SEPTEMBER 22, 1941
WASHINGTON, Sunday—We had an interesting evening on Friday. First we saw some short documentary films, and then two gentlemen, Mr. Charles L. Todd and Mr. Sonkin, who have been making recordings of interesting folk songs and dance music in the migratory camps on the West Coast for the Library of Congress, played some of their records.
One, a song by a boy of fourteen, was a gem, though he was covered with confusion and ran away when he heard it played! Many of the records, like the song written by a woman about her trip from Texas to the West, were heartrending, in spite of the fact that one could not help laughing at certain little twists of language and expression.
These recordings are going to be historically interesting, but the inspiring thing to me is that people can live through such hardships and still have music in their souls and the ability to express themselves hopefully. Mr. Todd told me that when they have a dance, or are happy, over the prospect of work or some small event in their daily lives, these people apparently seem to be able to enjoy themselves with complete forgetfulness of the past and the future. They have learned what so many of us do not learn—that the present is the only thing we really possess.
Last night I was reading a little volume, arranged for publication by Stanwood Cobb. It is called, "The Wisdom of Wu Ming Fu," and is a collection of his translated poems and sayings. The Chinese philosophy over the centuries, has come to the same conclusion as our migrants, and they would agree with Mr. Fu that "it should be our concern to make each present moment perfect."
Yesterday was a most beautiful day and, after a morning visit to my brother in the hospital, four of us went by car to Sugarloaf Mountain and basked in the sun, with a beautiful view spread out below us. After lunch, in the shade of some trees, with the rocks as our seats, we read aloud the preface to a short anthology called, "We Hold These Truths," compiled by Stuart Gerry Brown of Grinnell, Iowa.
This address impressed me, for I know two pretty good representatives of what American citizenship means, who are now in Washington and who have had close association with this same place in the past. This anthology is a collection of documents, written by our great men over the period of our whole history. Documents which all of us frequently want and should turn to, to clarify our own beliefs and convictions. It is good to have them in such compact form and I am grateful to Mr. Brown for his labors.