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Articles & Local History > 1938 - INTERESTING LETTER FROM A. J. WIRTH

Former Tampico Boy Tells of Life at Home for Boys

Tampico Tornado

Thursday, July 21, 1938

This office is in receipt of an especially interesting letter from Adam J. Wirth, a former Tampico boy, who is at present employed at Father Flanagan's Boys' Home at Boys Town, Nebr. This is a home for homeless and abandoned boys regardless of race, color or creed and has received a great deal of publicity lately owing to the moving picture which has been made there recently. The letter follows:

Boys Town Nebr.

July 15, 1938

Dear Mr. Kolb:

Greetings to you and all my friends in Tampico from me, a resident of Boys Town.

I have been here for six months and these months have been filled with happy and interesting experiences. I am learning something every week and there is plenty to learn about this Boys' Home. Just to know the beloved founder, Father Flanagan, and work with him and his staff of able assistants is a pleasure. And, needless to say, contact with many of the 200 boys here is also very interesting.

My work is on the farm but I have a wide variety of jobs included, help sometimes in the gardens, have helped prepare new lawns and flower beds, cleaning up and removing some of the old frame buildings and general repair work around barns and fences all comes in my line of work.

I was assigned to the dairy barn and help with the milking, feeding of cattle and cleaning of the barns and supervise the boys who work in the barns and dairy room. At present there are eight boys in this crew and all good workers and a nice group to be with. For quite a while we were up at 4:00 a.m. to start our work in the dairy barn but lately with more help and less chores, we begin our day at 5:00 a.m. and complete our chores before breakfast which is at 6:30. We do all our afternoon chores before supper which is at 5:50 p.m. We have dinner at 11:30 and have to arrange all our work to fit into these hours as the kitchen crew won't wait with meals.

Every department has its routine and runs on schedule for work hours, and all departments cooperate with each other to make a smooth running and very efficient institution. We have a complete office force to handle all business; a splendidly equipped printing plant with two  full time printers who instruct boys learning that trade; a carpenter shop with many machines for wood working use and instruction; a tailor shop and cleaning plant; a modern heating system, using oil burning furnaces, to supply steam heat and hot water for all buildings and furnish water for the whole place. A large laundry department to keep the clothes and bedding clean; pressing and repairing is also taken care of by this department. Electric current is furnished by the Nebraska Power Co., which supplies electricity for all this part of the state. It is really a small city in itself and we have all the city conveniences we need, except no stores. We have a modern gymnasium and have picture shows every Sunday evening and holidays. During the summer months we have movies on Wednesday evenings. The boys have many athletic teams for basketball, football and baseball, also tennis and horseshoe courts.

The farm consists of 360 acres and we raise all kinds of field crops and much garden produce. At present we are threshing, started July 13th. Rye and wheat are not very good but barley and oats are very good. Corn is growing fine and the alfalfa is ready for second cutting. Some of the machinery used around here is somewhat different than what I was used to so had to learn how to use some new machines.

This might be called a "one-horse farm" as we have only one horse. Eight mules do most of the work and we use two tractors for heavy field and belt work.

A new group of farm buildings is under construction. The new dairy barn is 166 feet long by 34 feet wide and will be completely modern, even to air conditioning. New combined double crib with overhead grain bins is already in use.  A large machine shed, hog barn, separate bull barn, a large modern dairy house and a slaughter House are being erected, but it will be several months before they are  all complete and ready for use. Most of these buildings are necessary to replace those destroyed by fire last fall, only the present dairy barn and hog barn  and a few old sheds were left after that fire. The new group is farther away from the other buildings and will be much more convenient to work in.

For the past three weeks a large number of people have been here from the M. G. M. studios making part of the scenes to be used in the movie production, "Boys Town." Almost fifty people were here, actors, directors, camera crews, stage carpenters and electricians. Even a doctor and nurse were on duty every day. We had chances to watch parts of the actual production and indeed it is very interesting. Spencer Tracy plays the part of Father Flanagan, and Mickey Rooney has one of the leading boy's parts. several other boys came with the group but most of the Home boys were used in some parts. One camera crew has been working on a silent picture to be known as "The city of Little Men," which will be produced on the same order as a news reel and used to advertise the main production and run several weeks ahead in all theatres showing "Boys Town."

I wish all my friends could visit Boys Town and see the results of the splendid work being done here in training these boys to be honest and honorable citizens. It is truly a worthwhile work and most of the boys who have been residents here are a credit to Father Flanagan and his Home.

I feel happy in being one of his helpers in this task, even though I do not have a very great part and have little dealings with the boys. If any of the Tampico folks get out this way I certainly would be pleased to have them call and visit the Home as its an interesting place. We are only 10 miles west of Omaha on 17, S. Highway 30 S.

The Tornado reaches me every week and keeps me informed on all the news from "my old home town."

Greetings and best wishes to all.


Adam J. Wirth

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