NOVEMBER 13, 1939
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I forgot to mention on Friday that I came to New York City on Thursday evening to see our son, Jimmy, for a little while before he went back to the West Coast, and to continue doing a number of errands. Late Friday afternoon, I came up to Hyde Park for a quiet two days and a little exercise in the open air. I have enjoyed every minute of it and today I have been thinking over our whole two weeks trip.
One of the amusing things about travelling around the country is that people whom I know on paper, sometimes for months and years, suddenly appear and you find yourself knowing them as individuals for the first time. They rarely resemble the individuals you have pictured to yourself. I have been thinking over the many landscapes through which we travelled. On our way to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, it really looked Western. Some of the soil had a reddish tinge. The trees were smaller, more wind blown and showed a tendency to develop more on one side than the other. Here and there we saw some neatly painted white houses with good farm buildings, but also saw a great many unpainted ramshackle buildings with untidy yards.
When we were inspecting the shelterbelt project in Kansas, we passed through a Mennonite settlement. It was easy to see that these people are good farmers. Interesting too, were the men with their beards and the children coming home from school. The girls wore black sunbonnets and the boys straight, broad-brimmed, black hats. Several horse-drawn buggies, with comfortable elderly ladies in bonnets driving them, meandered along the roads and looked disapprovingly at us as we passed in automobiles, for Mennonites do not approve of "horseless carriages."
On Saturday, November 11th, the nationwide rollcall for the American Red Cross began and will continue through November 30th. Not since the World War has it seemed so important for us to contribute to the Red Cross. Its obligations to alleviate human suffering in many foreign countries are very heavy at the present time. It is true that, so far, the Red Cross has done its traditional work of helping every nation at war which asked for help, with supplies needed for the sick and wounded. In addition, however, until some permanent organization is set up for the relief of civilian populations, the Red Cross will find itself called upon to meet a great number of emergency situations which deal not only with refugee populations, but with people of their own homes who are hungry, cold or sick in these countries far away from us.
I hope that all of us will make it a point to set aside some small sum regularly every month for the Red Cross as long as war lasts throughout the world. No matter how small the sum, it will mean much in the aggregate and it will mean much for us, for we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we are contributing to the alleviation of human suffering.