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The New York Times, February 27, 1908

Fifty-Nine Hospitals with 18,000 Beds Now Represented in Its Directorate.
Mark Twain Runs Their Branch - Mrs. Rice, at St. Regis Meeting. Tells What Has Come of Small Beginning.

The Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise held its first annual meeting last night at the Hotel St. Regis, Fifth Avenue and Fifty-fifth Street, and Mrs. Isaac L. Rice, its founder and President, reported the progress it had made.

One of the newest moves was the organization, with the full consent and cooperation of the Board of Education, of a Children's Hospital Branch, to be composed of children pledged to make as little noise as possible in the neighborhood of hospitals. Mark Twain has agreed to be President of this. In accepting the office he wrote to Mrs. Rice:

I have an abundance of sympathy for this movement. If I were younger I would like to work for it. Now, I thank you for the compliment you pay me, and shall be happy to have my name used as President of the Children's Hospital Branch. Sincerely yours, MARK TWAIN.

The Board of Education indorsed the movement for the organization of the Children's Hospital Branch last month, and the work has just got under way. Public School 69, in the West Fifty-fourth Street, has sent word that its 1,540 pupils have been organized. All the children of the Free Synagogue have also been enrolled.

Children who take the anti-noise pledge receive buttons to wear, designed to job the memory of the wearer and impress upon him the responsibility of the pledge. The buttons are in black and white, and in the centre is the word, "Humanity."

Child Recruits Write.

The membership of the Children's Hospital Branch is not to be confined to school children. The society wants to enroll every child in the city, and Mrs. Rice has started a card catalogue of the names of the volunteers in this army. The first recruit, signing himself James Gutman, wrote a letter to Mrs. Rice on his own account, saying:

"I hereby pledge myself not to make any noise around a hospital."

The next recruit was his brother, and the third was Joseph Liebmann, who wrote:

"I will not distub (sic) the sick people in the hospital."

Reviewing the short history of the society and the circumstances of its organization, Mrs. Rice, in a short address last night, said that about fifteen months before the society was born she tried to see what she could do toward abating the noise in the East River near the hospitals. Having gone to all sorts of Municipal Boards, to Albany, and to Washington, she found that no one had any authority in the matter. Later the bill was passed which put the power controlling indiscriminate whistling in the hands of the Supervising Inspectors of Steamboats.

Fifty-nine Hospitals Grateful.

The society was organized about a year ago, and now has on its board the most distinguished men in the city. A few months ago, Mrs. Rice said, it had in its Directorate representatives from eighteen hospitals, containing 8,500 beds. Now fifty-nine hospitals, with 18,018 beds, are represented. The membership has grown to about 200, and the movement has attracted serious attention all over the world.

Mrs. Rice spoke of a letter received recently from Dr. S. Weir Mitchell of Philadelphia, who called attention to the effect of the noises caused by flat wheels on surface and elevated cars. She said that where notices indicating "quiet zones" around hospitals had been posed the hospitals reported that the noise had very noticeably abated. She also recalled that last year, because of the orders of Commissioner Bingham, the thousands of sick in the hospitals had passed the easiest Fourth of July known in New York for many a year.

The next work planned, Mrs. Rice said, was to have the hospital streets and the harbor patrolled by special policemen to abate unnecessary noise, and to do something with the flat wheel nuisance.

Getting to an Elegy Ideal.

Health Commissioner Darlington said he thought the society had accomplished wonders, and he believed it might well continue its work until New Yorkers lived up to the lines in Gray's Elegy:

Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Dr. William Hanna Thomson told how closely connected the heart is with the ear, and emphasized the importance of quiet in treating nervous diseases. The public could not appreciate, he said, how many lives have been lost because of unnecessary noise.

Cordial thanks were voted to Mark Twain and to Mrs. Rice. The latter must evidently have a dual personality, and some Mahatma accomplishments, for dispatches from Paris reported Marcel Prevost as having interviewed her there yesterday as the "Queen of Silence."

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