MAY 16, 1940
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I lunched yesterday with a group of people in Washington who are serving as a voluntary faculty in the Federal Workers School. This school is not as academic as it sounds, because, while there are many courses on such difficult subjects as our monetary system, they also have classes in dancing to lend a light and recreational touch. They serve to draw people together in social groups and are valuable. I wish I had time to attend some of these courses myself, for the faculty is one of the most interesting groups of people I have met in a long time.
I returned to the White House in time to receive some members of the Adult Education Classes in Philadelphia, who were here on a visit to their Capitol. Later, a large group of ladies attending the American Scientific Congress, were received. At 4:00 o'clock the Cabinet ladies and I gave our annual tea for the wives of the Representatives. At this tea, which is a leisurely affair, the North Carolina "Eastern Carolina Symphony Singers" sang for us. Governor Clyde Hoey has sponsored this group and they are on their first tour. Since the choir is chosen from small high school groups in North Carolina, what they are able to do is really remarkable. I could not help thinking what a gain it is for the young people to sing together and to have this opportunity to travel through parts of their country, which they might never see in any other way.
In the evening, Mrs. Melvyn Douglas and I left the White House at 7:00 o'clock to go to the National Press Club, where the dinner was held by the sponsoring group and attended by the delegates to the National Women's conference on Unemployment. The findings and recommendations of the jury were read by Mrs. Douglas and will be presented to Congress. It is extremely interesting that women, who perhaps are not much in sympathy with some of the demands of these unemployed women until they come face to face with them, have recommended practically everything which the women came down here to ask.
The Representatives and Senators who spoke were much impressed by the meal they were given. A small amount of stew and one prune for desert cost about five cents, about the amount available per person in the average home where they are living on a woman's WPA earnings of about $44 a month. I imagine the gentlemen were hungry, and yet every one of us is sufficiently well fed not really to feel any hardship from going without one meal. The important thing is to realize that a meal such as this continued day after day, month in and month out, makes for malnutrition which is even more serious for children than for adults.
I am catching up on mail this morning and going out to Madeira School, where the young ladies are to ask me questions, which I hope I shall be able to answer.