JANUARY 16, 1942
NEW YORK, Thursday—Yesterday evening, I attended a dinner given by Dr. Louise Stanley, of the Bureau of Home Economics in the Department of Agriculture, for the members of the conference on extension services. This conference is a yearly event and people come to it from many states, last night some of them came from Wyoming and many Midwestern States.
Miss McGeachy, of the British Embassy, spoke on some of the problems confronting rural women in England. I asked her to tell about her plan for rationing clothes, since I was sure that these were the people who would really be able to appreciate the ingenuity which turns candlewick bedspreads into fashionable evening coats.
Of course, their objective in rationing clothes was to put more workers into defense industries and fewer into producing consumer goods, and to preserve certain materials for vital war needs.
We may find ourselves doing the same thing. Miss McGeachy's remark, that it was only a hardship on people who had no margin of supplies in their homes, reminded me of something said by an Englishwoman, who came to see me a few days ago. Extra coupons, she said, were given to people who were bombed out or lost all their possessions in a fire.
However, even with extra coupons they could not hope to supply themselves with an adequate amount of clothing. One pair of shoes, two dresses, three pairs of stockings, and one set of underclothes is all the usual coupon will buy for about a year. Men are worse off, because their clothes are sold according to weight and weigh more than womens.'
I always feel that rural people are better prepared to meet these adjustments than urban people, because in cities it is easier to buy and very little thought is given to making up new materials or making over old garments at home, a practice which still prevails in many country families.
I spent an hour and a half at the Office of Civilian Defense this morning and then started for New York City, travelling by train so as to have four uninterrupted hours for work. There are so many requests in my mail for a few words to go to various bulletins on the subject of defense, and I find it takes longer to dictate when the telephone rings at frequent intervals and people are dropping in for a few words with me.
Four hours of time, absolutely uninterrupted except for a glass of milk and a sandwich for lunch, is a Heaven sent period of quiet. It is really surprising what can be dictated. Miss Thompson says she has at least eight hours of work as a result.