FEBRUARY 2, 1943
WASHINGTON, Monday—I had a letter the other day enclosing some clippings from a paper in a city, which has become tremendously overcrowded because of war activities. The clippings urged that women whose husbands are in training in that neighborhood should remain at home as a patriotic duty and not attempt to be with them while they are still in this country.
The letter accompanying these clippings stated that when a man was in training, the probability was that he would soon be ordered out of the country and that, if it was possible, it seemed only right that his wife and children, if he had any, should be near him. What did I think was the right procedure to follow?
It is a difficult question, because I do know that in many places, the Travellers Aid Society and all the local groups are attempting to find places for strangers to live and to tide them over until they have found a place. Every such agency is overburdened.
When a city becomes overcrowded, it is not just the lack of housing which is felt by all the residents. It is harder to get laundry work done and to buy food, transportation facilities are overtaxed, schools are overcrowded, places of entertainment are constantly filled to the limit. For the people who regularly live in that city, it is a difficult and often a disagreeable situation.
This is enhanced if the relatives and friends of the men in training require much assistance and, in addition, complain of the hardships which they have to endure. Yet, when all is said and done, if the man is going to leave this country on foreign service, and if his wife and children are willing to try to be with him until the last minute, I think everything should be done to make it possible.
It will require self-restraint on the part of the visitors, but all of us are citizens of a great country which is at war and these hardships are part of the war. Therefore, I think we must try to approach the situation with goodwill on both sides.
Some of my saddest letters come from the young newly marrieds, who have no children and who know when the man goes off, they must go back to a job so that they will not find the hours dragging. Every minute that they can have with the man of their choice is like the pearl of very great price hidden in the oyster, because it is surrounded by so much that is ugly and hard to face.