SEPTEMBER 17, 1945
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I went down to New York City on Friday to attend a meeting of a small, new organization called "Widows of World War II." They have started branches in New York City and in neighboring counties, and their hope, if they prove helpful to each other, is to spread to other parts of the nation. At first, only a few women met together to talk over their problems and possible solutions. Now their membership has grown to eighty.
Most of these widows, of course, want opportunities for social life. Then they want some concerted effort made to find better employment opportunities—especially part time work, or work at home, for those who have children. They have additional problems, such as allotments which do not come through. Many of these widows, too, must leave small children behind while they go to work, and they are concerned over the problem of what to do when there are no adequate child care centers in their neighborhood.
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At the meeting, it was interesting to observe the general reaction when one girl brought up her problem. After her husband's loss, she said, she found it very difficult to pull herself together again. Her health had been affected, and she realized that she was not giving her two small children the kind of care and companionship they needed. She wondered if, for her own well-being and for her children's sake, she should try to find some kind of boarding school, but she feared the expense would be prohibitive.
Quickly, suggestions were made that the group might find some member in her neighborhood who could help out and thereby give her more free time. It was heartening to see how general was the realization that both she and her children would lose something very valuable if, so early in their lives, the latter were separated from their mother and their own home.
These women are, for the most part, very young, and for many of them renewal of a family life may come in the future. But this new organization may give them, during a very difficult period of their lives, the companionship and the sense of backing which every woman needs and which her husband usually provides. I hope that I may be able to be of some use to them in the coming winter; and if they find that their organization really meets their needs, I hope that it will spread to other places.
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I came home as early as possible on Saturday morning, to be greeted by Fala as though I had been away for a month. He kept begging me to go for a walk, but I thought he had already had his morning exercise and I put him off during most of the day. I finally discovered that he had been really cheated, so Major and Mrs. Melvyn Douglas and I sallied forth and gave him the walk for which he had been pleading. Earlier, we had a teatime chat with Mr. and Mrs. Sam Weil, who had come up to see the library.