SPEAK FOR STAGE CHILDREN
Bijou Heron and Mrs. Ruth Litt Convince Woman’s Forum.
Bijou Heron, the little girl who used to play Oliver in Dickens’s “Oliver Twist” a generation or more ago [. . .] came back yesterday morning and told the members of the Woman’s Forum at the Berkeley Lyceum how delightful it was to be a stage child.
“Those were the happiest years of my life,” she said. “As I look back on them I think there is no happiness which can approach that of the stage child save that in the kindergarten. In each there are wise and kindly people who make the child’s welfare their own—its health, its education and its happiness. The stage child has not one kindergarten teacher, but many—that is, everybody in the company.”
“I was never asked to do anything which would not be asked of a child in the best home. Shall I tell you a little story? Well, I was acting under the Palmer management out in California, just at the time when there was a demand for Sunday performances.”
“I was afraid I’d have to play on Sunday against which I had religious scruples, so I wrote to Mr. Palmer himself—the kindest man who ever lived, he was!—and right away I received a telegram from New York from him saying: “I will never ask you to do anything against your conscience.”
“It wasn’t only my morals, either—even my manners were taken care of by those dear actor friends of mine. I remember I was rude, jestingly, to James Lewis, the wonderful man who played Charley Bates to my Oliver, and he told me he could not speak to me till I apologized. I stood it for three weeks, then my shame conquered my pride and I told him I was sorry.”
“‘Bully for you, little girl! I’m glad you had the pluck,’ he said. That was the kind of influence surrounding the stage child.”
“Yes I used to love the theatre. I used to pray for it to be time to go to rehearsal, and nothing made me happier than the weeks when we had eight performances.”
[Bijou Herron] proved to be so convincing that the members of the Forum forgot the “humanitarian” arguments with which they had come armed, and there couldn’t one of them think up a dissenting word. So Miss Helen Varick Boswell had to declare the meeting adjourned without the usual “discussion of the topic” which is the pride of the Forum’s heart.
New-York Tribune 2/17/1912: 9. Print.