MAY 25, 1940
WHEELING, W. Va., Friday—Yesterday began with a very pleasant breakfast on the porch at the Arthurdale Inn, which has a delightful view of the community center and some of the homesteads spread out below. Then I met the homesteaders' committee, after which a band led by a WPA instructor, played on the grass in front of the community center. We visited the craft shop which is now doing very good work and has sales for its pieces in many of the larger furniture stores in the East.
An NYA resident project has been started here, but it is not yet in full swing. There are some forty boys in a woodworking shop, who also cultivate their own gardens. The girls work in the school at a variety of jobs.
I am wondering if enough emphasis has been laid in these communities on the importance of developing the democratic processes in the government of the community. It is hard to sense this when one is only there for a short time, but I was so very conscious in the Farm Security Camps for migrant workers, of the scrupulous care which the managers exercised in developing self-government. I do not come across the same signs in these homesteads. This is such fertile ground for real lessons in democracy, that it would be a pity if we were not taking full advantage of our opportunities.
I went into the new little pottery kiln back of the school, which is used by the school children and adults in the community again under the instruction of a WPA teacher. They are not really very proficient as yet, though some of their pieces have a lovely glaze.
The janitor of the school does the nicest work of anybody in the community. He made a very delicate figure of a man holding his rifle against his knee and presented it to me for the President. He also gave me a lovely lamp he had made.
Following this interlude, a school meeting took place. Then I went to Morgantown for my broadcast and a greeting to the Queen of the Campuses, a charming young University of West Virginia girl. We returned for lunch and commencement exercises in Arthurdale. In the afternoon, we visited Scotts Run, where some measure of improvement can be seen in the work of the cooperative. There is more work in the mines too, which in itself will bring in cash and an increased standard of living.
Commencement at the University High School was a revelation in what may be worn this year by the well dressed young lady. The girls looked such a pretty picture in their light colored dresses and quite outshone the boys. Following their graduating exercises, I went to one of the fraternity houses on the campus for a few minutes, then a dinner at the Hotel Morgan and, finally, a dedication of a new high school auditorium. So ended yesterday. So far, I can record a delightful ride and hope that we may have a much quieter schedule.