OCTOBER 19, 1939
NEW YORK, Wednesday—We had a picnic last night at the cottage for six Vassar seniors and a few "elders." They cooked my steaks on the porch for me and shivered in the cold wind while I sat by the fire inside and talked. Afterwards we all settled around it to talk. It was interesting to find that every one of these girls had a definite thing she wanted to do and while in college prepared to meet the future.
Mr. David Gray, who is staying with us, brought up his point of view on education: namely, that disciplining the mind, whether you do it through mathematics or Latin and Greek, is the main object of education. You are never sure you are learning the particular thing you need later on, therefore you can only train to be a good instrument useful in whatever situation you may find yourself. Young and old agreed that perhaps two years was long enough for preparation of a general type in college, and then if one had any special field of interest, one might concentrate on that.
We all started out bright and early this morning because I woke at 6:30 and decided that I could not let two of my guests start on a long drive without any breakfast, though they had insisted they wished to do so. It seemed too cold and cheerless and, as long as I was awake, I roused everybody else and we all sat down together at breakfast before seven.
The Vassar girls made quite an impression for even at that early hour David Gray remarked to me: "That was a fine group of girls who were here last night."
The Grays left for their day's drive and, at a little after 8:00, Miss Thompson and I took the train for New York City. I finished buying my winter clothes, though I haven't yet finished the fittings, and I made a dent in Christmas shopping which, however, is far from complete. Then I met two friends at the Cosmopolitan Club for lunch and we talked hard of the morning's news. It isn't very cheerful, this habit of always talking about the war, and yet I suppose it is inevitable.
We were all interested in Mr. Walter Lippmann's column of a few days ago and in Dorothy Thompson's column today. She sensed in Col. Lindbergh's speech a sympathy with Nazi ideals which I thought existed but could not bring myself to believe was really there.