This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Jewish New Year's greeting. Opening of the school year. Appeal to parents of school children urging them to persuade children to complete their eduction. Appeal to the child to finish his education regardless of what career he chooses. Vocational high schools. Singing of God Bless America by high school students.
Repeal of temporary working papers for 14 year olds. La Guardia is willing to compromise the working age for children who work on farms up state. However, he does not believe children should work in canneries or tanneries.
Interview with a young Marine named Robert Allen Gore, who had lied about his age in order to join the Marines. He is about celebrate his 19th birthday and plans to return to high school then go to college on the GI Bill.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71083
Municipal archives id: LT2554
The original text of the WNYC radio broadcasts are the property of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. This digital edition is made available for research purposes only. The text may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives 31 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1945
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF MAYOR F. H. LA GUARDIA'S SUNDAY BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK FROM HIS OFFICE IN CITY HALL, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1945, BROADCAST OVER WNYC 1.00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
Democracy and education.
JEWISH NEW YEAR GREETINGS
I want to extend to our fellow New Yorkers of the Jewish faith the compliments of the Season and our very, very
best wishes on this 5,706th anniversary.
BACK TO SCHOOL
School opens tomorrow.
(Singing of "School Days" by children from City high schools )
Gee, doesn't that make you feel good. You know, that is one thing that I am going to miss. I will miss being with these kids. The one thing, I believe, that makes this job bearable is the fact that we have such splendid children in our city. They are sincere, they are genuine, they are good. Tomorrow about 850,000 students will enter the doors of our grade and secondary schools, several thousand our colleges, and approximately 250,000 will go to private and parochial schools. That is America, it is our educational system that has made this country what it is, and still our country has so much to do.
I want to talk to the parents this morning for a few moments and then I shall talk to you kids. Yes, I have something to say to you, too. Whatever you do, parents, send that boy or girl back to school. You know, some very bad habits have been formed during the war years. Oh, the excuses we have heard, of manpower shortage, and the opportunity of getting jobs and very good pay for all sorts of jobs, has created the impression that the youngster is ready for his life work, and also that additional education is not necessary. Now parents, do not make that mistake. Even though the youngsters may feel that they know it all, there is so much more yet to learn.
WORKING PAPERS AND EFFECT ON OTHERS
I have some figures here that I believe are rather alarming. For instance, in 1941, 35,462 children obtained their permanent working papers. That is a big figure. However, in 1945, with the month of August estimated, 72,000 have already taken their permanent working papers. I am going to appeal to the parents of these children and to the children themselves, hand those working papers back. Go back to school. You will thank me for it someday. You will thank your parents for it. So you have a good job now. So you are a big shot in the neighborhood.
Sure, you are getting good pay. But, what is going to happen. I will tell you what is going to happen. A great many employers took advantage of the war situation to employ children. Yes, we say children, and I mean just that. They get more work out of them; they get longer hours out of them although not permitted by law, and although the wage is big to the child, it is below what they would pay an adult. Don't you see why so many were anxious to employ children. But what is going to happen? This is what is going to happen and I want you to think about it. Every child that is employed, takes the place of an adult, the head of a family. Now, father has a job, the youngster has a job. Boys are coming home and are being demobilized. War workers are being discharged from the factories. Did it ever occur to you that the job your child is holding is displacing the head of another family who may get your job. Then you will be out of a job. That will not help, will it? And if this other head of a family is out of work, that will not help either. So think that over, won't you?
