NOVEMBER 15, 1937
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sunday—It intrigues me greatly as I go through the country and look at one little village after another, and watch the children who hang around the stations to see the trains go by. I keep wondering about them and trying to piece together the kind of lives they lead in each and all the little houses. Such myriads and myriads of families all over this country, and to all of them something is happening every day!
We were on a very leisurely train this morning, and as we stopped at one little station I saw a man in blue overalls get off, carrying a basket. His skin was white and parchment-like. He looked old and walked bent over, but at the station waiting for him was a woman who looked almost as old. With her were four little children, not one of them over eight or ten years old. They hardly greeted each other; he seemed to take their presence for granted. One of the children took his basket and they trudged away down the dusty road towards the little row of houses which were set a little back from the railroad. What was their story; what was going to happen to them and to the children?
As we came through Grayville, Illinois, a little group of people came down to the station to greet us, and I was happy in remembering my visit there a year ago with Mrs. Helm. They are so fond of her that they took Mrs. Scheider and myself in as though we were old friends just because we were friends of hers.
Evansville, Indiana, where I spoke last night, is beautifully situated on the Ohio River, but I can well imagine that during the flood time last year, when they tell me the water came over the parapet and up to the verand of the hotel where we were staying, and boats were in the streets through which we drove, that it was not so pleasant. Many people must have wished that the Ohio River was further away!
After the usual press conference and lunch, and a rather hurried glimpse of the mail, I went out with the President of the Woman's Rotary Club, Miss Jenner, and the Mayor and Congressman Boehne. First we went to lay a wreath on the tomb of Private Gresham, who was the first solider killed overseas during the World War. Then to look at the slum clearance project in the colored section of the City, which is evidently a matter of great pride to the Mayor. He is very happy that this undesirable section from the point of view of housing, has been wiped out. He told me that the new houses would rent at a approximately the same amount per room as the old ones which had been extremely high considering what they were. That is one point in any slum clearance project which has to be watched, for there is no use in providing new housing at a cost beyond the incomes of the former residents of the neighborhood.
We were rather late getting on the train last night, but our hosts were still kind and thoughtful and unwearied. We felt a little loath to get up and off the train by seven-forty-five this morning. We are now on our way to Kansas City where I speak tonight.