there were lights in most of them. He did not know in which one the singer had been. He stepped to the curb to plan his next move. Like a vision out of the night came the moment when he had parted from the girl who was about to sing the song. She had been standing by the piano; he was seated at it. Before him was the music of the song he had just written. Then nad come the quick quarrel; his hot-headed answer to her criticism of the song. Her surprise had amused him; but she had been hurt at his words and he in anger left. It had been a foolish quarrel, as all quarrels are when seen in after years. He had gone to a Northern city and had found life hard. He had met it with good will; but he had never for-gotten her. Time and again he had feeen on the point of going to her. Finally, des perate almost in his need of her, he had written, and word had come that it was not known where she was. He had sat dumbly before that brief letter for hours, then feeling it was his ctserved punishment and that some of he? admirers had won her, he had given htAip. In some strange way, try as he could, he could jiot recall the song which he I. ad left on the piano. Bits of it came back, but the theme as a whole was beyond him. H had finished It just before they went to the. piano. His sudden anger there had seemed to knock the melody from his head, and he had not been able to recover the fleeting strain. Now he had heard It. He knew there could be no doubt about It; and if he could find the singer it must lead him back to htr! He studied the houses with eager earnestness"- He decided that the music he had heard farther - up the street cams from the one with the light In the front room. He went up and, ringing the bell, waited. Steps came to the door. He wondered 11 it would be she. The dour opened and a girl looked out curiously. "I beard some one singing a song I was greatljf interested in: I wonder if jxu cai give' me an idea Where .the j singer was it was somewhere around ?n this part?' he asked. "No, I'm sure I can't, sir. There's a number of pianos about here," she said, smiling a little, "and a number of people who think they can sing. I'm afraid I can't heln you. but T'll trv" svi pointed out houses near by. He went down the steps and looked around, beginning to doubt himself. It was rather unusual for a young fellow to be going from house to house asking if some one there had been singing a song of which he knew not the tune, other than a strain or two. He determined to try it, however, and so he began. He went to four houses, but got no response; he tried four more. He was treated with civility in two, and told to make himself scarce in two others. In the next where he tried he was made joyful by a girl saying that she had just been singing, but she proved not to be the one singing the mysterious song. Finally, even as he expected, a policeman appeared on the scene, having been summoned by some one who had said the young man was intoxicated. Leland proved that he was not, convinced the man of his sanity; and asked the officer's advice. The latter was evidently reached by the story and he said in his soft Irish; "If ye can i whistle a bit o' the tune, lad. why not? Jest the parts ye know! Walk up an' down, an if anyone says a word, I'll say a word, provided ye don't do it too long." Leland undertook the plan. He strolled up and down in the region whistling the strains to the place where he could go no further. He did it a number of times, and both men waited for the answer. "Try it again, mon," the bluecoat said. He whistled it again, and this time there was a quaver in it a quiver of lost hope. Leland turned away, dis-pairing. "Hark ye, lad!" Faint and clearly, a , whistle had caught up the strain and was carrying It on to a finish. Leland was shaking with eagerness. "It's the song! the song!" "Don't get too sure it's your gal, lad. Jt may b-j one who sang it fust hey, see, there'f some one coming! We didn't think o' the little house in back! There she is!" A shadowy figure came toward them hesitatingly. But Leland had recognized the form, and he went t meet it. It'eamo into his arms with a low, joyous cry and said; "O, Lee. is it really you? I was in .my room, asleep, when the girl at the house I'd taught her the song because she loved it said some one was whistling it then I heard it and I Knew it could be no otherthan you. It recms so good to see you; and we'll forget, won't we?" - The bUr'y policeman, looking on with pleased eyes and comments to himself. euddenly ivmyk his back and marched off probably had something to do with it, for he is one of the largest manufacturers of felt in the world; if you are wearing shoes with sheepskin uppers he probably furnished the sheepskin as he is the largest manufacturer of sheepskins in the world; and if you are wearing a woolen suit he probably had something to dq with furnishing the wool for he handles a great deal of that natural commodity. But he is a very modest young man so you probably never heard of him, even though he occupies for his offices the t entire top floor of the First National Bank Building in Federal st, and he may be seen most any evening bowling out in the alleys of the Norwood Civic Association in one of the championship teams, or occasionally afternoons out on tha Country Club links playing golf, at which he is also an ex pert. Not