NEED FOR EDUCATION
Now something else is going to happen. You children will grow up in one or two years from now; and you will understand conditions better and you will want grown up wages. Do you know what they are going to tell you then? They will say, "Very sorry, son, we have a place open but we are going to give that to a high school graduate. We are going to give that to a college student." You say, "Oh, all right, I will go out and get another job." Then, they will say, "Oh, we don't take anyone but high school graduates now you know; we don't take anyone but trained people now." What are you going to do? Think that over, too. You may be splurging now with plenty of pocket money. Of course, someone will say, "Well, the economic conditions of the family require us to send our girl or boy to work." Does it? If it does, there is some justification for it. If his mother has lost her husband and it is necessary to send the child to work under 18, don't do it. The city will supplement your earnings. The City will provide for that child in your care. If the head of the family is unable to work, do not send those children under 18 to work. We will look after your family. Don't you see, there is really no excuse to do it. That is why I make this appeal. You know, depriving a child of his education in his early years, in his teen age, is something that can never be given back to that child. That is why I make this appeal. Now, again, many children have been engaged in work which they should not do at all and you have heard me talk about that day after day and year after year, and I suppose you are tired of hearing it.
NEED FOR RAISING AGE REQUIREMENT FOR WORKING PAPERS
A great deal is being said about care in issuing working papers, about supervision. I do not care what anybody says, there just isn't sufficient supervision. There is only one way to do that and that is to increase the age for working papers. At present a child of 14 years of age can get vacation or temporary working papers. I believe that is too young. A child 14 years of age should play. Yes, let them play in the streets; let them get rough. Watch and see them get rough among themselves and play. That is so much better than carrying boxes and loading trucks and doing all sorts of work. I heard a social worker say, "All he does is errand work for a grocer, its good for him." Have you ever seen a little kid go out of a grocery store with a great loaded basket on his shoulder, get tired and put it on the other shoulder? Shame on such an employer. Yes, I strongly recommend that no child under 16 should obtain temporary vacation papers and no child should obtain permanent working papers if he has not completed his 17th or 17 1/2 year.
Let us translate all of the good things we say, all of our expressions of interest in the children into protective legislation. The great State of New York does not want to have its children exploited. I am willing to make a little bit of a compromise. Opposition generally comes from upstate. I am quite willing to compromise with a differential for children who go to farms under proper supervision, with proper living conditions and proper food, for the harvest or picking of fruit, but I am not willing to compromise on children employed in canneries. I cannot make that too strong. I am just sick and tired of hearing these sanctimonious people upstate saying this hard work in canneries is good for the child. I am against it and I will continue to oppose it.
Another thing, kids, listen to me. You cannot fool life any longer. We are going into a scientific age and one just must know how. I do not care what you take up. You need an education. "Oh", you say, "I am going to take up a trade." Fine. "I don't have to go to high school." Don't kid yourself. In the first place, the State of New York says that you must, so you had better go and like it. And then, suppose you become a skilled craftsman, a highly””skilled mechanic. You will get good pay, you are going to get short hours and you will have a short week. Did you ever think of what you are going to do with your leisure time? Don't you see, education is necessary to get the full enjoyment of the leisure time that we will have in this new economic era. The uneducated man does not know what to do with leisure time. There is a difference between idle time and leisure time. Idle time for one at work is depressing, long, hard, tedious, but leisure time when one is employed can be made enjoyable, enjoying the finer, the good things of life. There are so many good people you can get acquainted with. It takes education to enjoy a good book. An uneducated man cannot since he has not acquired the facility of sustained reading, while an educated person can spend an enjoyable evening at home with a great man reading his books. Think of that. And then again when a person who knows history of literature travels, other places mean something to him, whereas the uneducated man may travel all over the world and not notice any difference.
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
The thing I want to tell parents, and particularly the parents of first generation Americans, is this, if your child happens to attend a junior high school and then graduates remember this is only the first year of high school and there are three more years after that. So when your child comes home and says that he has finished high school, remember that he has three more years to go in order to complete high school.
Now I want to talk, if I may, to the Department of Education, and you know that only a few people can talk to the Department of Education. As just a humble citizen of New York I would like to say that Vocational High Schools today are quite different than they were fifteen or twenty years ago. Great care must be taken that a student in vocational high school does not lose any precious time if, after the first year, he should decide to go to an academic high school. Sufficient preparation for such a change should be made, particularly in the first and second year when he is just feeling his way. If the selection was right and he completes his vocational high school, he should come out with sufficient cultural background to enjoy life or to pursue his studies further. As I stated before boys may want more training in mechanical trades and therefore go to Cooper Union. So see that that boy has sufficient educational background to pick up work where he left off. That is very important.
