"I am quite
sure that I would not have gone on to win the Olympic Championship in 1952 nor
would I be the World's Heavyweight Champion today, if I had not been given my
chance at Wiltwyck."
alma mater, the Wiltwyck School for Boys, represents an effort to save children
from the scarring of intolerable circumstances of their lives. Supported by the
city and state, by foundations and by private gifts, the institution in Esopus,
N.Y. cares year round for 100 deeply troubled boys between the ages of 8 and
12. Here their young lives are rounded out with love and attention and the
therapeutic play and interplay of sport. Wiltwyck does not pretend to solve all
problems, but it is a long step upward from the penny-ante card games, the
sneaked cigarettes, the petty thefts and the gang rumbles of the boys confined
to city streets. As one of the alumni said, "I haven't done as well as
Floyd Patterson, but I'm doing all right." For these boys, and for
Wiltwyck, "all right" is a noteworthy achievement.
SMALL BOYS FROM THE CITY FIND TROUT AND SUNKEN LOGS AND WONDERMENT IN BLACK
CREEK AS IT TUMBLES THROUGH THE WILTWYCK SCHOOL GROUNDS
On their first
walks through the woods, city boys come upon one perplexity after another.
Their view of life encompasses the actions and reactions of human beings, not
of nature. When a great dead branch crashed from 35 feet to the ground, the
boys jumped, looked wide-eyed and asked their counselor anxiously, "Who did
comfort form a pattern that recurs a dozen times every day. Counselors know
this blind dash; whatever they are doing, they will catch it out of the corner
of an eye and go off in hot pursuit. First comes the gentle tackle, and then
the patient probing for the reason.—"He hit me," or "He took my
marbles." The counselor can deal with a hurt child's outbursts, but it is
to Wiltwyck's doctors and therapists, and the caseworkers in the city working
with the family, that one must look for a healing deep enough to make outbursts
A boy and nature
meet timidly as this Wiltwyck camper, his baseball cap askew and his raincoat
at the ready, goes on an exploring trip through the patterned shadows of the
woods. When his curiosity is sated, he will return to the other activities of
the day: swimming, baseball, volleyball, badminton, marbles and ticktacktoe.
When a boy leaves Wiltwyck he usually must return to the pressures of the city
streets, but in New York the Floyd Patterson House will soon be finished, and
ready to carry on the school's work there.
His own personal
hat, put on frontward, makes a Wiltwyck boy a trout fisherman. When it's turned
around, he's a catcher. The importance of an "own personal" possession
is enormous to boys who arrive with nothing but the clothes they stand up in.
Wiltwyck toys, sports equipment and some clothes are held in common, so that an
"own personal" thing is to be treasured.