NOVEMBER 5, 1942
LONDON—On Monday night Mrs. Leonard Elmhirst and our Ambassador dined with us, and I was happy that my son, Elliott, could come up again for the night. We had a very pleasant evening and I, for one, was greatly surprised to find how late it was when finally Elliott and I went to bed! I had to get some mail signed on Tuesday morning before breakfast, so the papers got a rather cursory reading as we had to leave the apartment at nine o'clock.
Our first visit was to one of the day nurseries run by the government. Here were about sixty children whose mothers were industrially employed. They are brought in every morning between half past seven and half past eight o'clock. The women have to go to work because in the majority of cases their husbands are in the services and they need the money and incidentally the government needs their work.
Everything was very simple but well arranged. The children are given all their meals and cared for during the entire day and the problems seem to me to be very much the same as at home. The only complication is the necessity of having ration books in order to obtain some of the food for the children. Two little twins presented me with a red, white and blue bouquet.
It seems that the government is only gradually able to get women to leave their children in these day nurseries. The numbers are increasing steadily, but for a time there was great suspicion on the part of the mothers who thought that their children were going to be taken away from their influence and preferred to leave the child with a neighbor if a neighbor could be found. Now there are no longer any neighbors and an isolation ward exists in every nursery where children having a cold are kept. If any sign of a rash appears they are sent to a contagious hospital. This obviates the necessity of keeping a child who is ill in the home except during the night period if it is well enough to go home.
The second nursery we visited was another type, conducted by the Women's Voluntary Services. For two days, it accepts children who are going to be evacuated from the city to the country. They get bathed, their hair is washed, and they are outfitted with whatever clothes they need. There are volunteers also who take them to their destinations in the country, by car or by train. They even have a baby bus, so arranged that the children are strapped in, having a thermos bottle of warm milk for refreshment, and windows at just the right height for them to look out on their way to their destination. The children are all very good. The poor little things—I suppose so much has happened to them that nothing surprises them any more. Usually these children are in some private house with large gardens where the children thrive, but I fear the complication of returning to London's slums afterwards will be great for both mother and child, as the latter will undoubtedly be very unhappy.