The very practical value of manual training work planned from the recreative and esthetic standpoint may be illustrated by the work of the boys of the Springfield, Ohio, Boys' Department in putting to practical advantage the few months of training they had previously received, by working out and erecting the interior finish in their club rooms. The story of this experience briefly is as follows:
In the late fall of 1902 a workshop for carpentry was fitted up in the attic of the Association building, which could only be reached by climbing four long flights of stairs and up which all materials had to be carried. Here work-benches and tool-cases accommodating classes of twelve were installed and soon the two classes started were full to the capacity. These lads were instructed in elementary joinery and permitted to make what they most desired and for which they would furnish material.
Sleds, pressboards, magazine racks, tables, stands and bootjacks resulted. Less than three months passed before the building was partly destroyed by fire and work in the shop suspended. Fortunately, that part in which the shop was situated was saved. Hardly had the insurance been adjusted before the boys were in the shop busily engaged with emery and sand paper cleaning away the stains of smoke and rust. While they worked they planned and discussed how they could help repair their loss. As a result of this planning, when the specifications for the new structure were finally approved, four spacious rooms on the main floor were to be left unfinished. The woodwork was to be supplied by the boys.
Rough oak was at once secured and dressed and ripped into the required stock at the mill. A workshop adjoining the building site was provided and the boys set to work cutting and smoothing the panels and casings and seats and beams for their new home.
From some old pulleys and shafting saved from the ruins of the building a sanding machine was improvised which did good work and which is now installed in the workshop in the basement of the new building.
By the time the contractor was done and gone this material was ready for erection. How those boys did work! The end was in sight and they were anxious for the goal. In due time everything was done and the rooms were resplendent in their cosy high wainscot, massive ceiling beams, and inviting seats built in all the possible corners, all stained and polished by the enthusiastic youths. But best of all was the great fireplace and chimney, the stone for which the boys had selected and carted from among the moss-grown and weather-stained refuse cap rock in a quarry near the city and which they transformed into a thing of. beauty and good cheer.
Here a great gas log fire flickers invitingly on many a winter evening or chilly afternoon, and the boys gathered around recall the experiences of the summer's camp or rehearse the baseball and football games of the last season.
When finally they were eady for the opening, after the rooms had been furnished by the same mothers who a year and a half before had equipped the workshop, the proudest boys in all that line who stood ready to receive and entertain those mothers and their associates were the lads who had worked the hardest and longest to make that event possible. When with pardonable pride they heard the words of praise and commendation and exclamations of admiration from their parents and friends, they felt repaid for the aching muscles and perspiration of those weary summer days' labor.