that he gives all of his spare time to bowling and golf, for he found time from his recreations and his business cares to show the town of Norwood how to reduce its tax rate the past year from something over $20 a thous and to something like $12 a thousand, for which he has been thanked and well there are some people in the town who don't wholly, approve of a low tax rate. So much for the man, George F. Wil Ictt, and he probably won't thank the writer for even these few modest para graphs about himself and his work. However, it is inevitable that he, like other men. shall be known by his works, and although, he dislikes pub licity of a personal nature he cannot very well help coining into the spot light in the corner of the stage for a few moments while this exploit in which he figures is being related and illustrated 1 Mr Willett's Vision. Mr Willett lonj ago saw that a stron line of cleavage existed or was begin ning to manifest itself in all industrial centers and that there was danger to the country and to all classes in the widening or deepening of this line of cleavage. He saw that there were communities growing up inside of communities, more or less foreign to each other, and with frictions, misunderstandings, petty Jealousies and other things that boded no very great good for the fu ture. The line of cleavage began in the industries and persisted in social life and that seemed to him to be its greatest danger and menace. The growing lack of sympathy between the various groups in the social fabric seemed to him ominous, and although he was cognizant of the various religious and philanthropic efforts that were being- made to meet this growing-evil, he felt that none of these efforts were wholly compatible or equal to the emergency. They lacked the full breadth of the Fbcial spirit necessary to cement such w dely differing and '"ffuse elements, life felt that what was necessary was full social sympathy that should bring with it a growing sense of social and civic responsibility. So he conceived a civic "center in which men, women and children of all classes in the community could meet for recreation, for acquaintance, for health, education, social betterment, and out of which perhaps something of civic pride would naturally come. It was a big vision and a big undertaking, and only a great, successful business man could in this age hope to realize such a vision. But here it is! And it is pretty well developed and worked out, although many things remain yet to be done to be felt out, a3 it were. Here in the center of the town, bounded by the railroad on one side and by Washington, Winter and Hoyle sts, on the other three sides, is a five-acre piece of land, on one corner of which has grown a beautiful group of buildings, with gymnasiums for both Bexes, entertainment. and lecture halls, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, a great swimming pool, shower baths, playrooms for boys and playrooms for girls, recreation jooms and reading rooms, rooms for dancing, for a boys' brigade and for all sorts of things. And the grounds outside have been fitted up for outdoor tames of all kinds baseball, football, open-air gymnasium and track athletics. -. r- To further emphasize its value It 6UuI0i p$ mentioned, 1Mi She Jown meetings are held in the large Assembly Hall; the Board of Trade also meets here, and there are accommodations for those interested in town planning, bousing and other community problems. On another corner of the grounds is a large building for social service work, in which there is a dental clinic, an eye and ear clinic, an emergency hospital, fine kitchens and laundries, in which women and girls may be instructed, rooms and sleeping apartments for district and school nurses and all under the supervision of a matron, Miss Elizabeth Ross, well grounded in all the requirements of her position. Membership of 700. Briefly that is what the Norwood Civic Association include), in the shape of facilities, and it has already a membership of more than 700. It has grown up within a few years so naturally and so quietly that it has not made anything like a sensation which is just what Mr Willett desired. It is not wholly philanthropic however; for that would defeat the dignity and social purpose of the association ibut the fees are so graded and so mod erate that the benefits of. the association are practically open to everybody in the town. And It is not religious in a denomina tional sense, but is Christian in the broadest sense of the word Christian in the .spirit of its brotherhood and in the spirit of its helpfulness. So that people of every sect and denomination can meet in this civic center on com mon grounds. And the beauty of it is, they do so meet in a common bond of civic feeling that carries with it health and the very best of impulses toward that social unity and fellowship which is the basis of the broader fellowship that makes for State and National cori sclousness. There are neither sectarian nor race lines in the Norwood Civic As sociation, and each member takes a per sonal interest in the welfare of the en terprise. And there is something of the spirit of domestic sociability in the very architectural character of the buildings. 