NOVEMBER 2, 1938
NEW YORK, Monday—I flew up from Washington yesterday afternoon and spent a little time trying on clothes for the winter season. The season still seems very far away but I realize that before I know it, it will soon be upon me.
In the evening, just as I was sitting down to a pile of mail, a young girlfriend of mine dashed in with a handkerchief on which was depicted every step of the "Lambeth Walk." It was really amusingly done and led at once to a great show of energy on the part of two of the people present. They wanted to show me how to dance it, so that I had quite a good lesson in these new steps which I shall probably never try. An hour later the pile of mail still awaited my attention, but when quiet settled over us I finally went through it.
This morning I visited an American toy factory. This is a more or less new industry in this country and I was particularly interested in seeing under what conditions toys are produced. The manufacturer pointed out to me that it is important to have healthy people work on toys.
I was shown a number of new ideas. For instance, some of the furry animals can be washed and a new material has been developed out of which babies' toys are made. They can be licked and scrubbed, for they are entirely waterproof. This adds to the life of babies' toys. I saw all the processes for making stuffed dolls and animals and was fascinated by their eyes which moved. When I was a child, all eyes were buttons which stayed put.
One machine, which brushes the lint off toys, I thought might create a hazard to the worker. It seemed to me that the little particles of the material might affect the nose, throat and lungs if breathed in. When I asked the workers if they found it better to wear masks, they told me nobody worked on that machine for a long time.
It is, of course, far safer to have toys made in a factory under healthful conditions, than to have them made in the homes, as they were often made in the past and still are occasionally.
Finally, I went up to the toy building where many of the merchants have their showrooms, and could not help thinking what a paradise it would be for children. Dolls of every description—"Shirley Temple," "Snow White," "The Seven Dwarfs," etc.—and games and puzzles of every kind. But I think two of the most fascinating things I saw were in the first factory. They were "Ferdinand the Bull" with young "Ferdinand" beside him. They must delight any reader of the book. In addition, "The Three Bears" are a joy. I know no child who does not cherish that story from the earliest days on to maturity. Then I looked at the educational work being carried on and planned in Mr. Dubinsky's office building and visited a children's sweater and coat shop.
The rest of the day has been spent Christmas shopping, except for a visit to the National Headquarters of the Girl Scouts to buy the first box of cookies in the cookie sale campaign. I think their cookies are excellent and I must tell you more about my visit in tomorrow's column.