JANUARY 13, 1939
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I was grieved yesterday to hear of the death of Herman Oliphant, a truly devoted public servant. Many of his associates and friends will feel his loss deeply.
We held the opening meeting here yesterday afternoon for the women's committee which is organizing a campaign for the development of the fight against infantile paralysis. I was enormously impressed by the fact that representative women had come from so many faraway states to attend this meeting. A few minutes before a majority of my guests appeared for tea, Dr. Harriet McGraw from North Platte, Nebraska, came in and I had an opportunity to talk to her about her work in a rural county where she is the only doctor. When she first moved into the area it was generally said: "Oh well, wait until winter, she will never be able to handle the work," but winter came and she accomplished the apparently impossible and met every call.
She is no longer young and I am wondering who will follow in her footsteps. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find doctors for rural areas I understand, and I feel that we ought to bend our energies toward getting groups of doctors together in counties where they will have a little central unity. In that way they can all avail themselves of each other's services and, instead of duplicating laboratory work, they can share one laboratory and modern machinery now needed by doctors.
The infantile paralysis work has convinced me that, if one could get these doctors who work in regions where they have very little chance for consultation, together on definite days, it would help in keeping up with modern developments in medicine and give the patients the opportunity for consultation not otherwise possible.
Last night I went to see Noel Coward's play, in which Beatrice Lillie plays an important part. She is always amusing and clever. The scene where the amateurs put on a show is reminiscent of many such efforts I have lived through and no one can see it without being amused and entertained. On the whole, I do not feel that this is one of the best of Noel Coward's plays, though I may be wrong in my judgement, for I was rather weary last night and perhaps not as equal to entertainment as I should have been.
I have spent a most interesting morning going through the Bureau of Home Economics in the Department of Agriculture. This is, I think, the third time I have seen some of the work which they are doing and each time I see new things. It is ridiculous to try to see so much in such a short time, but by going again and again I think I am receiving a fair picture of what this Department has to offer the people of the country. I hope that the members of my press conference who met there this morning, will be able to familiarize a great number of people with the services which can be called upon if the people desire to use them.