A SCIENTIFIC WORLD
We are going into a scientific age. There is a reason for everything that we do now and we find that there is so much in the world that we do not understand yet. God gave this world everything that all of the people in the world need. We have not distributed it right. The greed and selfishness of man have in some instance garnered all of God's gifts and kept them for one people and kept them away from other people, butin His wisdom He put in this world enough for everybody. In addition to that He has put into the world so much of the natural wealth that we are just discovering.
So, boys and girls, do not forget, if you can make it, take a scientific course and mathematics. Do not forget mathematics. I guess I am old fashioned and you get to be old fashioned when you reach my age. I believe that there is too much choosing of subjects in high school. I am going to tell you something you are not going to like to hear. I would make every high school student study mathematics all four years and at least one language. Now listen kids, and I am talking to my own at home too, mathematics is just the foundation. If a boy takes up athletics, suppose it is boxing, he does a lot of road work, doesn't he? Why? To strengthen the muscles and it is a constant exercise. Well, it is the same with the brain, and mathematics is about the best brain calisthenics that you can get in school. Also take chemistry, engineering, and any of the pure science if you can, but do not lose the opportunity now.
THE ATOMIC BOMB
We are now going into a scientific age. In fact we are. What was the most startling advance of the World War. The atomic bomb, wasn't it? The brains of the world were marshalled for that. I said sometime ago that I do not believe that there are 1,500 people out of the 139,000,000 people in our country that understand the physics or chemistry of the atom. I think that that number is rather large. I think it is much less than that. But it is there and it was the scientists that ended the war. History will record that.
WILLIAM LAURENCE ATOMIC BOMB ARTICLE
Talking about the atomic bomb, have you read the article by William L. Laurence in today's Times. It is on page 1. I recommend that to every current events class in the high schools and colleges. That article can be read and reread and when it becomes stale as a subject for current events, passed on to the Department of Literature. It is a classic in the English language and will remain among the English classics.
EDUCATION AN AID TO GOOD BEHAVIOR
Now, children, here is something I know you do not like to hear. You know, an educated person is always a well-behaved person. He has poise, good manners and speaks his language correctly. Sometimes I am rather embarrassed when I see some of our teen-age children in the streets or in the parks. Oh, yes, when they come to City Hall they always have good manners. But on the whole manners are so important. However, we need cooperation between the home and the schools. I wish that the schools would make a regular course in ladylike and gentlemanly behaviour a "must." Don't be ashamed of it - to be courteous, to be kind, to be polite is the making of a real American.
And talking about a real American, did you read about Louis Zamperini, the boy who won the one mile race in the 1936 Olympics. What that boy went through. There is a typical American. We talk so much about races, and prejudice and discrimination these days. Here is a boy who is the son of immigrants. If he had been born in Italy the very same day that he had the good fortune to have been born in the United States, he would have been taken by the Fascists, trained, being athletic, and would have developed into a narrow-minded pro-Fascist. Chance gave him the opportunity to be born in the United States and he is typical of America - his talk, attitude, and his philosophy of life. Don't you see what we are doing in this country. Lou Zamperini typifies all that is fine and clean in American boyhood, all that is courageous, determined, in American manhood.
AGRICULTURAL SCHOLARSHIP INTERVIEWS
The day before yesterday I had the pleasure of talking to several high school graduates in connection with scholarships to the School of Agriculture at Cornell. There was a boy from Brooklyn Technical High School, one from Abraham Lincoln High School, one from Newtown High School, two from the High School of Music and Art and one from the Immaculata High School on East 33rd Street. I am going to interview several more.
