This section is from the book "Feeling Better? Amusements and Occupations for Convalescents", by Cornelia R. Trowbridge. Also available from Amazon: Feeling Better.
THE verb to contact, labeled in the dictionaries Rare, has become in this age of scientific salesmanship and publicity a common one. And the idea behind it is characteristic of the age. With the newspaper, the telephone and the radio we "contact" with all the human race without stirring from our own firesides, and accept it all as a matter of course. Then illness seems suddenly to cut us off from the world and shut us in upon ourselves. But there are special contacts which can be established for your particular benefit while, as the little girl said, you are feeling "better but not all better."
The Red Cross covers the whole country and does not limit its services to dealing with great public emergencies. To its bureaus you can turn for much information that may be useful if you are ill in your own home and unable to draw upon the resources of a great city. You can write to the nearest Branch Office to learn where you can get equipment for use in illness, such as hospital beds, crutches and wheel chairs, which can often be rented. Some chapters have what is called a Loan Closet, from which they may be able to supply your needs directly. The Home Hygiene Service is the special department of the Red Cross which gives instruction in the care of the sick through schools, Scout Troops, summer camps, women's clubs and organizations for social work. Its course is planned to meet home conditions and use the resources of the ordinary household. It takes up among many other things such matters as how to change bed linen with the patient in bed, how to give a bed-bath, how to apply bandages. Does this Service suggest help for your household in dealing with any of the problems which illness brings? The National Headquarters of the Red Cross are in Washington, D. C. From them you can learn to what branch office you could apply for information or help.
The Shut-In Society, with its headquarters at 129 East 34th Street, New York, is an organization over fifty years old, with branches in many states. Its members are men, women and children "shut in from the outside world by chronic physical disability." Its dues are nominal. It publishes a magazine, "The Open Window," by which its members are kept in touch with one another. Committees of the society lend members wheel chairs, books, air cushions and other comforts.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are always looking for their Good Turn a Day to do. If you can get in touch with a scout master of a local troop, you can ask for a volunteer to help you in mastering the various handicrafts possible for you in which Scouts are trained- knot tying, whittling, leatherwork, belt weaving. A little personal instruction may be far more valuable than any written directions. Through the Scout Trading Posts you can order materials and equipment for crafts at moderate prices. The catalogue of articles for unrestricted sale can be secured from the Equipment Headquarters of both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts in New York, if you cannot borrow it from a Scout.
In Boston the Fellowcrafters Guild has recently been organized in affiliation with Boston University. It offers advice and help freely to anyone interested in craftwork and is getting out a series of small books, the Beacon Handicraft Series, mentioned on page 192.
There is a very efficient organization called the Industrial Arts Cooperative Service which is worth knowing about. It is primarily intended to supply ideas and materials for educational projects in progressive schools. It will, however, furnish to anyone materials of good quality for many home crafts. Its illustrated catalogue, price ten cents, is full of suggestions useful to anyone interested in simple occupations for the hands. The address is 519 West 121st Street, New York City.
Training in skill of hand is so large a part of modern education that most progressive teachers of young children are full of ideas for simple handicrafts which an invalid could take up. Through some school cannot you establish contact with a teacher who could give you ideas, if not detailed instruction in carrying them out, and could tell you where to get equipment and materials most easily?
With the chapters on handicrafts in this book are given the addresses of firms supplying craft equipment and materials of good quality. Almost all such dealers can furnish handbooks on crafts with designs and careful specifications of the materials needed. Their catalogues are sent on application.
The Shuttlecraft Guild, organized by Mrs. Mary Meigs Atwater and directed by her from Basin, Montana, supplies looms and materials at the lowest possible cost, furnishes weaving designs of real beauty, organizes traveling exhibits and publishes a bulletin. You will want to join it when you find what a delightful occupation weaving offers, not only for days in bed but also for all leisure hours. The Guild will give advice as to patterns and materials and keep you in touch with what men and women from Maine to California are doing with this ancient and beautiful craft.
Lester Griswold at Colorado Springs, Colorado, has a training center for a number of crafts, publishes a handbook of instruction, and supplies dependable materials.
If you are so fortunate as to have a hobby, perhaps this is the time to get into communication with others who share your interests. The Craft Students League, which is doing interesting work in connection with the Young Women's Christian Association, the societies of stamp collectors and of enthusiasts over tropical fish, the Garden Club of America, all have headquarters in New York City and all welcome new members. There is an annual exhibition of Arts and Crafts at the Art Institute in Chicago. The lovers of puzzles have a National Puzzlers' League and publish a monthly magazine "The Enigma," at Scranton, Pennsylvania.
If you want to use the leisure of convalescence for study, courses on every conceivable subject are offered by such correspondence schools as those of Columbia University, in New York City, and the University of Chicago.
It is worth while to make an effort, when we are ill, to keep in touch with the outside world. President Masaryk says, "The world ends at your horizon. It is your task by every means to widen it."