On Its 85th Anniversary, Local Big Brothers Big Sisters Reunited With a Historic Piece of Paper
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In 1926, Ms. Jessie A. White, a young probation officer of the Dallas Juvenile Court, was distraught at the futures that awaited the boys filing through the court system. "When a child is brought to us there are only two things to do with him," she said. "We can send him to the reform school or we can send him back to the same conditions from which he came." What these boys need is a friend that the boy can count on, who can give him the feeling that some one is especially interested in him. Upon this realization, Ms. White took a step which would forever change the futures of North Texas children.That, of course, was 85 years ago today. And today -- today -- Stuchal explained, Big Brothers Big Sisters was presented with the very letter Alexander gave White as she went 'round town drumming up support for her endeavor. It's even framed, courtesy the long-gone Van Winkle's downtown.
Ms. White visited civic organizations, churches and clubs to recruit mentors and generate support for the Big Brother movement which began in New York City 23 years earlier. Through the support Judge F.H. Alexander and the Dallas Rotary Club Boys Committee which began the process of recruiting businessmen to serve as mentors, the Dallas Big Brothers Club was ultimately born on February 24, 1927.
Stuchal says that for the past 22 years, the letter has been in the possession of a former Texas Instruments engineer named Glenn Briggs. He stumbled across it in a Goodwill store in McKinney. Briggs didn't know who these people were or the significance of the missive. All he knew was someone has taken the time to frame a yellowed, wrinkled piece of paper. A collector, he knew it meant ... well, something.
And so he stashed it away amongst his other ephemera, unsure of what to do with it. But in recent years, Briggs has fallen ill, spending his time in and out of the hospital. At some point, Stuchal says, Briggs decided he wanted to reunite some of his artifacts with their rightful owners, lest they wind up in the trash heap one day.
"So this phone call came out of the blue from this gentleman," Stuchal says. "He's a collector and ran into this letter in this Goodwill store in McKinney 22 years ago. He's just been sitting on it. And he said, 'This is a piece of history, and when I die I don't want it to go into the garbage.' He's been in and out of the hospital over the last six months, but finally it worked out: I told him, 'We have the perfect day for you to drop it off -- today.'"
What's may be the most remarkable part of this story: This lost-and-found, torn-and-taped piece of paper, which will be put on display at Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star's Irving HQ, will outlive the building that first housed the Dallas Big Brothers Club: the Praetorian downtown, which is soon to meet its maker.