JUNE 23, 1939
HYDE PARK, New York, Thursday—Yesterday afternoon, in my reading, I came across four most interesting plays, published by the Dramatists Play Service, Inc., primarily for use in schools. The series is called: "America In Action." The Roosevelt Memorial Association is cooperating with the Authors and Dramatists Guild of America, and the Dramatists' Play Service is bring out this series by well-known playwrights and offering them to the public on a non-royalty basis.
I read four of them and was particularly interested because they dealt with fundamentals which are as vital to America today as they were when our forefathers were founding the country. "Haven Of The Spirit" by Merrill Denison, which is the story of Roger Williams' defense of a Quaker woman who had been thrown out of the Massachusetts Colony because of her Quakerism, might well be dealing with our own problems, for the same spirit is rampant in the United States of today and Roger Williams' voice needs to be heard in our land.
"Seeing The Elephant," by Dan Totheroh, is perhaps a little less pertinent to the moment, for we are more familiar with the courage displayed by those who made the trip across the Continent to California in '49. Yet, the spirit of the mother in this play made me think immediately of the mother in "Grapes Of Wrath," so we have not left the "Forty-Niners" so very far behind us.
"Ship Forever Sailing" by Stanley Young, deals with the compact signed on board the "Mayflower," a bit of history which we do not think about enough. "We'd Never Be Happy Otherwise" by E.P. Conkle, is a defense of the freedom of the press in an era when it cost a man his life to print that in which he believed. Nothing as drastic as that will probably be demanded of any citizen today, and yet I have seen the day when a man had to choose between his beliefs and their expression and financial ruin.
I feel that to produce these plays in connection with the study of American history would be an extremely valuable way of pointing the moral of our past and reminding us that rights once won, have to be preserved by the same kind of watchfulness and care which our forefathers exercised.
I have not as yet said anything about the death of Miss Grace Abbott, but I feel that I want to pay a tribute to one of the great women of our day. Much of the success of the children's bureau in the Department of Labor has been due to her wisdom, tact and force of character. No one who knew her could help but admire and respect her. It is with sorrow we see pass from the stage a woman of this type, for it seems as though we have lost a definite strength which we could count on for use in certain types of battles.
Today is another glorious day. We need rain badly, but I can't help glorying in the sunshine even while I pray for rain. Mrs. Robert Baker, Mr. Louis Howe's daughter, and her young son arrived this morning to spend the night with me. A few other young people came in to lunch so we enjoyed a picnic on my porch and cooked in the outside fireplace.