A burden was laid upon me a year ago in November to show films to the public school children of Virginia, from grade four on through high school. This humble beginning met with marked success, and God is continuing to open doors to receive these health truths. I have been asked by the editor of THE MINISTRY to tell how this all came about, and to give some details of my work.
While I was doing colporteur and Bible work in Norfolk, Virginia, one of my readers expressed interest in receiving help for her husband, who was an inveterate smoker. This man and his wife were Sunday school workers and leaders in a Methodist mission church in the poor section of the city. After I showed them three still films on tobacco and alcohol, they were both enthusiastic in their request that I show the same films to the young people of their church the next evening, and this I did.
Although the man did not cease smoking altogether, his wife carried the burden for the youth of the neighborhood, and kept after me for three weeks to show these same films to the children in the near-by school. So I finally went to the superintendent of the Norfolk city schools and secured permission to show the films in this particular school. Conditions in this public school were the worst in the city.
Nearly all the teachers smoked, and the children were smoking in and about the premises before and after school and during recess. Liquor was also used, and a child was occasionally sent home because he was intoxicated.
Thus my initial experience in temperance lecturing occurred under very untoward circumstances. But God blessed, and I had success. I spent a month in that one school showing the several films to the various grades and groups. Over eight hundred of the children signed abstinence pledges, and requested literature and the prescription by Dr. Daniel Kress on how to cure the tobacco habit. When I pass by this school today, I rejoice when I observe that there is no smoking about the premises.
This was but the beginning. I became so interested in this work that I devoted my full time to it, with • some colporteur work to help pay expenses. Along with other literature I use the Narcotic Facts Set (Pacific Press), which has a book for the intermediate grades, one for junior youth, and one for high school youth, also the Signs of the Times temperance number, and Our Little Friend temperance annual, as well as the Clean Life Educator, a nondenominational paper published bimonthly at Winona Lake, Indiana, by the Clean Life League of America. I also gave away thousands of our tracts on temperance ("Why Boys Should Not Smoke" ; "Why Girls Should Not Smoke" ; "Shall We Use Tobacco ?" ; "The Liquor Menace, and the Present Emergency"; "Charged With Murder" ; "Tobacco"; "Nicotine Knockout"; "Who Bath Woes?").
I have shown temperance filmstrips in over fifty schools in a period of seven months, reaching over twelve thousand students. This constituted more than two hundred presentations, as I always showed more than one film in a school. In addition to this I show the films in homes, churches, and vacation Bible schools, to W.T.C.U. and other temperance organizations, in juvenile delinquent homes, and have even been requested to show them in jails.
Twice I have been before the previewing committee of the Virginia State Board of Education, and they have suggested that all I50 of the county and city superintendents be contacted to preview these films and textbooks (Narcotic Facts Set) so each superintendent can arrange to secure this material to be used as health aids in his school.
In some States (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota) the Narcotic Facts Set is sold to schools, and I am hopeful that the set will soon be listed by the State Board of Education in Virginia. I am exceedingly anxious to see these temperance books and filmstrips on the approved list in every State in the Union. I have been asked why I do not work in other States, but my reply to this is that Virginia is one of the neediest fields, because it is next to the largest tobacco-growing State.
Often after showing the tobacco film in which the decision is "Thumbs down on cigarette," as I meet boys and girls on the street they greet me heartily with "Thumbs down !" and point their thumbs down as they pass. As I board streetcars and busses, they rise, repeat this pass word, and offer me a seat. On one occasion a newspaper reporter's curiosity was aroused, and he began to ask questions. As a result a write-up appeared in the local paper.
These temperance films are made by Mayse Studio, Box 25, San Diego 12, California. The. cigarette film, revised recently, is in two parts. It takes fifty minutes. It is called "A Question of Partnership." In it six juniors organize themselves into a club. Mr. Cigarette applies for membership, but the group decide to investigate him before giving an answer.
The film on alcohol, entitled "Al. K. Hall. Finds a Job," takes forty minutes. Al invited himself to a school social, but before accepting him the boys and girls consult their high school chemistry teacher and dietitian, also the traffic officer, the physician, the welfare worker, and others. Arguments against drinking are interspersed with the narrative.
It is remarkable how much prejudice is broken down by such a service. God can use many consecrated, self-sacrificing workers in this work and will greatly bless their efforts. Gospel workers and lay workers alike are needed to carry out a similar program of temperance education in other States. What a marvelous work could be accomplished if we could introduce these aids into every State of the