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Bring back police-sponsored boys clubs

When my brother, Frank, and I were growing up in Baltimore City on South Calhoun Street we were both charter members of the Southwestern Police Boys Club on the third floor of the police station at Pratt and Calhoun streets. The club was run by full-time policemen and had an indoor basketball court, boxing ring, pool tables, ping-pong tables, a woodworking shop, a Boy Scout troop and a TV room. I believe it was open six days a week and closed about 9 p.m. In the summer, we would go away to Camp Ritchie for one or two weeks. I believe the cost was about $6 per week. We also had baseball teams and football teams.

As I look back on those happy times spent with my friends at the Boys Club and the devotion those policemen gave to helping us boys, I feel that that experience was a major factor in our growing up process. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Back then, my brother and a friend of his got interested in ham radio and crystal sets while participating at the Boys Club. He eventually became an electrical engineer and a valuable employee at Bell Labs. He is now 81 years old and lives in Massachusetts. I loved to play pool and ping-pong and leaned toward the business side and became a Certified Public Accountant. I am 77 years old and live in Nottingham.

It baffles me as to why we don't have similar clubs to help the youngsters today. When we came home from school, we headed right for the Boys Club until supper time. Our parents knew where we were and that we were in good hands. I realize these are different times in which we live but the basic principles are still there. With a few adjustments, we could do it again. Our father was a retired police sergeant in Baltimore City, and I want to thank the policemen who devoted their time and talent in molding us kids during the early years of our youth. We respected them and they were our friends. I hope this might encourage officials in Baltimore and Baltimore County to rethink the idea of closing the Police Boys Clubs. They did and do make a difference.

Bob Witt, Nottingham

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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