1 . There is notning imposing atvout them, but there is something of distinction in the very homelike character of the . entire group. You do not feel that you are entering some temple when you approach the colonial porch and balcony that graces the modest entrance. Originally there was a residence house and a barn on the corner of the lot where the civic group has grown. It was one of those simple, dignified residences of the period about 1850, an outgrowth of the colonial style, and was known as' the Kverett house from the family that built and occupied ijU 1 j lift r rfr,r VWK r ! r M f &r (ft If& tmJLY LoJlwS, f - " , --r Ut - , tew' .... 1 A 4r j t Old Buildings Remodeled. This old house and barn were re modeled several years ago by a local minister, and used as a sort of social centre an connection with varinno church activities. It was probably this very work which gave Mr Willett tiis primal idea from which the larger conception grew, for he saw the prob lems the minister was tacklina: from a little different angle. He was familiar with the cold, hard facts of industrial life, and he real ized that any efforts looking to 'the solution of the problems must have the benofit of the vitalizing influ ences of all classes in the community. bo he took over the two buildings. and got an architect to make them the nucleus of a group in which the ex terior architectural character should be preserved. And the architect has done bis work well, for the group has been pienaidly knit together, and looks like a great residence from the outside, but insiae well Inside it has tl hanged to meet the, requirements of a. civic center. t That old original house would not hA ecognized by the man that built it Inside for it is now a sort of counting room with a curving desk counter, behind which are tables and desks for the young men and women who tend to the actual business of the enterprise, with little offices for the secretary, A. K, Skinner, and th business manager! Walter E. Marshall, and with stenogl raphers and clerks lllj any business office. Mr Skinner comes from Dartmouth College, where he graduated about two years ago, and was later secretary to Pre? Nichols until Mr Willett induced him to take up this at . rtomjood. him well for this work, and he is In entire sympathy with the idea and is fully conscious of tha community problems which it Is intended to meet. Walter E. Marshall has just the kind of tact and temper . that fits him for his position, and he, too, knows well the ideal which Mr Willett hopes to see realized. To get the best results in such an in-etitution these young men must work as guides and helpers rather than as officials, for it is important that all members should feel a sense of their own personal responsibility in the enterprise; for each member is an owner or shareholder. -tesiaes tnese two young men there fire two physical instructors. R. E. Gourlie for the men and boys, and Miss Florence M. Ross for the women and girls, both -eminently fitted for their positions and full of the spirit of fa work in which they are engaged. Many Outdoor Games. Just to see these two at work on the playgrounds with the- boys and the girls is something of an inspiration There is a good deal more health, and energy, and nappiness among the boys ana girls or Korwood since these gym imoiuiiio nuu me playgrounds were opened and the games and exercises were directed by Mr Gourlie and Miss Ross, The physical condition of each member is tested and the exercises planned and supervised by the physical directors who do the directing in a fine, social way But to come back to the building and i-riurdi onice irom wnich everything radiates. On the left is the great assembly hall and women's gymnasium inis doesn t look much like the old barn of the Everett homestead. It has been enlarged and fitted with a fine stage and gallery, and it will easily seat 1000 people In the daytime and on certain evenlng3 it Is used as a worn en's gymnasium; on other evenings it is used for entertainments, theatricals, basket-ball games, etc, There are dressing rooms and little reception rooms off the balcony, and there are dressing rooms and lockers and lavatories and shower baths down stairs. It is splendidly equipped throughout, -well lighted, heated and ventilated On one side is the physical director's room, in which members are tested and examined and off this Is another build ing containing the men's gymnasium also finely equipped with facilities for hand ball and all of the regular, gym nasium practice. It is large, well light ed, and is in rainy respects a model of its kind Underneath are lockers and showers, v.hich connect by subterranean passages with another building in which a great swimming pool 60 feet long, 24 feet wide . ' - w ainc . uccp, la lilt; principal feature. Overhead is a glass reofed balcony for( running or lounging ana to oe usea Dy spectators when there are swimming contests and water games. on the big pool are shower baths and lockers and all kinds of facilities. Th whole arrangement seems well-nigh per- ieci, ana crtainiy no expense has been sparea m me conntruction of the great hwimming pool and the vast, splendid! v- llghted building in which it is the cen tral leature. , Coming back from the swimming pool we enter a beautiful little hall finished In white opening on two piazzas. Thl3 hall is used for women's meetlnge smaller 3odal gatherings, lectures, etc! ! Ill Champion Bowlers. Imderne&th arts the bowling alleys six of