The Red Cross had a youth art program in the 50s and early 60s where a hundred works of American art were chosen to tour the world in a international show. I was chosen twice, when I was twelve, and when sixteen. The work I rendered at twelve can be seen in the photo above hanging on the wall. It is a watercolor of a sailboat.
The second work was a watercolor of Oakland’s Produce Market painted from memory. My brother and I worked the summers at our father’s warehouse located at second and Market street near the train tracks in Jack London Square. Acme Produce was located in a Victorian warehouse with a façade like the one on the house I lived in with my wife, the artist, Mary Ann Tharaldsen.
In my painting was a red truck like the Ford the Presco males drove around in, delivering produce as far away as Crockette California. This painting is described in a letter sent to my mother by a official at University High School. After coming home from Europe, the Principle asked if he could hang it in his office for awhile.
I was given a brochure that had the artwork in it that got lose long with both paintings. My uncle Vinnie saved a panting I was honored for when I was in the seventh grade, he finding it on the garage floor. He got it framed and hung to with the seascape I gave him.
Art Education;Nov52, Vol. 5 Issue 5, p8
The article focuses on the American Junior Red Cross International Art Program. The program is a joint sponsorship of the National Art Education Association and the American Junior Red Cross. The program was discussed by a group of teenagers from the Birmingham Schools with art teachers at the Southeastern Arts Association Conference. An eighth grade participant claims that the friendly understanding of their art creates a new feeling in people about children from other countries. A German exchange student at Birmingham says that the first time he saw the exhibit in Hamburg, Germany when he was in high school was a wonderful experience for him.
Work Continued After the War
When the war was over, the Junior Red Cross continued its activities. Beginning in 1923, the Junior Red Cross provided funds to support Indian schools in the American Southwest. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the youth organization assisted in the distribution of surplus wheat and cotton, the collection of clothing and food, and the canning of fruits and vegetables.
And Another War
In the 1940s during World War II the group increased its activities for the war effort. Members produced clothing, toys, furniture and art works. They entertained at military camps and hospitals. They helped collect paper, cloth and scrap metals for use by the military. They volunteered in hospitals and for the first time youth members recruited blood donors for the Red Cross.
Young People and the Red Cross Today
Membership in the Junior Red Cross began to decline after the second world war. Activities by junior members was less visible during the Korean and Vietnam wars. But that doesn’t mean young Iowans aren’t involved in volunteer work. The term “Junior Red Cross” is no longer used to signify the young members. Many young people participate in Red Cross work and projects across the state. The Red Cross Club, American Red Cross Babysitters Training Course, Youth Against HIV/AIDS and Masters of Disaster are Red Cross activities designed for young people.