FEBRUARY 17, 1939
ITHACA, N.Y., Thursday—I seem to be going backward in this diary these days, but every day has been so filled that I have to more or less review the days that have passed in order to tell you what I think is interesting. Before we took the train for Elmira on Tuesday night, Mrs. Morgenthau and I went to the theatre in New York City.
We had read many conflicting criticisms of "Here Come The Clowns" by Philip Barry. Some people seemed to think it difficult to understand. The full meaning does not really come out until the second half of the play, but it is a beautiful piece of writing and very well acted. Eddie Dowling gets across the full feeling in his part in a very remarkable way. He plays a poor bewildered human being who cannot see why a good God should inflict sorrows and tribulations upon his children and finally is the one who rises to the real explanation, the liberty of the human soul. It is a trifle discouraging and yet, perhaps, something of which we all need to be reminded.
We reached Elmira Wednesday morning to find snow and an icy, very beautiful landscape. After breakfast at the hotel with Dr. and Mrs. J. Hillis Miller, we started for Keuka College, where I spoke for a few minutes to the assembled students and then went to a luncheon in Penn Yan to meet the workers on a community project. This project is developed under NYA and is one of three similar ones to be worked out in different types of communities.
In this case it is done in a small town of about 5,000 serving a large rural community. They have brought together every agency touching the life of youth and volunteer workers are interviewing every young person between the ages of 14 to 25. At the same time, they are obtaining information on the possible employment for these young people in the area and in cooperation with the schools and other groups which touch youth activities, they are obtaining the picture of the aptitude and interests of youth at different age levels. The project is only partially completed but its value is twofold. It educates the community and the older people as well as serving the interests of youth.
I spoke in the school auditorium to about a thousand young people and then we started back to Elmira to see a resident center, also under NYA where some 45 boys are living and learning ground aviation. The boys showed us over their house and gave us tea. They live on a cooperative basis, the only employee being the cook. The shop where they work is wonderfully equipped and the project is sponsored and supported by the public school system. The boys looked in very good physical condition and were as fine a group of youngsters as you could see anywhere. This is the first resident center for the teaching of ground aviation which I have seen and I was much impressed, both by the type of boy and the really good training.
We returned to the hotel at 7:15 and though Dr. and Mrs. Christian are away, their daughters came to dine with us. By 9:00 o'clock Mrs. Morgenthau and I were quite ready to go to bed. We drove over the icy roads to Ithaca this morning and an interesting day has begun here.