APRIL 19, 1941
WILKES-BARRE, Pa., Friday—I have been doing so many things the last few days, that I keep remembering happenings which I forgot to tell you. Last Wednesday afternoon, in Washington, there was a meeting of the workers in the rural electrification program from all over the country. I had the pleasure of being with them for a few minutes and I mention it here because, from the beginning, this program has seemed to me to be of such general importance to the rural people of our nation.
Every time electricity is taken to some remote spot, it brings new opportunity to the farmer to lighten his labors. It allows him to accomplish more and, therefore, increases his buying power.
To the woman of the house it brings relief from backbreaking toil, a better standard in home life, more time to spend with the children, and less weariness at the end of the day. The men and women working in this program are fundamentally changing our life for the better.
Then, I forgot to tell you I was presented by Madame Espil, wife of the Ambassador from the Argentine, with a beautiful Argentine alligator skin bag, which I am now proudly carrying. These are on sale in many shops throughout the United States. Perhaps we will buy them instead of Argentine beef!
Last, but not least, there is an interesting exhibit in the art section of WPA under Mr. Cahill. Around the walls, you may see the story of every type of work done by this division. You will be surprised to learn into how many things WPA art workers have delved. They are meeting many needs in the defense program today, and many a recreation camp will be a pleasanter spot because of their work.
In Buffalo yesterday morning, I saw my first two airplane factories, greatly expanded since the effort for defense and aid to Britain began. Airplanes are rolling along the assembly line more rapidly than I had realized, but many things enter into their final completion and "take off."
One must be sure that engines, instruments, guns and ammunition are all produced with the same rapidity. This synchronizing does not as yet seem to be working perfectly. I was interested to see old men, skilled workers of many years experience, working side by side with young people who, in many cases, held their first jobs.
These factories are running schools to supplement the work already done by trade schools and NYA. They work three shifts and there has been a tremendous drop in both the WPA and relief rolls in Buffalo, New York.
The NYA quota there is a little higher than it was in October 1940, but that does not mean that the boys have not been getting jobs, because the turnover last month was greater than ever before. It simply means that NYA always has a waiting list of boys and girls who need training.