OCTOBER 26, 1939
MUNCIE, Ind., Wednesday—I spent from 1:45 until 4:30 at the Herald Tribune forum in New York City yesterday afternoon. The keynote speech was given by Dr. Conant of Harvard, and then there were a great many able, clever speakers, all pointing up the central theme, "The Challenge to Our Democracy." The speech which seemed to me the most sane and sensible for this particular period was made by Mr. John Lord O'Brian. He stressed the fact that in the World War there had been much hysteria and that in many ways we had found ourselves unprepared to meet the demands of the war situation, but stated that at present our laws and our administrative set-ups were quite capable of meeting our present situation. He felt we needed to remain calm and go about our daily business unafraid.
I was sorry to have to leave without hearing the concluding speakers, particularly Mrs. William Brown Meloney, but I was taking an evening train and had a guest waiting for me at the apartment, so I dashed back there and spent the next three hours very pleasantly before getting started on my lecture trip at 8:00 p.m.
Miss Thompson and I slept late this morning. When there is no real reason for rising early, it always gives me a rather luxurious feeling to be late for breakfast.
Rain greeted us in Muncie, Indiana. I am afraid I shall not see a great deal of this city, which was made famous as the original "Middletown," a book very widely read and which everyone with an interest in average American life must have found an interesting study.
After a short press conference we started on our mail and the necessary unpacking for the evening. Shortly, Mr. Sterling, of the NYA, appeared to show me some photographs and to tell me something of their work in this area. The NYA boys have done a great deal of construction work. The girls are doing largely clerical work in schools and libraries. They have a great many more boys than girls on their projects. NYA seems to have done a good job of interesting the communities in their youth, which is, after all, one of the best things that can come out of this work.
When we went down to luncheon, Mr. E. Connor, a regional supervisor on WPA, greeted me. While Miss Thompson and I ate our lunch, he brought four other WPA officials to sit around our table and talk to us. They have not yet started on their new program of workers education, which I talked over with Miss Kerr, Miss Hilda Smith and various other interested people, before I left Washington. I hope before long, however, a real workers service program will be under way. Adult education has suffered greatly from the eighteen months cut, but I gather that everyone concerned is proud of the projects as a whole and the way they have been run in this state.