My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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CHICAGO, Sunday—Two such full days that I scarcely know what to choose to write about. We were due in Chicago yesterday morning at seven-thirty, but while we slept peacefully, a hot box on one of the cars made it necessary to drop it during the night, and twelve poor passengers were routed out and transferred to other berths on the train. I looked out of my window at seven-thirty and decided that we were still in a very rural part of the country. After we were dressed they told us their sad tale and apologized for the fact that we would not be in Chicago until after ten o'clock.

I was sorry for all the people whom we could hear at breakfast complaining because they had missed a train connection or an important appointment. My only appointment was with the National Youth Administrator here, Mr. Campbell, and he very obligingly waited for me. We spent an hour and a half visiting some very interesting projects. They are taking advantage of all the cooperation from private agencies and other government agencies which they can get here, and this has given them an opportunity to put through an extensive program. I attended a class where young people are being given information on various types of work. If they show aptitudes for any particular type of work there are other classes where they can get some practical experience.

These classes are available at twenty different places in the city of Chicago. I was particularly impressed in a center for colored boys at the way in which every inch of space had been used. They had reconditioned the cellar themselves and were using it as a wood-working shop.

In the afternoon Mrs. Scheider and I went to Madison, Wisconsin for an evening lecture. We were back in Chicago this morning and at the suggestion of a friend I had a teacher from one of the public school in a colored district here, bring me an exhibition of the work which she is doing. I had been told that she had developed a method by which totally untrained young people with practically no cost for materials, could make a variety of saleable articles by hand which really had an artistic value. When Mrs. C. Rosenberg Foster unpacked her wares, I could hardly believe my eyes. Out of fish scales, corn husks, bits of rags, grasses and feathers of every kind, cotton and every kind of waste material, she has taught children in her classes which average one hundred and twenty pupils a day, to do some interesting worwork. It may not be an art, but it has color and charm and is most ingenious. Necessity is certainly the mother of invention, and when the economy program went through for the schools of this city, she found herself with an increased number of pupils and a very much reduced budget. From a thousand dollars it was cut to a little over two hundred. Last year it began to go up again but in the meantime she has evolved a new occupation. She teaches weaving, but wool is expensive so she keeps half her class always busy on this new kind of hand work. She has written a book about it which she calls: "A Brick Without Straw." She has found no publisher yet, but I think it will be of value, for there are many, many teachers throughout this country who need to know how to make "bricks without straw."

E.R.
TMsd 7 November 1937, AERP, FDRL