FEBRUARY 22, 1943
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Saturday morning was most interesting. I left the house with Mr. Maury Maverick at 8:30 and caught the 9:00 o'clock train for Baltimore. We were joined on board by Mr. John Hall and Warden Lewis Lawes. The War Production Board is interested in what Federal Prisons can produce for the war effort. It is good to know that, evil as war may be, it can bring some people salvation, for it is salvation to be kept busy if you are in prison.
We went to the Baltimore prison and were met by a number of the board members. After a brief survey of the cell block and a trip through the mess hall, we undertook a real inspection of the prison industries. At one time the main industry was the making of tags for automobles. That had to be curtailed because of the use of essential metals, so only little tags are being made this year, but many other industries have been started.
The men are repairing shoes, making blue shirts for the Navy, long underpants, shell cases and furniture such as double-decker cots, chairs, desks and bedsprings. These last items necessitated the making of their own tools. The printing shop goes on and they do a good part of the state printing. In addition, of course, there are cooks and maintenance men, who, if they are allowed to enlist in the services, will find themselves immediately useful.
At another prison in the State of Maryland they told me that they are raising great quantities of foodstuffs. I understand that where neighboring farmers have had a shortage of man power and have, therefore, discontinued the cultivation of their land, they have been able to lease it and increase their own production. Farming is a very excellent occupation for people in prison, and I hope we shall encourage this kind of production everywhere we find it possible. They also can the food they raise, which will take them out of the market for canned goods.
This work is good for the prisoners and the Nation. Psychologically, nothing could be better than to give these men the feeling that they are doing something for the war effort. I have never seen a group which seemed to be working with more interest than the men we watched yesterday.
I returned in time to have my old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Miller lunch with me. Then I went to the wedding reception given by Secretary and Mrs. Wickard for their second daughter to be married this winter. Wartime makes the young people very anxious to start on their independent lives.
In the evening we went to see Helen Hayes in "Harriet." She is spendid, of course, and I was delighted to have this opportunity to see her and the play.