JANUARY 14, 1943
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—In Arthurdale, West Virginia, yesterday, we had breakfast with the manager of the project and his wife in a little house on top of the hill overlooking the woods and below the valley dotted by project houses.
I think we often forget that these projects were all started at a time when thousands and thousands of people in this country not only were out of work, but had been out of work for three to five years in this particular area. Today all the mines are working and everyone is busy.
Nevertheless, no matter how many mistakes were made, it is somehow heartening to find that people who seemed to have lost all their initiative, who had gone through such hardships, whose children could always be spotted because they looked so thin and ill, have been able to come back.
There were times that people working with them despaired, because these projects were relief projects, never using skilled workmen but people who had to work for the government in order to live. For various reasons they were not always very efficient. Today, owing to the war, no one is out of work, but never again can they face the same low level they once reached.
When the war comes to an end, they will at least have their houses and their ground. The payments will be moderate, and we know that, somehow, our economy at the end of this war, must be so managed that thousands of people will not face the fate which fell upon them after the boom period which followed the last war.
Right after the breakfast, we drove over to Scotts Run to the community center near the mine which had a recent disaster. I talked with several women who lost their husbands. One woman, Mrs. Quinn, has reason to be very proud of her man, who was a foreman. He got out and then went back to save, if he could, the thirteen men who happened to turn toward the fire instead of away from it. He was caught by the fire and died. I hope there is some way of obtaining recognition for a civilian hero who dies for his fellow men.
Then we returned to the project, saw the remarakble NYA training center, which is training 92 girls and 60 younger boys for industry, and held a meeting of our committee.