APRIL 15, 1940
BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Sunday—The trip from Kansas City, Mo., to Fort Smith, Ark., on Friday was not through the apple blossom country which we had heard so much about, but partly in mining country with earth tossed up in heaps of gravel on which a few trees and shrubs had taken root here and there. Farming is going on in between the uplands, but the houses do not look very prosperous, many of them being entirely unpainted and more of them painted only in front.
The countryside did not, however, have the rows and rows of little company mining town houses. They may have been hidden from the train view, but I was glad not to see them for they give one a sense of complete dreariness.
At almost every station a few people, who had heard I was going through, had gathered and wanted to greet the President's wife. At Joplin, Mo., they brought a group from the crippled children's school, and the railroad officials told me they were particularly active in caring for these youngsters and sending them for treatment to Kansas City and St. Louis. In this work the Kansas City and Southern Railway cooperate, as do many other railroads, by carrying the patients free. At Sallisaw, Okla., near which there is a very old Indian school, a large group of Indians came to the train and presented me with a number of gifts.
We travelled on a very special train which makes the trip in record time and hits the curves at such speed that you have no desire to move around a great deal. If you do, you are apt to find yourself sitting down somewhat unexpectedly.
On this trip, I read a pamphlet by Mr. Louis Fisher on development of the Central European situation over the period of the past few years, and found it extremely interesting. His long years as a foreign war correspondent have given him an understanding of the history of various countries and an opportunity for personal observation of the men who are at present making history in the world. This gives what he writes an added significance.
It is universally true, I fear, that under the pressure of necessity, ideals and standards which have been built up through years of effort may be wiped out overnight. This is why I think it is important in studying peoples to look not only at specific occurrences in their history, but to get the trend of their behavior. We all fall below our best standards at times, but where nations are involved it is well to find out whether this means permanent changes in the people's character, or whether there is something inherent in some people which makes them fight back after temporary lapses from professed standards and again try to achieve the ideals which they have built up.