MARCH 12, 1938
EL PASO, Texas, Friday—The days are so crowded that I find it difficult even to give you a glimpse of all my impressions. I visited a community center in Los Lunas, New Mexico with Mr. Popejoy, the National Youth Administration Director. It is one of ten the NYA has built in the State.
It is a charming building built around a central courtyard. On the right, as you go in, is a room used as a library to lend books to the neighborhood. When we entered the community center, an orchestra, consisting mainly of mouth-organs with a guitar and another stringed instrument, was playing American and Spanish songs. These Spanish-American people preserve their folk songs and also learn songs in English.
On the left, was a showroom in which boys and girls exhibit things they have learned to make in the center, in order that they build up sales for articles made on their own time. Hand-woven hangings, a beautifully carved chest and a well-made, hand-pegged table and chairs were already on exhibition. The furniture for the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico, was made on this project and we stopped there for a minute to see how it looked.
Around the courtyard there are weaving and tanning shops. Tanning should be a most useful skill, for this is a cattle country where all kinds of hides may be obtained to be cured and made into anything from rugs to slippers and jackets. Furniture making and carving filled the other rooms.
We drove to Sante Fe to have luncheon with Mrs. Franklin K. Lane and her daughter, Nancy. I visited the sewing room in Santa Fe. Sewing rooms are much the same everywhere, but so many women work in them, it is often a disappointment to them if I do not stop in for a minute. I was interested in the type of women working in the sewing rooms in New Mexico. Since there are no factories, few of them will use the skill in sewing they learn on the projects for commercial purposes, but this new skill will make an enormous change in their home conditions.
We had tea with Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Calkins in one of the oldest Spanish houses in Albuquerque. There was a most beautiful cottonwood tree in the center of the courtyard and the arrangement of rooms around the court was charming. I also liked the the corner fireplaces. It is interesting to see baking ovens outside of many rural homes. They are similar to those I have seen way up on the St. Lawrence River in Canada on the Gaspe Peninsula.
After the lecture in the evening, we left by train for El Paso, Texas. This morning, I have seen several projects here—a very large sewing room, a recreational park which the NYA boys are developing, a hospital where some of the NYA girls are learning to keep records and be useful in the laboratory and the wards, a project in which the WPA is helping to check and fingerprint people who have been deported. The records, which this work will bring up to date, will be very valuable to the police forces in every part of the country. Again, the rest of my tale must wait until tomorrow.