MARCH 19, 1940
WASHINGTON, Monday—At last I have seen my first sign of spring. In our nicely protected garden back of the White House, crocuses are out. I walked out there yesterday to show the grounds to a visitor and there were the first little yellow flowers. The air, too, is soft and my fur scarf felt really too warm when I went out this morning. This has been a going away day, for two guests left at 8:30 and another one at a little after 11:00 o'clock.
The President is keeping his appointments, but still stays in the house. He refused to exert himself yesterday to the extent of seeing "Gone With The Wind," so that experince is still before him. I did, however, this time, see it from beginning to end. I think it is a beautiful picture as far as color, acting and characterizations are concerned, but the horror of the hospital scenes seems to me dreadful. What it must be to have insufficient supplies and no anesthetics, nothing which deadens human suffering. That could happen today and the thought of it is appalling. Just to die, never seemed to me so terrible, though one might have preferences as to the way in which one might prefer to do so, but to endure horrible physical pain when one knows that there are ways of alleviating it, seems so senseless and wasteful.
After the press conference this morning, I went with a group of Congressmen's wives, Mrs. Dorothy McAllister and Mrs. May Evans of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee, to visit my nearest public school. The District of Columbia has had two surveys in the past few years of the public school system. There is a plan now for a seven year building program which will eliminate the school I saw this morning, by consolidating it with two others into one really adequate building which can be run at a more reasonable cost.
In the meantime, the children in this building play in winter in a damp and fairly dark cellar room. Those who are given lunch, eat in the same type of room. Even the tiniest tots have to go down into the cellar to reach the toilets. There is no auditorium, no gymnasium and in spite of years of study, a modern curriculum has not yet been adopted. It looked to me as though the teachers here were doing all they could to make their old-fashioned and somewhat unsanitary surroundings attractive and interesting, but they were certainly laboring under difficulties.
We then went to visit the recreation department. They do not feel that they are doing an adequate job for the District of Columbia children, but thanks to the interest of Mr. Frederic Delano and other public spirited citizens, there is a coordination of effort here which has resulted in a good program, though there should be more of it.
One of the students chosen under the new cultural program for better understanding between South America and ourselves, Miss Esther Mathews, came to lunch today. She goes to Chile shortly and I think she will make good use of her time and be a good representative of our American student body.