SEPTEMBER 12, 1936
ALBANY, N.Y.—I have just finished a war book, though several years ago I swore I would never read another one! This was by the author, Mel Erskine, and had a foreword by Ida Tarbell and a very charming etching of the Ruins of Bailly by Zella de Milhaut. The name "Thank God For Laughter" made you feel that it would be different and yet it is not. Bunty, the American heroine and her English friend are two very real and delightful people.
There are descriptions in this book which in their utter simplicity bring you stark naked horror. No flowery descriptions could do it so well. The little story for instance, of the ambulance driver who chatted with a young soldier at the end of a bridge while he timed the firing of shells so that she could make her way across with her patient in comparative safety. They smoked and talked and when he said "go," she went. The trip was safely made, the patient deposited at the hospital. She returned to be stopped by an officer at the bridge and asked if she would take the body of one of his men to the morgue and she gazed with horror at her young friend with his head blown off.
I stopped reading these books because I began to feel I was growing too emotional about war but as I read this through the other evening, I wondered if it was possible to be too emotional, whether any means which brought war close to a generation which has not seen war and experienced it, was not entirely justifiable.
I get too wrought up on this subject, so let's turn to another!
In my mail the other day came a letter from an educated young girl, who being unable to find any other work, took a place in one of the suburbs of a large city as a domestic servant. Her letter bubbled over with protest. She practically said to me what another young girl said on another matter: "If you know all this, why don't you do something about it?" Well, I would recommend that every woman who intends to take on a maid should do every bit of her own work first. When she knows exactly the time it takes, the hard work, the weariness it entails, then she can begin with intelligence to plan what her maid can do.
Young people are more and more being obliged to do their own work because incomes are not always adequate for two to begin on, unless the woman contributes in work either in or out of the home. Modern conveniences make it nothing like as strenuous or difficult a task, as it was for our grandmothers, though it does require more intelligence, for the new work saving gadgets have to be understood and taken care of. Very often these young people come from homes where they never lifted a finger for themselves. They have a part time, occassionally a full time maid. Some of them adjust themselves and do a splendid job, others make life miserable for themselves, their husband and the maid!