GOOD SAMARITANS, INC.
The Caltech Service League stands ready to handle any emergency in a student's life‑whether it involves a necktie, a dentist, a loan or a layette.
by RUTH D. BOWEN
For the usual situations by which the student is affected there are rules of procedure and definite sources to consult for help, but when the out‑of‑the‑ordinary worry or emergency arises, where does the student away from home, sometimes even in a foreign land, possibly responsible for a wife and young family, turn for a helping hand to tide him over a rough spot?
Such as Jim, whose baby developed frightening symptoms one Thanksgiving Day and needed prompt transportation from a suburban town to Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. In the midst of his worried search for a car Jim was referred to the Service League, which quickly arranged to get them to the hospital
Or the graduate student here from behind the Iron Curtain who was in very great need of dental work, due to malnutrition and lack of knowledge of dental hygiene. His problem of education, extra needed vitamins and repair work was handled with care and understanding.
One mother from across the country, whose son was paving court to a local young damsel, remembered the old adage that love is blind and wrote hopefully to the League, wondering if someone knew the young lady. The couple was invited to dinner and mother received a comforting letter about a charming girl. Much later, after she had met her lovely daughter‑in‑law, the League was thanked again for its friendly reassurance.
Students from other countries sometimes find themselves in tight financial situations due to travel costs, restrictions on amount of money that may be brought out of their native land, sometimes ruinous rates of exchange, our often higher prices, and their inexperience in our customs and habits of living which cause them to misjudge what their income will provide.
For instance. Juan and his attractive bride found, on taking stock around the holidays, not only that their funds had shrunk alarmingly to cover expenses for two for the remainder of the year, but also that another complication had entered the picture – Juan, Jr. must be prepared for. Their concern was eased somewhat by provision of a layette and money to return home on at the end of the year.
Family complications are not the exclusive prerogative of the graduate student. There are a few married undergraduate students, particularly those who have already served their term of military duty. Also, heavy responsibilities and sometimes paralyzing emergencies can occur in the life of an unmarried young student. Not everyone is supplied with the complete quota of family, standing behind him with money or assurance or both.
Arthur, whose mother was a widow, had in his high school days contributed a sizeable amount to the support of his mother and two small brothers. When it became possible for him to attend Caltech on a scholarship, the mother boarded the smaller boys out in order to hold a job and support them.
For some months everything was under control, until unforeseen circumstances found the mother out of a job and a home. A very worried boy was referred to the Service League. An inexpensive apartment was found for the mother, a job was also provided, the small boys were entered in a Day Nursery, and another valuable young man could return to worrying about math, physics and other simple subjects.
Many of the young families are relieved to find they may borrow needed baby furniture from the Baby Furniture Pool maintained h the League. Large items like cribs, high chairs and play pens are expensive and difficult to transport long distances, or to store for future use in the usual student family.
The bi-monthly Well Baby Conference, with a pediatrician and registered nurse in charge, is always a center of interest. Located in Kerckhoff Biology Laboratory, between a professor’s office and a class room, it provides variety to the atmosphere of studious research.
(One morning when Dr. Beadle, head of the Biology Division and this year’s President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, poked his head in the door, the Service League chairman handling records for the physician said, in worried accents, “Dr. Beadle, you aren’t going to have a class next door every Tuesday morning, are you?” Dr. Beadle’s surprised response was, “Why, will we bother you?”)
The Service League mothers who maintain the Well Baby Conference never quite become accustomed to the sight of an interested young father from another country whipping out his slide rule to translate infant formulas or baby’s weight to the metric system, with which he is more familiar.
Usually the Well Baby Conference gives only a routine physical check, the usual formula adjustments and immunization shots, but on occasion something more serious shows up to the doctor’s experienced eyes. One morning it was observed that a baby had a but if a fever and was unable to straighten one led. Immediate simple medication was used. X-rays were made at the Health Center and the baby was taken to the Orthopedic Hospital for further observation and treatment. The family was given a loan to take care of the emergency situation.
Interesting as these individual items of assistance may be, actually the major part of the work of the Caltech Service League, organized in 1947 by parents of Caltech students and interested friends, is the general welfare, comfort and morale of the large group of students, supplementing the activities of the regular student organizations where a need is not met through the usual channels.
Our younger generation tends to grow taller, so some special long beds added to the Health Center provide for the comfort of the boys who must spend time in the infirmary. Cookies, fruit juices, soups, magazines and other extras are appreciated. New curtains arid upholstery for the remodeled building also make for more cheerful surroundings.
Throop Club, the gathering place for recreation and study for off‑campus men, has been the recipient of furniture, draperies, lights, game equipment, records, tools and magazines.
Each year the campus YMCA receives a sizeable contribution, and last year, in addition, draperies, chairs, and dishes were provided for their new quarters.
The Franklin Thomas Record Lending Library was established in memory of the former Dean of Students.
A student wardrobe is maintained, from which boys may borrow clothing, such as sport jackets, slacks, tuxedos, dinner jackets, or overcoats to fill a need.
New metal furniture was acquired for the ASCIT Board Room and a pool table, lights and other equipment for the Game Room, used by all the boys in the houses.
Help has been given to the Glee Club, the Ski Hut, and $300 was contributed toward the expenses of eight Caltech delegates to the Inter-Collegiate Model United Nations meeting in San Francisco last spring.
The Student Service Committee is always ready to help individual students when emergencies arise.
Membership in the Service League is a closer tie with the younger generation, helping to make student days more satisfying, and equally, assisting parents and friends to understand more fully the problems with which young people are faced.