SEPTEMBER 29, 1939
NEW YORK, Thursday—We drove over from Wilmington, Del., to Reading, Pa., yesterday afternoon, and because it was very foggy the drive took us longer than we had expected. It is pretty country and I love the old stone farmhouses, whitewashed and looking so spic and span.
It was too dark really to see Reading when we arrived, but we made a stop at a hospital run by a group of Catholic Sisters, to see a World War veteran who seems to have made his long illness not only bearable to himself, but of value to many other people. All he can do is to use his eyes and his voice, but he sells postcards at Christmas and makes money in various other ways to build up a fund from which he helps fellow sufferers.
When I went in, three young men were calling on him and he told me they were members of a boys' club in which he was interested. They probably contribute much to the pleasure of his existence, but I couldn't help thinking that this man was furnishing all of us with a valuable lesson in the way to take whatever happens to us in this world and turn it to some advantage.
The fog, and this visit, made us rather late in reaching the hotel and the press conference and photographers were somewhat hurried, as well as our dinner and our dressing. We were ready, however, in time for the lecture, and I think the time has come for me gratefully to acknowledge the fact that people in this country are most considerate of their speakers! Years ago, it seems to me, there was considerably more moving about in halls during speeches, which made it difficult for the speaker. Probably the installation of the kind of public address system which greets one on practically every platform, makes it possible for the whole audience to hear any speaker. It is no strain, even for a woman, to talk, as it usually works better if you keep your voice on its natural pitch. This is to me a great relief!
Even the photographers are kind and when I suggest that flashing bulbs after the first few minutes are a little disconcerting to the audience, they are most considerate. I always remember Ruth Bryan Rohde's story of how a kitten playing on her stage, on one occasion, attracted all the attention from what she was saying. Flashing bulbs can have much the same effect.
After the lecture, there was only one question sent up from the audience, so we got off early enough to reach Harrisburg by midnight and get a fairly good night's sleep on the way to New York City.
Arrived this morning, several people greeted me at our apartment and the telephone has been ringing more or less steadily.
Now I am off to see an art exhibit, meet my aunt, Mrs. David Gray, and do a number of other things on the spur of the moment, which I will tell you about tomorrow.