This St. Louisan Has Created A New Profession – That of Play-Time Educator
October 30, 1927
By Harry R. Burke
By and large it was expected that Matt Werner would follow in the footsteps of his father, Percy Werner of 5505 Cates avenue, and become an attorney. Not a settled fact, you understand, but settled in the minds of every one but Matt. In prep school there had been some pre-legal studies, and in that autumn of 1922 the doors of Washington University were yawning, as it were, to engulf him.
But Matt was in doubt. There had been a glorious summer in a boys’ camp up in Maine. The boy, gradually, in his summers there, had won his way to a position of responsibility in charge of the Canoe Club. And then an accident disabled the headmaster, Prof. A. E. Hamilton. Matt had jumped into the breach and directed the camp through the summer months; no little feat for a youth of 20. But now, overshadowing the memory of those happy, if responsible, days, was the specter of university routine. Appalling!
Matt started for St. Louis. On the way he stopped at New Rochelle, N. Y., where some of the boys lived who had been members of his camp. He took them for a motor ride. There was a half-formed scheme in his head which might keep him out of the university.
“Matt,” said the boys, “why don’t you come down here and start a club for us fellows?”
He smiled, “Why don’t you start your own club?”
Club Has 100 Members; None Over 12 Years Old
“Well, we do. But every time we organize a club and find a vacant house or an old barn to meet in, our parents get suspicious and think we are up to some mischief, or the police come in and run us away from there.”
Matt had gone to New Rochelle with a scheme in the back of his head for starting such a club. His plan was to come to fruition a year later and in St. Louis; out of the answer of those boys the unique Sebago Club was born.
Stranger than its name is the Sebago Club. Of its more than 100 members, none is over 13 years old. Out of the little rough board shack on the Des Peres road, off the Warson road in St. Louis County, the members ride in special buses from fashionable and wealthy St. Louis homes. The kiddies are there to play. They will whoop and hurrah and run and climb, just as the children of the tenements will whoop and hurrah and run and climb in street or alley. They will canoe and box and play baseball. They will explore and dig and build their gardens and tend them. They will play prisoners’ base, and tag, and hare and hounds.