JANUARY 4, 1938
HYDE PARK, Monday—Yesterday I met some friends who arrived in New York, and then I journeyed up to the country. The last few days have not been very cold and the landscape looks more like November. I am not quite sure whether I am going to get a real glimpse of winter or not.
In all the happy activities we have been having, I could not help but think of a sad little story that was told me on the train the other day before I left at Billings, Montana. The conductor in talking to me remarked: "Some people had it pretty hard." When I inquired what specific thing had brought this into his mind, he told me there was a family on board being sent back to Philadelphia by the Relief Administration of Portland, Ore.
A man, his wife and two children, had gone out six months ago with what little capital they had saved from long years of work in Philadelphia. They had rosy promises from the man's uncle, who wanted him to join in a chicken business, and they thought all was secure. It did not work out and the money melted away until they finally had to apply for relief. The young mother is pregnant and has developed tuberculosis. Now they are on their way back to be supported, until the man can get a job, by her father and mother, who are barely able to take on this extra burden.
We all know dozens of similar stories, but when you actually talk to people it brings it a little closer. His look when he said: "I don't want relief. I just want a chance to work," sticks in my mind and makes me hope that chance will soon materialize.
I also hope that before the young mother becomes more seriously ill, or before the children become infected, that she can be taken care of. I shuddered at the thought of a youngster sleeping in the same berth with her on the train.
Every day I wish we could keep in mind the many things which we so often take for granted in our own lives and for which we should be thankful. It might make us search a little more diligently for the places where we could extend a helping hand. I still believe it is the personal and individual thing which is done by one human being for another that is the most valuable assistance which can be rendered in time of trouble. Better not only for the one who receives, but a thousand times happier for the one who gives.