OCTOBER 19, 1943
WASHINGTON, Monday—Yesterday was a quiet day. For several hours I went through my Christmas closet to find out what I have accumulated during the year and what I must buy before Christmas appears on the horizon.
It is not the simple thing it used to be, when you found out what people wanted and tried to fulfill their wishes as far as your pocketbook allowed. Now I feel that only useful things, which are needed, should be bought. But in that category are included the things which satisfy the longing we all have today for beauty in our surroundings.
Artists' work, much of which will interpret this period to the people of the future, craft work of all kinds, anything that does not need strategic materials and which will give pleasure and relaxation through its beauty is, from my point of view, a vital necessity, when so many people suffer from stress of spirit as well as body.
Someone asked me the other day what I felt about young people and their enjoyments. Should they be allowed to dance and to go to parties, when all over the world other young people are fighting and suffering and sometimes dying?
These same young people who are fighting all over the world crave for themselves, wherever they may be, a good time in any free time that is theirs. I have seen them dancing in northern Australia before leaving for the battle zone at two in the morning. I think they would feel, if youngsters at home were kept from a normal existence, that the very thing for which they are fighting was being lost.
Parties can be just as much fun when they are simple parties. Everyone will understand at a time like this that essential foods are rationed, that money must not be wasted, but getting together and having fun is almost essential to carrying on a long war and remaining a sane people.
There would be a far greater let-down in production, people would do less good work in meeting the stresses of their own homes and in the volunteer jobs which they undertake, if both young and old, were not allowed a reasonable amount of relaxation. Today it has to be planned more carefully than in the past, but it still should be a part of our lives.
Some of my guests at luncheon yesterday discovered that they were working in the same building and for the same department, but unless they happened to meet here, they probably would have remained strangers indefinitely. This can only happen in places which become metropolitan centers. It marks the transition in Washington from the almost villagelike existence of thirty years ago, to the present completely metropolitan atmosphere.