In the fall of 1914, a man named William Edwin Hall had dinner with a friend. That dinner changed the course of Hall’s life. This socially prominent, successful lawyer was captivated by a story his friend told. What was the story? Not a discussion of current judicial activities. Not the latest Wall Street news. Instead Hall was regaled with tales of the amazing success that the New York Boys’ Club was having with the juvenile street gangs from New York’s Lower East Side slums.
A few weeks later, Hall attended his first Boys’ Club meeting. To his great astonishment, these shabby slum boys were conducting an organized meeting and carefully adhering to the traditional Robert’s Rules of Order. When a point was in question about proper procedure, Hall — with his doctorate in business from Yale and law degree from Harvard — didn’t know the answer. But a “small lad in a tattered red sweater” (as Hall would later describe him) did know the appropriate rule and how it should be applied.
Little did he realize that this was the beginning of almost 40 years of dedicated service to the youth of America. This man, from one of the most prominent families in the small town of St. Marys, Pennsylvania, would become the champion of hundreds of thousands of impoverished boys who lived in the crowded slums of big cities.