AUGUST 9, 1939
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I had a most interesting time yesterday afternoon and evening talking with a woman who has just motored far and wide throughout this country. She started in Seattle, Wash., covered the West Coast pretty thoroughly and then crisscrossed up and down, reaching up to Minneapolis, Minn., down to Knoxville, Tenn., and Florence, Alabama.
I was interested in her impressions of the physical change brought about in the country during the past few years. Far and wide, over this country, I have said that for generations to come, there would be people using the things created by WPA workers during this period of depression. The sad part of it is that, of course, few people will realize who built the schools, or the parks, or the playgrounds or the recreation centers.
Young people who have worked in NYA, boys who have worked on the CCC programs, saving our soil and improving our forests, men who have worked on WPA, and women too, will get little credit or thanks for the things which have come to be accepted as part of the landscape. These things would never have been done if it had not been for this period of depression and the necessity of putting people to work for the Government. This woman thinks an immense physical improvement has been made and a greatly added interest in government has begun to take hold on the people. This is the greatest gain which can be made in a democracy.
The President arrived this morning and looks far less tired than I expected. I think he is so pleased over having signed all the bills which were ready for his signature before he left Washington, that he has a feeling of really beginning a holiday, even though in the course of the next day or so some two hundred or more bills will be coming up here to be decided upon.
When he told me over the telephone that he was going to keep open house for the members of Congress who wished to come and say goodbye to him, I was rude enough to snicker, for it seemed to me that Congress had shown such a desire to leave Washington, that it certainly would not remain long enough for any such amenities as saying goodbye. However, I was wrong, for he says a great many of them came in before leaving.
As I look over the last few weeks, I begin to think that some of the press is correct in thinking that the Republican minority with 20 to 25 percent of the minority Democrats are going to stand out primarily for their sporting disposition. These two minorities, which constitutte a majority, have made two bets with the public. One is that there will be no war in Europe until they return in January. If they lose, it might be rather serious, for little influence could be brought to bear by the Executive to try to avert war.
The other bet is with business. One of the papers carried a very interesting editorial a few days ago in it said that this group in Congress had challenged business, but I think it is more accurate to say that they have placed a bet. By next spring business will put three million men to work or the bet will be lost. Let's hope they win both bets and let's wish them all, majority and minorities, a happy holiday.