JULY 21, 1944
EN ROUTE, Thursday—An official trip has taken me over various parts of the United States during the past few days. The country that we passed through first was, on the whole, very green and well cultivated. The farms were good farms, if not quite as large as some farther west.
One change which we noticed from the train, was the personnel in the railroad yards. There were many women in slacks, and they were not, as a rule, very young women. Middle-aged women, in ever increasing numbers, seem to be working in railroad yards and stations. I was surprised so few women were in the fields, but then I realized that, for the most part, I had also seen rather few men in the fields. Some of the grain was harvested and the corn was only half grown. I looked at the fields and wondered at how little manual labor had to be done at certain times during the year!
In towns and villages, as far as one can tell, the people look well dressed and well fed. There are few cars on country roads, but more than last year on the village and town streets. I think this nation is seriously at work, and that out of every family, all those who can work are doing something which brings in some cash at the present time.
I kept thinking what I would want to do the very first thing after the war is over. As I look at the American scene, I think it would be to further new housing. Naturally, houses near the railroad yards and railroad tracks are poor houses, but even as you look down the streets you feel that there are many houses in which people live that you would like to see replaced by better ones. Out of these poor homes, of course, have gone many men who are distinguishing themselves on the fields of battle all over the world. From one to four stars often hang in the windows. These men deserve to come back to better homes.
Taken by and large, this countryside one goes through still belongs essentially to a young country. It looks unfinished. There are many things that you can think of which you would like to do if you lived in this house, or on that road. Yet as you look out of the train window and think of the many other countrysides that our men will know before they come home, you cannot help feeling sure that they will be glad to see these towns and villages and these farms exactly as they left them.
I remember a boy I talked to in either Natal or Recife, in Brazil. He was flying a new plane back to the front, and had had a little leave at home. He had been in India and had seen the lines of starving people there. He said that, as he flew from New York City to Detroit, he looked down on all the farm homes and found himself saying: "I wonder if you people know how lucky you are to live in the good old U.S.A."