JUNE 22, 1940
HYDE PARK, Friday —This morning I drove up along the Hudson River via the Parkway, where the planting of laurel is most beautiful at this season. The Parkway extension which now takes you just east of Poughkeepsie, has some beautiful views over wide valleys and in one place, a lovely view of the Catskill Mountains.
Yesterday was a very interesting day for me. I saw two very successful National Youth Administration projects in the early afternoon. The first one is giving training in radio work. I enjoyed the orchestras, bands and choruses at work. Many young people are being trained in the technical end which makes the programs possible. At the same time, they receive instruction as radio operators for ships and various other purposes, all part of our defense program. This is non-military training of use for war purposes and for daily living.
Then I went to a big workshop in Astoria, Long Island. It is one of the best shops I have ever seen in which training in many different kinds of work is being given. There is a machine shop, an upholstery shop, a sewing project and many other things. The suggestion is sometimes made that in giving boys and girls such training we are only adding to the number of unemployed in various trades.
To me, this does not seem to hold water. Skills are picked which will be useful in many ways, even in improving the conditions of the home. There is specialization in skills where there seems to be an opportunity for increase in employment. For the young, however, learning any skill is valuable, for it makes them adaptable to a variety of things.
We cannot let our young people grow up twiddling their thumbs, in order that they may not clog the labor market. The labor market is clogged because we have not learned to manage our civilization. I will grant that every project in NYA and WPA is a challenge to our intelligence, but that is no reason for deserting these problems and leaving men, women and young people with nothing to do.
I went to the World's Fair and met Col. Sommervell, Mrs. Florence Kerr and various other WPA state officials. I saw the WPA Building, which I think is more interesting this year than last. It shows how much useful work is being done all over this country by people on WPA jobs. These projects may be costing the taxpayers some money, but I doubt if they ever drew more good, solid returns from any investment for themselves or their communities than they have through this program.
I also visited the New York State Building and was delighted to see Mrs. Lehman, wife of the Governor of New York, as well as all the other New York State people assembled there. I think this building has perhaps as interesting exhibits as any of the state buildings and I would like to have had more time to see them.