JUNE 28, 1939
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I started off bright and early this morning. In the first place I was much flattered to be asked to go to Beacon to see a head which Mr. Jo Davidson had just finished of Secretary Morgenthau. It is a remarkable thing to have in your hands the power to make a lump of clay come alive and, not only look like some one, but give the feel of the personality which lies behind the features.
From there I drove across the Mid-Hudson Bridge to meet Mr. Karl Hesley, the State Director of the NYA, and a number of other gentlemen, whom I had kept waiting for 25 minutes. I was deeply apologetic, but we made up the time on the trip to Woodstock, where we were going, so that I might lay the cornerstone for an NYA building. They had planned first to take me to a resident center where the boys are living temporarily, while they build their own workshop and sleeping quarters for this new resident project. The City of Kingston has donated the land, about 40 acres, and it will be an ideal place for teaching a variety of skills. The community is very much interested and I can imagine no more wonderful place for these boys to be, for all around them are people who are experts in some art or craft who, at the same time, have made a study of a way of life which should be helpful to these young people.
I was pleased to find how much interest the Mayor of Kingston took in the NYA projects. He invited me to see the NYA work center in Kingston, where young people have been doing over school and park furniture. The project also seems to have won the interest of the community and sometime I hope to have time to see it. After the ceremony was over at the new building, we went to the resident center of a farm beyond Woodstock and the boys showed me through with great pride. They invited me to drive over in their station wagon and I trusted my car to one of them for the trip, for I was glad of the opportunity to see a little more of the boys, themselves.
Now I must tell you that I have just finished a book which is an unforgetable experience in reading. "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, both repels and attracts you. The horrors of the picture, so well drawn, make you dread sometimes to begin the next chapter, and yet you cannot lay the book down or even skip a page. Somewhere I saw the criticism that this book was anti-religious, but somehow I cannot imagine thinking of "Ma" without, at the same time, thinking of the love "that passeth all understanding."
The book is coarse in spots, but life is coarse in spots, and story is very beautiful in spots just as life is. We do not dwell upon man's lower nature any more than we have to in life, but we know it exists and we pass over it charitably and are surprised how much there is of fineness that comes out of the baser clay. Even from life's sorrows some good must come. What could be a better illustration than the closing chapter of this book?