them two for women and girls and four for men and boys. They have several championship teams in the alleys and Mr Willett is an enthusiastic member of one of them. The trophies of these teams may be seen in the office. Off the bowling alleys is a room with several pool tables nd tables for checkers and other mere is feurnes. mere j8 also a reading and niin'rinr vm ... Alt Skinner. a fetUM Wd xMmS ft! Off feoja ibe- pXiaVofflcA is boys' social room in which are some juvenile games. There are neat settees and window seats in this room. Jusi beyond, upstairs, is a girls' lounging room, and an office, also a game room for girls. On every side in fact there are rooms affording opportunities for meetings of small groups in social games or converse until it would seem as if practically every w-ant had been provided for all except an opportunity for some light refreshments. But this will probably be remedied so that the members for a merely nominal sum will be able to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich or a glass of milk, a service almost as much needed in the ordinaray town as a gymnasium or a swimming pool. However, just as it stands it is a wonderful institution a place - in which everybody feels "at home." The gymnastic work is as yet the center of attraction, as it well might be, and one of the salutary features of this work ic the corrective treatment which is afforded boys and girls with slight deformities. The gymnasium costumes of the girls are natty, and the way some of thess girls kick and play the new kind of football Miss Ross is teaching them out on the plavground shows that young girls are fully as lithe and active as boys of the same age, and just as enthusiastic over healthy outdoor sports. The Boys' Brigade has already made for itself a reputation in drilling and marching. "Runs" about t$es country with the athletic instructor or1 without are also very popular with the boys. After these runs come the baths and rubdowns ni the glow that comes from such exercise and cleanliness of body. There are some good runners among the boys also and the five lap track is much used. There are good baseball teams and the material for & good football 11 in the association. The athletic end of this civic centre is in full bloom. Now for a glance at the Social Service Home in which Mr Skinner is as deeply concerned as he is in the other work of the association. On the corner of the grounds opposite Everett Hall stands an old double house which has been completely renovated and fitted up with every convenience inside for the new eervice to which it is dedi cated. This Social Service House will In time exert a very healthy influence on pans or ivorwooo that need the kind of attention and instruction the house will afford. that by means of such institutions unforeseen jnuvn oi me rnction ana uneasiness and trouble that exists, in all manu facturing communities especially, will be minimized and in time wholly obliterated. He is no different from other employers of labor on a large scale he has his troubles, but he proposes to do his best to solve them and Incidentally he may be pointing the way for others, ne doesn't regard it as philanthropic work, but just as plain, common sense work and good business as well. A Practical Visionary. If there are sore spots in the community he wants to know the cause of them and apply the remedy if it is in his power. And it is possible that many things will follow in the train he has started in such generous style. Mr Willett is a practical visionary, but cne of the few who has hal the courage to realize his own vision. It is only men who arc at heart broadly humanitarian that have such visioM and the impulse to try to realize them. There are other good men in Norwood; men who have done much for their own employes, but none that havs attempted anything on so big, broad aril democratic a scale for this civic association, like the Boston Public 2-ibrary, is open to all. The results of this work will be carefully noted by philanthropists and sociologists all over the country, for there are elements of originality about it which commend themselves already t a great many students. That Walters Family. Children's Dental , Clinic. Here Is a dental clinic where chil dren and others may have their teeth examined and attended to; and there Is also an eye and ear clinic with fine professional service in both. There are rooms fitted up for an emergency hospital, and the visiting and school nurses have living apartments' in the houses. There is a fine kitchen and a laundry in which it is proposed to give instruction that is probably as much needed as any other one thing among certain classes, who will be indeed fortunate in having such opportunities afforded them. The visiting nurses and the school nurses will easily find the people who will benefit by contact with this Social Service House. The house Is neatly furnished throughout, is well heated and is airy and sunshiny at all times. Beside this house is another in which the caretaker of the property lives. It la a very complete plant from be ginning to end, but it la only the beginning of a chain of such civic centers which Mr Willett proposes to introduce in every townin which he has industrial Interests in the States of Massa- chusetts. New York and New Jersey. These will be begun as workingmen's clubs. . The