MARCH 15, 1944
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Tuesday—Our first morning in Puerto Rico started with a visit to the Red Cross. The center here is very active. It runs an information center in a busy part of town where boys can get information of any kind and a snack with a cup of coffee. The regular chapter house where the offices are is a very busy place because those in charge take care of the soldiers' family cases, and these are increasing rapidly as Puerto Rican soldiers leave the island. Allotments come through slowly both here and in the Virgin Islands. The Red Cross has had to come to the rescue of many families.
We also visited the production center where volunteers have been busily at work and the shelves are well filled, even though they are sending out a great many things. Emergency supplies are on hand in case they should be called upon suddenly. They also have a mobile canteen which can be turned into an ambulance if necessary, and can take two or three stretcher cases. They are in the midst of their money raising, and the quota is large for Puerto Rico, so they asked me to speak on the radio for them. I did so.
The rest of that morning was devoted to visiting Navy installations. I am afraid you will begin to tire if I tell you of all the barracks, mess halls and hospitals I go through. You can take it for granted that in each military area, I visit all of these things and in addition all the recreational facilities and the post exchanges.
I was particularly glad to see Mr. Adrian Dornbush, who has been setting up a laboratory of design here for the Puerto Rican Industrial Association. The island needs industrial development if it is ever to have a better standard of living, and this is one of the ways in which it may be achieved.
The Army and Navy photographers, as well as the press photographers, have been quite busy on this trip, and I was enormously amused at seeing young Charles Eggert of the Navy suddenly dive down for his extra flash bulbs, which he kept in his sock. The Navy uniform does not have any convenient pockets for photographers. I have watched him ever since with the greatest amusement. He has now entered into the joke, and reminds me that one of the things which will make me remember Puerto Rico is the peculiar way in which Navy photographers carry their flash bulbs!
It is evident that there are still many problems in the civilian life of Puerto Rico which have not been ironed out. I asked Governor Tugwell about the food supply of the island. He explained the difficult time they had here, as on all the other islands, when the submarine sinkings were serious. But now they are really better off, he said.
Nevertheless the cost of living here, as on the other islands, has gone far beyond the rise in the cost of living in the continental United States. People here can be grateful for the fact that the military activities on the island have given them work so far.