“Crawford Philosophy: Self-Help Is Vital” by Helen Hennessy, December 2nd, 1974
New York – “After a catastrophe I take a deep breath, pin on a grin and get on with something else. No experience I’ve ever had has made me bitter or ever will. I’ve seen what it does to people. Bitterness and self-pity are deadly poisons that can’t be hidden. They seem to exude from the pores.” Joan Crawford (From her autobiography “My Way of Life”)
Goodwill Industries of America, the world’s largest organization to rehabilitate the handicapped, includes Joan Crawford as a member of the board of directors. Appropriate because her philosophy of life is much like that which Goodwill tries to impart to it’s “clients” – the 25,000 physically and mentally handicapped people it employs daily in centers throughout the country and the 9,000 trained and placed in jobs with private industry. The results of the recent Goodwill-sponsored seminar on the unique problems of housing the handicapped particularly interest Joan Crawford.
Experts from both governmental and private sectors flocked to Huston for the conference where topics included the urgent need to alert the public to the necessity of more and better housing for the handicapped.
Such housing is not only physically essential but also psychological in that it encourages self-esteem and increases the chances for self-help on the part of the handicapped. And here’s where Crawford comes in.
Self-help, self-esteem plus a sizable helping of selflessness are the Crawford credo.
“My husband, Alfred Steele’s, death was a crucible of personal pain for me,” Joan said. “I forced myself to take a cameo movie role because I believed in the work-is-best-therapy theory. I was born working,” she said, recalling her childhood helping her mother in a commercial laundry and waiting on tables to put herself through school.
“I was 9 years old then I started and could hardly lift the trays.” Her compassion for the less fortunate runs deep but the “work ethic” goes part and parcel with it. And that’s why Goodwill was founded over 70 years ago.
“Joan’s role in “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?” was the catalyst that heightened her awareness of the problems of the wheelchair disabled.
“Part of that strenuous role was learning how to get myself in and out of bed and into the wheelchair.
I learned how from a young Korean air ace who was injured in a crop duster plane accident after he got safely back from the war.
He taught me to hoist my body into the bed first and then lift each leg. [Also how to] fall out of the wheelchair without hurting myself.”
The role drove home the difficulties that those not disabled might be aware of the perils involved in doing the simplest household chores, the inaccessibility of high shelves, the navigational hazards in even a single curb crossing and the psychological necessity of cheerful surroundings.
“I’m rooting for the expert recommendations which came out of the Houston housing conference to be seriously considered civic leaders all over the country – especially the one made by Dean Phillips, president of Goodwill. He stressed the need for providing adequate housing for the handicapped to enable them to leave institutions.”
Here’s her “happy motto” she’d like to pass on to all:
“I never think of yesterdays. I live for today – preparing for tomorrow.”