problem will be first worked out at Norwood In every detail, for Norwood is Mr Willett's home town. nd it has been his ambition for years to begin this work here, and at the same time do somethlntr which would be of permanently lncren. i ains Kalue- fos tiie, town. Ha belie veaj By MAUDE J. PERKINS. fnrHAT Henry Walters and Grace I Brown were in love with each oth-er when they married there could be no sort of doubt. The whole village of Davisburg would have sworn to it. What brought the clouds after a few months? Isn't it odd that lovers have no philosophy about them? They do not look for ary change as time passes. There will be no cross words or falling eff In demonstrations of affection. Behold them! Henry smashes his thumb with the hammer one day, and he goes home thinking what a fool he was -to hit his thumb instead of the nail. He found his wife in bed with a headache. She was vexed about it Why hadn't the ailment come to some one else! Why wasn't Henry home to put a wet cloth on her forehead and utter words of sympathy? 1 - "You are an awfully careless man," she said as he entered the house holding his bruised and bleeding thumb. "If you hadn't got your feet wet or something you wouldn't have a headache," was the reply. These were the first cross words and cKlWrly enough each one was rather glad of it. It was a change from the neysuckle program. Grace told the whole village that Henry boxed her ears. Henry told the whole village that her cooking made him ill, and that her temper had become so Satanic that he was really afraid to sleep in the house. It was more exciting than a dog fight for a time, and there was talk that a boom in real estate would follow. Then the affair began to weary folks, and there was talk that the law ought to be invoked. uch a dog-and-cat couple ought to be mr.de to get a divorce. Such a bickering must lead to murder after awhile. It was Deacon Frazer who suggested a remedy. He was a good man, though th remedy he brought forward was rather heroic for a churchman. An anonymous letter was received by the quarreling couple. It was to the effect that if they did not at once cease thtlr bickering or apply for a divorce, something very unpleasant would happen to them. "You can see what you have done!" said the husband after reading his letter. "And you can see what you have done.'' was retorted. There was less quarreling for a week, and then it broke out again. Then came a second anonymous letter. "The committee of good order will soon wait on you," was the threat. "This is the second and last warning. It will come prepared to deal with your conduct as it deserves!" As a rratter of fact, neither was alarmed. It was a village where law and order reigned. The minister and two or three others might call tln the evening and read husband and wife a lecture on "the sin of quarreling and endeavor to patch up a peace but there would be uothinsf beyond tlia. "And thi-ir talk will do no good it!i me:" said the husband. "Nor with me either, unless you are to be takn to an insane asylum," answered' the wife. An hour after midnight one night nine men wrapped in sheets and having pillow cases drawn over their heads walked abioad in the village streets. The nine paused in front of a cottage. Its inmates were snoring In peace. The nine passed through the sate and drew up in hue before the door. Then one of their number knocked and fell back. After a minute a half-dressed man opened the door to ask: "Who are you and what do you want?" "This is the committee of order. We sent you two warnings and you did not heed them." "What Is it. Henry?" asked the wife, as the was aroused. "They have come for us." "Hen-Henry, I am sorry I have been mean to you," sobbed the wife. "I have been the meanest of the two," was the reply. "I was loving you all the time I w quarreling with you." "Same here." "We will give you one minute more," came the throaty voice from outside. "O. Henry, it will moft kill me to have 'em tar and feather you:'" raoanJ the wife. "And think of their ducking s )''" "My darling"' "My own!" "Time's up! Come to your doom," said the nine ghosts in chorus. Henry seized a hard-wood chair ni smashed it on the uncarpeted floor, and handing one leg of it to his w;fe ! seized another and bovnded out of the door. , Crack! Smash! Crack! The nina ghosts had not anticipated nor rr" . pared themselves for resistance, ar.d the attack came with great suddenness. Tbree or four went down like cowsheds in a cyclone, and the others made their retreat in tremendous haste. None escaped without at least one good whack. The wife used her chair leg with ta vigor the husband did his. "What (to you think," shouted ih Hastings next morning as she burst ia upon her neighbor, Mrs Drew. "Somebody's cow dead?" "No, sir. The Walters , have ma3 up!" "It can't be!" "But they have. I was in thre minutes upo and she was sitting on hi knee, 'and they were so busy call'11 .ach other darling and dear that tb ham for breakfast was all burning and the coffee pot wis boiling over. The statement not only turned out to be true, but it was proven that it the last quarrel to be made up. Ani yet the gossips were not happy. TUey ta id: "Isn't it simply disgraceful the Henry Walters and his wife love other? Really, there oufht to be aemo lining dons abouj it I' ,

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