DECEMBER 11, 1940
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Yesterday was the first opportunity I have had to get the ladies of the Cabinet together. We had a very pleasant lunch on and discussed our winter obligations. It was generally felt that while there was no reason to do away with all social activities, there were very good reasons why we should curtail some of these functions. The objective is to gain more time for work which might be helpful, either in our country, or to some such democratic nations as we can still help in other parts of the world.
It was my first opportunity to greet Mrs. Stimson, Mrs. Knox, Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Wickard since their husbands have joined the President's Cabinet. They had all been seeing each other, I am sure, but I have been a gad-about this autumn and am only just settling into the swing of Washington life again.
In the afternoon I had my first musicale of the season. The East room was filled with guests and we enjoyed the pianist Mr. Mieczyslaw Munz, and the singing of Miss Virginia Lewis. Miss Lewis was discovered in Philadelphia a few years ago; a little colored, orphan girl who had been a domestic servant. WPA gave her her first chance to obtain some training for her voice. Kind friends have helped her. She sang a program of Italian, German and English songs and was well received and enjoyed by her entire audience.
In the evening, I went over to the Chamber of Commerce Building to attend a local housing meeting. The hall was very full, showing how much the interest in the question of housing has grown in this city. The interest today is not only in the effort to wipe out the slums, but in defense housing, for we realize that we cannot augment our workers in any line without at the same time increasing our capacity for housing them.
The same condition is confronting many other communities. It seems to me that the least we can do is to plan for the housing of people when we remove to areas already crowded, or to areas so remote there is no housing near the job for them or their families.
This morning, at Congressman Tolen's request, I appeared before the Congressional Committee studying the question of migratory workers. I listened with interest to Mrs. Thomas, a mother of six children, who testified on their travels during the past few years in search of work. Five of her children were there with her, and a finer family you could not ask to see.
It seems cruel that these children should not have the advantages so many more fortunate children can enjoy. I often wish that when we see young people who are unable to profit by their advantages, we could switch them over and give the chance to others who would undoubtedly use every opportunity to great profit.