My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Thursday—I sometimes think that through art we are going to draw nearer some of our Latin American neighbors and understand them better than we can through other contacts. I therefore was interested to hear that Contemporary Arts of New York is holding a joint exhibition of the work of Brazilian and American painters, first in the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, and later in Sao Paulo. Art speaks a language which is universally understood.

At a recent Grange meeting I was very much interested in some pictures shown by Mr. Williams, the county agent, dealing with soil erosion in Dutchess County. I am glad that all over this country we are becoming conscious of the danger of having topsoil washed away by heavy rains. Having gulleys created in the field, which make the full use of the land difficult, and removing the topsoil to a lower level may give a good crop on half a field, but the upper part of the field will bear poorly.

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Mr. Williams also showed us that contour plowing as well as strip planting is beginning to be done, and that reforestation is gaining throughout the country. It is important to do this work in our eastern states, even though much of our thought so far has been centered on the southern and western states, where drought and floods have done so much damage in the last few years.

The master of a neighboring Grange spoke, and some letters were read from boys overseas who are members of the Grange. I was struck by the fact that the attendance was limited almost entirely to older men and women and girls. The master of the Fall-Kill Grange told us that he had been threshing, and that two men of 70 and two young boys were all he could muster for work which would ordinary be done by men in the prime of life.

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I think too little has been said about the contribution to the war effort made by farmers. Very largely the young men have gone to war, and the older men are carrying on—increasing their work hours, and doing heavy labor.

There are great advantages to a life on a farm, provided you do not carry a mortgage. For one thing, you never face the complete starvation which confronts the city worker when he loses his job. But I realize very keenly the hazards and the gamble in a farmer's life, and the hardship of working day in and day out for very low income. You must love the soil and the life you lead on it, or you could never have the satisfaction in it which I sense in talking to most of the men who choose farming as a career.

PNews, SHJ, 18 August 1944