You know, I went home very happy that evening. I had a tough day that morning and early afternoon. But here were these children from six different high schools applying for these scholarships. They knew what they wanted. They knew all about the course. They were determined to get a higher education. They were well-mannered. They had poise. That makes one feel good, and I thought as I was driving home that the whole $186,000,000 that we are spending for education is not wasted. You know, the boy and girl of America has reached new heights and so much depends upon them. I am sure they do not realize their responsibility.
ROBERT GORE INTERVIEW
Mayor: I saw a Marine here. Miss Weil, where is that young man? Bob, come over here. Here is a typical Marine. Take it easy. Don't let the microphone scare you. It does not scare me. It does scare politicians once in a while because they do not know what they are talking about. You do. Look, Bob, tell us your name.
Mr. Gore: Robert Alfred Gore.
Mayor: Where are you from?
Mr. Gore: Louisville, Kentucky.
Mayor: If you don't mind, how old are you?
Mr. Gore: I will be 19 on the 28th of this month.
Mayor: How long have you been in the Marines?
Mr. Gore: Over two years.
Mayor: What did you tell them when you went in?
Mr. Gore: I told them that I was 17 but I was only 16.
Mayor: Is that all fixed up now?
Mr. Gore: Yes, sir.
Mayor: Well, Bob, what service did you see?
Mr. Gore: I was at Guadalcanal, the Fijis, the New Hebrides, the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Pearl Harbor - all over the Pacific.
Mayor: Why did you come back to New York instead of going to Kentucky.
Mr. Gore: I married a New York girl.
Mayor: That is rather good judgment. Where did you meet her?
Mr. Gore: I met her in California. I was in a Naval Hospital and she was working for the telephone company.
Mayor: You must have had a lot of messages. Were you married in California?
Mr. Gore: No. we were married here in New York.
Mayor: Bob, what are you going to do now.
Mr. Gore: I want to go back to high school.
Mayor: Are you going to use the benefits of the GI Bill of Rights?
Mr. Gore: Not in high school, but for the four years in college. They are going to put me through a special course at Brooklyn Technical.
Mayor: Will you be able to swing it in high school?
Mr. Gore: I will have disability pension.
Mayor: That means that you were wounded in action.
Mr. Gore: Yes, sir, twice. I have 70% disability.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is America. Here is a mereboy who has gone through the hell of combat, was twice wounded, and received a 70% disability. He knows what he wants. He is going to prepare for college. His grateful government will take care of his college course, while the blood that he shed fighting for his country will provide the opportunity to complete his high school. A country that produces such boys just cannot go wrong. Don't you realize, children, what there is ahead? Don't you see Bob Gore and all of these boys coming home? They have finished their job; they have destroyed brute force in the world; They have so crushed Nazism and Fascism that they will never rise again, for centuries and centuries. Bob and his comrades pushed the Japs off the islands to the very point of complete and unconditional surrender. We cannot stop there. We just cannot stop there. We relaxed for a few minutes to rejoice in the peace but we have to pick up again. There is so much to do. We cannot be happy if other countries are unhappy. We have to spread our happiness, we have to share this happiness. We have to lend lease our opportunities so that other children of other countries of the world will have the opportunity of an education, the same as your country is giving you, so that you may assume these responsibilities. The world is grateful to the United States today for having saved civilization, for having preserved freedom and human liberty. We now have a job to help bring economic security to all of the people of the world so that in years to come, they will be singing then as they sing today, "God Bless America" (School chorus sings G.B.A .) Thank you, Maestro Wilhousky, and thank you young ladies and gentlemen of our schools.
Democracy and Education.
The following words were sung to the tune of "Halls of Montezuma" by the school chorus.
"From our men now serving 'round the earth
Comes the plea, "GO BACK TO SCHOOL!"
If you'd help us build a brave new world
Education's your best tool.
Love and service to our nation
Calls for youth trained to be free
And the classroom is the place to learn
To preserve Democracy!"