"I am quitesure that I would not have gone on to win the Olympic Championship in 1952 norwould I be the World's Heavyweight Champion today, if I had not been given mychance at Wiltwyck."
Floyd Patterson'salma mater, the Wiltwyck School for Boys, represents an effort to save childrenfrom the scarring of intolerable circumstances of their lives. Supported by thecity 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 and12. Here their young lives are rounded out with love and attention and thetherapeutic play and interplay of sport. Wiltwyck does not pretend to solve allproblems, but it is a long step upward from the penny-ante card games, thesneaked cigarettes, the petty thefts and the gang rumbles of the boys confinedto city streets. As one of the alumni said, "I haven't done as well asFloyd Patterson, but I'm doing all right." For these boys, and forWiltwyck, "all right" is a noteworthy achievement.
SMALL BOYS FROM THE CITY FIND TROUT AND SUNKEN LOGS AND WONDERMENT IN BLACKCREEK AS IT TUMBLES THROUGH THE WILTWYCK SCHOOL GROUNDS
On their firstwalks through the woods, city boys come upon one perplexity after another.Their view of life encompasses the actions and reactions of human beings, notof nature. When a great dead branch crashed from 35 feet to the ground, theboys jumped, looked wide-eyed and asked their counselor anxiously, "Who didthat?"
Violence andcomfort form a pattern that recurs a dozen times every day. Counselors knowthis blind dash; whatever they are doing, they will catch it out of the cornerof an eye and go off in hot pursuit. First comes the gentle tackle, and thenthe patient probing for the reason.—"He hit me," or "He took mymarbles." The counselor can deal with a hurt child's outbursts, but it isto Wiltwyck's doctors and therapists, and the caseworkers in the city workingwith the family, that one must look for a healing deep enough to make outburstsless frequent.
A boy and naturemeet timidly as this Wiltwyck camper, his baseball cap askew and his raincoatat the ready, goes on an exploring trip through the patterned shadows of thewoods. When his curiosity is sated, he will return to the other activities ofthe day: swimming, baseball, volleyball, badminton, marbles and ticktacktoe.When a boy leaves Wiltwyck he usually must return to the pressures of the citystreets, but in New York the Floyd Patterson House will soon be finished, andready to carry on the school's work there.
His own personalhat, put on frontward, makes a Wiltwyck boy a trout fisherman. When it's turnedaround, he's a catcher. The importance of an "own personal" possessionis 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.