“Parks and Playgrounds” by Mrs. Roscoe Phiffer, from the June 16, 1916 issue of The Monroe Journal.
Mr. John Nolen, an eminent landscape architect of Cambridge, Mass., says, “Every city worthy of the name has public parks of some sort, and they are now recognized as a necessity of city life, just as streets and water and schools are a necessity. In nothing is a school so permanently benefitted as in the relation of sites and the construction of an adequate system of playgrounds and pleasure parks. The creation of a satisfactory park system is one of the most difficult and responsible duties that ever comes to a town or city government. No one nowadays doubts the necessity of city parks and playgrounds, and recent investigations give final and convincing evidence that parks pay as a municipal investment, pay directly in dollars and cents.”
One of our most public-spirited citizens has tried for years to induce the city government to buy a certain tract of land, lying close in, to be used as a public park. The people generally realize that a bad situation will confront us one of these days, when we will become a closely built community, without breathing space for the public. No bits of the natural world, no little piece of “country” left. It seems almost a necessity that the municipality acquire land for this purpose before the price becomes prohibitive. This has been diligently preached by men and women of vision, who hope that it is not already too late. Providing park space is perhaps as necessary as some other things only we got started doing other things with the money. Space for outdoor recreation is badly needed, a place for the necessary habit of human assembling in crowds; place for the children to play, following the imperative law of their nature, place for the absolutely necessary business of courtship, a place for old age to sit apart in peace and undisturbed contemplation.
“The boy without a playground is father of the man without a job.” A boy must have something to do. If he cannot get a job during vacation, the playground helps to solve his problem. There is nothing better for a child in any way than to be taught good wholesome, constructive play.
“What! Teach children how to play?” This skeptical exclamation greets one who tries to present this new idea, and it is hard to convince some that what was good enough for our fathers is not good enough for us. The child is entitled to all the advantages that have been worked out for his benefit, just as well as we are to our modern conveniences in our homes, our offices and business houses.
The playground is a positive factor in lessening juvenile delinquency. While a child is on the playground he is not breaking windows, obstructing street traffic with his games, his use of language is much more restrained and he cannot smoke cigarettes. If this restraining influence is only exercised for an hour a day on several hundred boys, whose environment is bad, it is worth while. Those who have followed the subject closely unite in speaking a good word for the restraining influence of the playground upon the children who attend them.
The law of the directed playground is that every child must play and play fair. The child is by nature a social being and he would rather take part and “play fair” than be isolated. The usual story of the playground is that it is started by the philanthropic workers, then turned over to the city.
Our city is growing and we should look well to the public amusements of our people and provide them that wholesome, healthful recreation which is necessary in every community.
Raeford, N.C., has been presented with a magnificent gift, a tract of several acres of long leaf forest,near the center of the town, which will be used for a park and bear the name of the donor, Maj. J.W. McLaughlin.
Dr. Woods Hutchinson says: “Never till we are ready to graduate from the university of life, which ought not to be before 65 or 70, should we cease to regard play as one of our major electives. Play makes the child into a man, and keeps the man into a child, growing and improving all his life long.”
--Mrs. Roscoe Phiffer