The Good Old Days?
- (The Daily Journal and Gazette, Mattoon, Illinois, March 22, 1948)
Is America caught in a wave of destruction of public property? National, state and local officials seem to think so. There are reports that vandals are ruining public parks. In many cities, officials complain of damage to recreation areas and school executives are worried over increased defacement of school grounds and buildings. The ravagers seem to follow a common pattern, though they operate in wide-spread geographic sections. The most common form is name-writing, with real address, written on walls of washrooms or cut into scenic features such as tree trunks or historic markers. Next in popularity is scattering trash and emptying refuse containers. Sometimes trailsides are broken into, the contents thrown about wantonly. Shrubs are uprooted, benches broken. In general the aim seems undirected. Mere disorder is the motive the fun of breaking and scattering.
Recently four little Crosley autos were taken from a Springfield filling station storage room. They were damaged an estimated $400 each. Two of them had been driven headon minus drivers, just for the h-- of it, while one of them was run over an embankment north of the city.
Has the war infected human beings with a desire for destruction? Has some code of discipline broken down? Whatever the cause, the result shows courageous thinking needs be applied to the problems. Once there was a school principal who used to assemble new students at the beginning of the school term and give them o talk about the ideals and purposes of the school. Among other things, he spoke of desks, buildings and grounds. "These desks are yours. Your parents bought them with hard-earned taxes. Defacing them is like spoiling something
in your home. We all take pride in everything belonging to the school, and try to leave it better than we found it." Vandalism in that school was always less than where principals did not take pains to explain and to inspire care of public property. There may be a hint thereof maintaining positive pride instead of applying negative punishment too late.