FEBRUARY 22, 1944
WASHINGTON, Monday—On Friday night Mr. Joe E. Brown dined with us. He has probably made the most complete tour of the fighting forces of any entertainer. I know of no one who has met the great sorrow of losing his son more gallantly, and I think his fine spirit is one of the reasons for his great popularity with the boys. A heavy heart must have been hidden often while he made the boys laugh—but he made them laugh, and I am quite sure that while doing so he lightened his own burden. The President and I were very happy to have him here and to hear about his trips.
Yesterday I went to the National Symphony concert, and for the first time I heard Symphony Number One by Robert E. Ward. This young composer is now in the Army, and I hope that like many other musicians, he is finding some important work to do there. I also enjoyed the American Concertette number by Morton Gould, which was new to me. There were many servicemen in the audience, and one can understand why people like Mr. Edwin McArthur tell you they always find talent in any group they appear before in Army war areas. The younger men of talent are now in the Army or Navy, so that is where you find them.
After the concert, we joined the President at Blair House, which he was going over for the first time. The State Department uses this beautiful old and historic house to entertain important guests when they leave the White House, and to house members of their party whom we cannot take in. You would not want a more delightful atmosphere, or greater comfort and distinction in your surroundings.
In the evening at dinner, the young people enjoyed a movie called "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek." I only stayed for a little while because my desk was piled high with mail, so I missed the most amusing part of it.
Today I gave another luncheon. This morning I was presented with the first book of "Clipper Air Cheques" to be sold by the Pan American Airways System. This will be a very useful service initiated by Pan American Airways, as it will obviate the need of carrying cash and yet make it possible for the traveller to get what money he needs in any of the areas that the company serves.
I have another appeal from an acquaintance of mine who works at night as a helper in the hospitals of a big city. I have read articles about this service and I know that it has been started in a number of cities. Businessmen, from top executives down, who work hard at their desks during the day, give their time in the late afternoons and evenings to alleviate the shortage of nurses by doing disagreeable work at some hospital. They clean, carry trays, and do any tasks which untrained people can do. This is a most unselfish kind of work, and I am sure that when the need is known, there will be more people doing it then there are at present.