MAY 11, 1938
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Our sky was still gray this morning and before we reached the station a few drops of rain were falling, but I doubt if our parched countryside will have a real rain as yet. In one way, I am rather glad, for there is certain work being done around the house which I would like to have finished in the next day or so. Then, with the farmers, I shall pray for a good solid three days of rain, which I hope will fall gently so as to soak into the ground.
We nearly missed our train this morning, but the engineer recognized us and waited a second to let us on. Even the conductor was kind and tempered his first wrathful suggestion that a train should start the moment it is scheduled to do so.
Not long ago I commented on the fact that today some types of work require a dreary repetition that is hard on the average human being. That comment brought me a story which I am passing along. It appeals to me because, so often in my childhood, I lived in a dreamworld of make-believe to get away from the disagreeable things of life.
I am told that years ago, Miss Jane Addams, in investigating working conditions, found "one young girl whose sole duty was to insert tiny pegs into a machine hour after hour. The girl performed the act so cheerfully and with such evident zest that Miss Addams was moved to inquire how she could retain such an attitude in so dreary and unvaried a duty. The reply was smiling: 'Oh, in the morning I marry a duke and then I am happy all day long.'" We do not marry dukes, but constructive imagination can take us far away from many wearisome and necessary tasks.
I received a tempting invitation today to join the Ninth Writers Conference at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, from July 25th to August 12th. I confess that I would give a great deal to be there, but I would give even more to stay at home! This is a particularly interesting announcement to me, for I knew nothing about it before and it seems a marvelous opportunity for young and unknown writers. From among the best-known writers in our country; poets, novelists, short story writers and editors come to guide these young, aspiring authors. This year they have listed Carl Sandburg, Hervey Allen, Edward Davison, Elmer Rice and many others. Even if one were not going out for actual instruction, the opportunity to meet and talk with these men is an inspiration which anyone in the country might envy.
This morning Mrs. Scheider and I went to view posters in a safety contest in which Mr. DeLancey Kountze had asked me to act as one of the judges. I enjoyed this opportunity although I could only view them from a layman's point of view, which was, perhaps, helpful. The other judges; Mr. W. H. Cameron, of the National Safety Council; Mr. C. B. Falls, famous poster artist and designer; Mr. Jonas Lie, President of the National Academy of Design; and Mr. Everett V. Meeks, Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Yale, were capable of judging them from every point of view.
This afternoon I went to the Todhunter School Exhibition, where pupils and graduates showed some of their achievements in art and handcraft work. Tomorrow will find me back in Washington.