JUNE 6, 1944
WASHINGTON, Monday—I spent a great deal of time at the Beltsville Agricultural Experimental Station yesterday, a few miles outside of Washington. I always like to go to this section of the Department of Agriculture, because while I am not a farmer, and have very little time at home for experiments even as a gardener, still I get a great deal of interest from seeing the experiments which the government is carrying out.
We walked along a bank and saw all the different kinds of grasses which are being tried out for holding road banks or river banks. One particular kind, which should grow in our climate, was a great discovery. I also found a kind of grass that will grow in our Dutchess County climate in the shade, something I have long been searching for and which I shall try out.
Then we visited the experimental strawberry bed. A few of the varieties were named, but most of them were merely numbers, since they were the product of experiments which will cross some varieties to change their colors or taste, and to make them stand up better under transportation to market. I discovered that there are two ways of looking at these experiments. You may grow as a business—for the market, or you may just grow to provide yourself and your neighbors with fruit, either for eating right out of the garden or for canning. One of the berries which tasted best, I was told, would be of very little use on the market because of its color, but I may try planting some of these berries myself next year.
I don't think there is any business in the world which is as much of a gamble as the business of farming. On the other hand, there is no business which is more rewarding, if you want to put study and experiment and hard work in it and if you love country life. If I am ever going to do much as a gardener, I will have to begin soon, so I imagine I never will. I hope, however, I shall have a chance to watch some young people really use some land in the way I would like to try to use it if I had the opportunity.
In the late afternoon I visited the Bethesda, Md. USO, where men from the Naval Hospital and visiting servicemen were being served a coffee, waffles and sausage supper by the men of the neighborhood. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
In the evening I saw the film which Mr. Julian Bryan has made for the YMCA. I hope it will not only be shown here but also in many parts of the world, during their centennial celebration. It ought to give many people satisfaction to realize that, from such small beginnings, a good idea may grow to be an influence all over the world. We need the "Y's," both for young men and young women, as much today as in 1844. I was reminded of this when I talked to a very attractive Chinese woman, Miss Tsai Kwei, national secretary of the YWCA of China, who came with Miss Ruth F. Woodsmall, general secretary of the world's YWCA, to talk about their work.