MAY 17, 1943
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Friday night my daughter and I went off a little distance into the country with four very busy gentlemen. We stayed for dinner with them and left them all telling stories, and apparently relaxing sufficiently to shed the cares of the world from their shoulders for a brief time.
Yesterday morning I went over to do a recording for the Office of War Information. Then I talked to a gentleman who is writing a life of the President and, apparently, wishes to include not only his life, but information about many of the rest of us. Another appointment, then guests at luncheon, after which I tried to go to the benefit exhibition for Netherlands War Relief, but it was closed.
I had a quick view of the Jefferson portraits on exhibition at the National Gallery. They have been on loan since the dedication of the Jefferson Memorial and the exhibition closed today. As usual, I waited until the last minute before finding time to go down to see them. One very interesting portrait belongs to some old friends of ours, who had particularly told me about it, because it was lent anonymously.
There were a number of people to see in the afternoon, and I was especially pleased to have a call from the wife of the President of Ecuador and later from the President of Czechoslovakia, Mr. Benes. Last evening I went to the War Workers Canteen, which was held in the South Interior Building auditorium.
It is interesting to find that a number of coal mining companies feel that I have been unjust to the company stores. They have written me and say I do not realize how well off the miners are today. One man actually sent me figures of earnings. He tells me, for instance, that a coal loader worked full time (the six day week) in the month of February and earned $338.46, and in March $468.24.
He adds that a mining machine operator, during February earned $505.54, and in March $519.49. I am delighted to hear this, and I am sure that the bill at the company store is gradually being paid off. These stores kindly give credit in case of illness and even at times when the men cannot obtain work, or are absent from work for other justifiable or unjustifiable reasons.
I wonder if the same mines looked over their books for the last ten years would they find a different story of the earnings of the miners? Surely there would be no time-and-a-half for that sixth day a week, and surely there would be weeks when there was no work at all, or only a day or two now and then.
It is true, as I said in my former column, the companies during this time carried overhead charges and are now probably paying them off so I doubt if all they make today is looked upon as "velvet," and the miners' earnings probably are not either. All of this does not make the principle of the company store a good one, even if the men today are able to pay their bills. The whole principle of company stores and company houses is a bad one, and I hope someday we will get rid of them