MARCH 16, 1940
HAMILTON, Ohio, Friday—Such a pleasant surprise as greeted me in Chicago! I had barely walked into the hotel, when the telephone rang, and it was our son, Jimmy, to tell me that he was in Chicago on business. He dined with us last night and breakfasted with us this morning, and I hope to see him again in New York City next week. Unexpected pleasures are always particularly nice and, because I thought he had gone back to California some time ago, this was a real joy.
I didn't waste much time yesterday afternoon after my arrival in Chicago. First of all, I went to listen to a broadcast which the Chicago Tribune Radio Station dedicated to civil liberties and to me. The Chicago WPA writers project wrote the script, and it was certainly both interestingly and dramatically done. Then I was presented with a portrait of myself, painted by Mrs. Margaret Johannsen, who began her painting at the age of fifty. I am afraid that I was a sad disappointment to her, for I had to tell her that I had no desire for portraits of myself and that I had refused over and over again to sit for one. I hope that she will able to find someone else to whom she can give this particular work of art.
There was a short reception for the members of the committee of the Chicago Civil Liberties Union, and then Mr. Thomason of the Chicago Daily Times drove me out to the small hospital on the lake where children with heart ailments are cared for. They have capacity for one hundred children. The doctor in charge, who is one of Chicago's leading pediatricians, is wrapped heart and soul in the work for these youngsters. If they are given proper care, they almost always get well. If not, they die. The average gain in weight for these little patients is a pound a week, and I think this is due to the fact that the management is extraordinarily good. The food is not only appetizing, but very carefully chosen. Each child gets a quart a milk of day and this is done in spite of a food cost which compares well with many institutions where the diet is not accomplishing such desirable results.
Children's institutions are always appealing. As I looked at these youngsters, I felt grateful that so many people in Chicago had been moved to give them a chance to live useful and happy lives. Somewhat sadly the doctor said to me:
"We can take a hundred, and we are the only institution caring for this type of case. There are approximately 10,000 children in Chicago needing this care."
Back at the hotel I had a visit from some acquaintances. Then Miss Frances Williams, executive secretary of the American Youth Congress, who is at present on a trip through the Middle West, came to see us. These youngsters work hard trying to build a worthwhile program for their local councils and I have a great respect for the unselfishness with which their work is done.