SEPTEMBER 20, 1939
CHICAGO, Tuesday —After a fairly long train trip, yesterday, we got off at Clarksburg, W. Va., to find a mild-mannered gentleman waiting for us. He murmured his name and that he had come to meet us and, as one photographer stopped us, he mildly said, "Truly, I am not responsible for this. We kept your arrival absolutely secret."
I assured him that we could cope with ease with the situation and we were soon out of town, driving through the familiar "West Virginia countryside, and our drive was very pleasant. The hills seem close to you here and the roads wind delightfully among them."
We passed first through a coal-mining section, more or less depressed, with bad housing and underfed children. Then, for a time, a rather fertile farming country. Later, some small oil and natural gas wells. Just before we reached Glenville, some badly eroded hillsides stood out in the landscape. They have been de-nuded of trees and are now being used as pastures or cornfields. But shortly there will be no soil on which anything can grow.
Strange that people will not realize that lack of soil conservation eventually means not only loss in land productivity but deterioration in human beings.
Our host proved gentle in word but not in thought, for he had plenty of convictions. Our talk ranged over a number of subjects and I could not refrain from asking him if he had seen "Good-Bye, Mr. Chips," for in many ways he reminded me of the charming English schoolmaster.
Glenville, where the State Teachers' College is situated, is a small town and the college must be the center of interest. The president and his wife are delightful and I wished I could have had a longer visit there. After the lecture we drove back to make our train and nearly missed it, because everyone took it for granted we must be going east instead of west.
The night seemed very short, and we were rather sleepy when it was time to make a change of trains in Cincinnati this morning. It was one of those changes in which there is not time enough to do anything, and yet which seem too long to be sitting around the station. We ate a leisurely breakfast and bought four magazines—only two of which I had already read.
We have another short stop-over in Chicago before we reach our destination—St. Paul, Minn.—tonight.
Having been in academic surroundings, I want to tell you of a little volume which your whole family may enjoy and find useful. I was given a curious, rather haphazard education. I studied French, German and Latin grammar. My English grammar was sadly neglected. My grandmother had a theory, I think, that you learned to talk by ear, and that association with people who spoke English correctly was more important than learning out of a book.
Therefore, "A Living Grammar" by Winifred Watson and Julius M. Nolte, with delightful illustrations by Eleanor Lewis, is a find for me and you may find it a pleasant companion.