DECEMBER 14, 1939
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—In our preparation for Christmas this year, I hope very much that we will take into consideration the fact that certain products of this country, which have had a market in Europe, are temporarily laboring under great difficulties because that market has been shut off. If we could feature, during the holiday season, a greater use of these particular products, we would learn to like them and go on using them throughout the year. For instance, the apples which are shipped from the states of Oregon, Virginia and many other places have had to find a home market this year. Drives have been made in various parts of the country to interest people in using more apples for cooking. I am sure that oranges and grapefruit are affected also, and now that there has been a change in the freight rate situation, we should be able to get these fruits throughout the country at more reasonable prices.
There are many other things which we grow in different parts of this country and which should become part of our daily diets, both for the sake of health and for the sake of helping our own growers.
The other day I was sent an extremely interesting letter from a woman, who after four years on WPA, with odd jobs of various kinds to fill in, finds that her family today is forced back on relief. She speaks of the humiliation which the procedure brings and the fact that the people involved lose "personal pride and self esteem sacred to the individual." She ends her letter with the following paragraphs:
"Looking at all these miserable, frustrated, unused people, we cannot help thinking that the difference between our plight and that of the European refugees is only one of degree.
"We, who are the disinherited, who are forced to become public charges in spite of every effort on our own part, conclude that the long-time tragedies of peace may be more devastating, if allowed to continue, than those of war. Whatever the cause of this state of being, until democratic society can find a dignified use for all the individuals who comprise it, there can be no peace."
I don't think there is any way in which we can save people from relief registration, but I do think that letters of this kind should remind us of the necessity of continuing to solve our own economic problems. There are people who do not want steady work even when given the opportunity, but in a really successful democracy, those who do want work should find work. The solution to this problem requires the cooperation of every group and every individual in every community, and none of us should close our eyes at night unless we feel we have given whatever we have to give towards the solving of these problems.
Miss Josephine Harreld, a young colored pianist, gave us a short program of music after dinner last night. She has power and a finished technique and plays with real feeling, which made every minute enjoyable to all of us.