December 13, 1941
EN ROUTE FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO PORTLAND, Ore.—We are on the train this morning, going up through the mountains of Oregon. Much of this country was settled by New Englanders, and the rushing streams which look as though trout and salmon would be plentiful in them, remind one of Maine rivers, though the mountains are so much higher.
I wish I could say that wherever I see magnificent trees cut down, I could also see plantations of new trees, but I have not noticed that as yet. One important lesson we still must learn is that we cannot ask anything which comes from our soil and not return something to the soil for the use of generations to come.
I went straight to a meeting of the San Francisco metropolitan area defense councils yesterday morning. Mayor LaGuardia had held a meeting the day before with the police and fire chiefs and had evidently given them much information. The fire chief in San Fransisco is no longer young and he is very much upset because the federal government has not as yet provided him with all the machines he thinks he needs. I hope for the safety of San Francisco that he will use his ingenuity to achieve results that must be achieved in any area. This is a lesson which we are going to learn, men and women alike, in the next few months, because we are often going to find we cannot have what we want, but nevertheless things must be done.
The spirit of officials and people in general seems to be resolute and everyone has awakened from a period of apathy to a period of action.
I thought the best suggestion made at this particular meeting was offered by the head of the labor council who is also a state senator. He suggested that during this period, the local defense council meet every morning at nine o'clock, and the other defense councils included in the metropolitan area, come in at least two or three times a week. This is surely the most rapid way of coordinating all their activities and making them useful to each other.
I met with the federal council of all the federal agencies in the area at lunch, attended the opening of the volunteer bureau under the San Francisco defense council and visited the Red Cross headquarters. The Red Cross units on this coast have had training in meeting disasters caused by earthquakes and are perhaps for that reason better prepared to meet the present situation.