AUGUST 9, 1938
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have just spent an interesting couple of hours with 14 members of the American Youth Congress. The head of the Congress, Mr. Hinckley, had made a statement in this morning's press denying that the group is Communistic, which seems to me rather unnecessary, for it is quite obvious that a group with such varied organizations in it could hardly be a branch of the Communist Party. However, I understand that one of the magazines, not only accuses them of this, but adds certain little items as to my connection with the group. Perhaps the fact that there is no basis of truth in these statements makes me less credulous of all other statements.
It is interesting to be in a position where you have the opportunity of knowing the truth about a few subjects, but it has its unfortunate side in that it makes you doubt the veracity of many things which you read and hear. Sometimes I think that people are so anxious to believe that certain things are true, that they state them as facts without waiting to substantiate them.
I was given an uncomfortable hour the other evening by one gentleman who called on the telephone to state that a yacht on which some of my family were sailing had foundered and that everyone on board had been rescued and was being brought ashore. When we finally ran the story down, there were two entirely unrelated facts; one—some of my family had been sailing; two—a ship had gone down with a somewhat similar name!
I had a most amusing letter in the morning mail from a lady who writes as follows: "You have had many answers, of course, but here is another. In 'My Day' of Saturday, you write again about transplanting butterfly weed—wondering if it will come up. It will. I brought some up from Montauk, Missouri, years ago and now I have all I want—it's lovely. Everyone is so enthusiastic about it. But this means no votes for your husband. I'm a Republican and stronger than ever."
It seems that the appeal of the garden is still universal and has nothing to do with politics. Another friend of mine wrote me the other day that he found my column pleasant because it never dealt with politics. This feeling that politics must of necessity be unpleasant is somewhat unfortunate and yet it seems to run through everything we do, for people are constantly saying to me: "Oh well—you know that organization is difficult to work in because so much politics goes on." So the word has connotations even outside of government.
I can only say that I wish for the good of our democracy we could induce people to feel that politics is only unpleasant when the people as a whole do not take part in it and do not keep it at the level where it should be. Bad methods of government, graft and poor public servants arise largely from the individual citizen's lack of interest in politics.
It is refreshing to find an article, on the first page of one of our metropolitan newspapers, telling about a national save-the-circus movement. The circus is certainly a healthy interest. It keeps us all young and we should never lose our pleasure in it.