Church in the Windshield
October 24, 2019
We have always been intrigued and fascinated with Boy’s Town and the kind of work that was being done. None the less, neither of us had ever been to Boys Town so when we were invited to see Boys Town and experience its history, we jumped at the chance. When we entered the Hall of History, we were amazed at the things we saw. We realized that Boys Town was far greater than expected and that we needed to write a blog about it. I asked the lady at the desk if we could take some pictures and she said, “Yes, but no flashes please.” We honored that request and took lots of pictures. Some of the pictures I will use in this blog. A couple of days ago, I received from Boys Town the written permission I needed to write the blog. Indeed, I was happy about that; reviewed the pictures that I had taken and once again reviewed the historical material that I found in their Boys Town a Century publication. Consequently, the historical information that we will be using came from that publication.
As I began to tour around the museum, which was very well done, I might add. I began to notice that Boys’ town was so much more than an orphanage. It was the life blood of developing young men. It was a trade school that offered training for boys to learn how to support themselves in life. One of the first scenes that I witnessed was that of a boy with tattered clothes and worn
A dental chair and ex-ray machine came into view and I remember sitting in a dentist chair very similar to the one in the picture. For a time my mind placed me in the dental chair. I imagined seeing the two meters, one that told the strength of the x-ray and the other one . . . who knows? The machine would whir and then click, “All done now,” the dentist would say. Perhaps you can remember the dentist drill that had pulleys, belts and joints that would allow it to move in any
direction. Some of the boys may have become dentists. A telephone switchboard reminded me of times long ago when an operator would plug lines so that people could communicate. Each switchboard had a limited number of phone lines but there was always a line or two that could connect to other towns. Those towns in turn could connect to other towns, so to place a long distance call, one operator would connect to another . . . and another until the distant town would be connected. Some of the boys may haveturned out to be telephone operators. This certainly, was an opportunity for someone to learn the skills of a telephone operator. Another form of communication was the printed word.
Boys Town had a printing press and the boys learned how to set it up and print publications. This was an excellent opportunity for them to learn a new life skill and prepare themselves for the future. I gazed at the old printing press for a while and wondered how it worked?
A “cut away” of a John Deere tractor gave evidence of mechanical training. The boys could experience first-hand how the tractor worked. They learned how to repair and assemble the engine, transmission, differential and brakes. There is no doubt in my mind that some of the boys became well respected mechanics. Fr. Flanagan had such keen insight on teaching the boys’ life sustaining trade skills.I saw the Boys Town Flxible bus sitting across the room in all of its glory. The headlights were on
and the door was open. Flxible was made in America and was a very popular bus in its day. As I admired the bus, I couldn’t help but remember my early bus driving days. Although I never drove a Flxible, I did drive a refurbished Silver Eagle and a refurbished Scenic Cruiser (GMC double decker). But I digress to memories of years gone by. I must look inside. The inside was just as magnificent as the outside.
A huge steering wheel adorned with a chrome horn ring and red center caught my eye. The gear shift was still in place and I couldn’t resist shifting it though there was no transmission. Some may have become drivers.
A band wagon called “Father Flanagan’s Boys Shows,” was used to advertise Boys Town in the beginning years. Musical instruments inside the band wagon gave witness that some of them learned to play . . . to entertain . . . and to assist in raising money to support Boys Town. Perhaps some of the boys explored music careers. I have to admire Fr. Flanagan for following the Spirit of God . . . for his creative insight . . . and his compassion for homeless boys. He taught them skills and gave them a new lease on life.
I have a deep respect and great appreciation for Boys Town. I see and hear in my mind, all the billboard signs and the advertising that we heard over the years.
“HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER”
Until next time, Let us remember Boy’s Town and give God thanks.
Ron & Sheron, drivers behind the windshield