OCTOBER 9, 1942
NEW YORK, Thursday—In addition to the two books of which I told you yesterday, I want to mention a novel called, "The Stranger," by Lillian Bos Ross. A friend of hers, who is also a friend of mine, sent it to me. With it was a note from the author, from which I want to quote a few lines:
"We Americans inherit stout boot straps, can pull ourselves up to victory. I was a homesteader's child, seventeen trail miles from the nearest log school. I didn't get to school, but I never gave up the idea that some day I would write books. This first book is my personal victory, and in troubled times, any victory is good."
The story is laid in the very early California days and deals with the people who made good in the mountainous country of the Big Sur along that coast. It is coarse in spots, sometimes the attitude of the man towards his woman is almost unbelievable. Nevertheless, as a novel and as a character study, it holds your interest and carries a thread of inspiration all through it, which should be good for us in these days.
My trip back across the continent was pleasant. An attractive woman sat in the seat next to me. She told me her boys were both off to the war and she had begun concert singing again. Some years ago she thought her voice was lost, but now it has suddenly come back and she is taking lessons and hopes to have a recital in New York City before long. I could not help thinking what a blessing it was that Providence had given her this work to do, just as her boys were leaving her.
As I think over my short trip, the thing which stays with me is the quality of courage of the men who can fight an enemy and then fight weeks of illness and weakness afterwards, and still smile.
Secondly, I was impressed by the sudden recognition of the importance of women. I hardly saw a man who did not speak to me about the need for women at work in production. I still feel that women owe, first of all, a duty to their families. If they can so arrange their lives as to add an eight-hour job in a factory, then they should, and we should take our hats off to them.
In large part, it will have to be younger women who do this. Their children will be in the very young and adolescent groups, a serious responsibility for the communities. Community services for them must be organized so that the women will not be overworked and the children will be cared for. But, more of this tomorrow.