MAY 16, 1938
WASHINGTON, Sunday—I did not have space on Saturday to tell you anything about my visit to the Government homestead near Charleston, West Virginia. I had always called it "Red House," but discovered that the post office is "Eleanor," and noted with some amusement that the sign at the entrance to the homestead reads: "Eleanor Unincorporated."
The Legion Post met me and escorted me to the stand in the park which is being developed. The Women's Auxiliary of the Post presented me with a lovely hand-woven runner which had been made in the craft shop, a basket of flowers, and a bunch of roses which one homesteader had picked in his own garden.
Except for their home gardens, their agricultural ventures are run on a cooperative basis. A tract with an overhead watering system should produce some very good early vegetables. A small nursery of trees has been planted and the purchase of a dairy farm at some little distance from the homestead looks as though it would be profitable. They need an industry and are still in an unsettled condition because a visible means of permanent employment is not yet in sight.
I visited several families and marvelled at the work they have done in their homes. The ingenuity and loving care which has gone into the furnishing and arranging of these houses is rarely found among people who are not yet quite secure in their future. It shows courage and good morale and I feel very proud of this group of people. They have had hard times and have met them with better courage than most of us.
In the project's recently opened cooperative restaurant, the State Administrator of the National Youth Administration lunched with us. He has a tree surgery project for the boys of the homestead and a weaving project for the girls. I did not have time to see much of the work done by the Youth Administration, but Mr. Glenn S. Callaghan, the director, is full of enthusiasm. I think the praise which he gives to the young people working under him on the construction projects is really deserved.
Forty thousand young men and women between the ages of 16 and 25 have been on the program since it started and 8000 are at present participating in student aid and work programs. These young people, under expert guidance of course, have built a plant herbarium at Marshall College, water supply cisterns for rural schools, gymnasiums, community centers, youth work centers, school buildings, a museum for Negro historical records, playgrounds, athletic fields and have engaged in many more activities I cannot begin to cover. These things could not have been done except through this program and they will be of far more value to the communities than the money which has been expended.
After speaking at the dinner of the State Federation of Business and Professional Women, I took the night train back to Washington and found a group of of Todhunter graduates with Miss Dickerman and Miss Goodwin, awaiting me at the White House. We had lunch for some high school graduates from Arthurdale, West Virginia, visited some of the old historic houses in Alexandria, Virginia, and held a "garden party" indoors because of the rain.