JANUARY 29, 1941
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—It was a busy afternoon in New Haven, Conn., yesterday, but a very pleasant one. On arrival, I was met by Mrs. Wolfers, whose husband is head of Pierson College, and a committee from the freshman forum. Mrs. Wolfers was a most solicitous hostess and gave me a cup of tea and a chance to dress before we received some guests between 5:00 and 6:00 o'clock.
One of the guests, Miss Marian Whitney, was one of Mlle. Souvestre's pupils, just as I was. We have always had a mutual interest in the past, though she attended the school in France and I attended it later in England. I was particularly touched by the fact that Miss Whitney wore a pin, which Mlle. Souvestre left her in her will, in order that I might see it and be carried back to the days when Mlle. Souvestre wore it.
I think mutual devotion draws people closely together, even when they know each other rather slightly. I always feel as though Miss Whitney were really a friend, simply because we share a devotion to Mlle. Souvestre and cherish her memory.
I had dinner with the committee in charge of the freshman forum and the professor at the head of Jonathan Edwards College, Mr. Robert D. French. Then we proceeded to the forum meeting where I spoke for half an hour and answered questions for nearly an hour. Later, some of the boys came back to Mr. and Mrs. Wolfers' house and we talked and were fed and warmed. I, at least, was much encouraged and reassured by this contact with youth in a serious mood.
The young people in charge of the forum did everything possible to plan the meeting well and make it a pleasant and easy occasion for me. Never have I known more thoughtful, kindly hospitality than that which surrounded me in Professor and Mrs. Wolfers' charming home.
On the way up in the train I read a little book called, "My Sister and I.," by Dirk van der Heide. It is a diary of a Dutch boy refugee, a very simply told story of the days when Holland was taken over by the Germans; of the effect of constant bombing, of the sights on the road as they made their impression on the consciousness of a young boy, who tried very hard to be manly and strong and to record his little sister's weaknesses with sympathetic understanding.
His mother's death, the flight to England, and, finally, his trip to America, are all spoken of with restraint. But the final revelation of their effect on him comes when the doctor over here thinks he is a little nervous. The significance of this little book lies largely in what it reveals to us on the condition of children all over Europe. Can we never do away with such strains for our children?
This afternoon Mr. Jerome Davis is coming to us to talk about how the YMCA helps to build bridges for friendship between nations even in war time through its contact with prisoners in camps in Canada and abroad. It may seem a little thing, but I feel sure that we should not neglect even the smallest thing which can make for kindlier feeling.