MARCH 23, 1944
CARACAS, Venezuela, Wednesday—Back in the mountains of British Guiana are flat plateaus where the hardy rancher can build himself a home and in 20 years, so Major Art Williams told me, he can be secure enough financially to send his boys and girls away to school. Men and women must work hard, however, and no weakling could succeed. Spaniards, Scotchmen, Americans from Texas, and various other pioneers are today ranching successfully, and their stories seemed like those written about our own early pioneers.
The officers at Atkinson Field gave me a most interesting bag made by a Mr. Melville, one of the ranchers, who is a friend of our guide, Major Art Williams. He killed a jaguar and a deer, and he dressed the skins to make this very unusual and beautiful bag.
Major Art Williams also flew us over the old Dutch seat of government, where the diamond shaped fort and old Dutch Government House stand, and he pointed out forests of greenheart wood which will not float but must be loaded on barges for transport.
At 5 o'clock we landed at the U.S. naval base. Here we went directly to mess with the enlisted men. The boy next to me came from Washington, D.C., and I have promised to tell his wife how he is when I get home. Then there was a boy from Seattle, one from Minneapolis, one from New York and one from Arkansas. I had a chance to talk to a number of the boys and some of the girls brought out for a dance by the USO Later we went to the movies with them all, and saw a gangster film which I am sure took their minds from the war. I was breathless when it was over.
Then we went to the Naval hospital, where again they had very few patients. This is evidently a healthy spot. It is a tribute to the work done by "malaria control" and clearing the jungle around the bases. Finally we went back to the dance at the mess hall, and spent an hour or more talking to various boys as they gathered around.
It was well after midnight when we got to bed, and we had to take off the following morning with Major Art Williams at 7:30. Back at Atkinson Field, we changed to a bigger plane and left for La Guaira. We were met on arrival by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senora Parra Perez and our Ambassador and Mrs. Corrigan. I drove with Foreign Minister and Senora Parra Perez to Caracas.
It is a wonderful road, winding up into mountains giving view after view of sea and mountains below and above. After arriving in the city, we went immediately to the Pantheon, and I laid a wreath on Simon Bolivar's tomb. This is a dignified and beautiful building worthy of the great liberator who lies surrounded by monuments of other Venezualan patriots.
The older part of the city through which we passed is interesting, with some lovely squares and public buildings. Many people live in the suburbs of the city where houses are surrounded by beautiful gardens. We spent the night at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Phelps, which is charming in every way.