OCTOBER 17, 1945
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Yesterday I attended the Democratic Women's rally in Brooklyn. Mrs. William H. Good presided and many of the local candidates spoke, and the members seeking election on the Council were also presented. Most of the people present were party workers, I imagine, but Brooklyn must have a tremendous number of active workers, for the room was filled and women stood during the whole time that I was there.
I am always sorry when I hear that registration is low at times when such an important election as that of the Mayor of New York City is at stake. Mr. Kelly, who is a wise person, said that it required a crusade to get out the number of registrants that were on hand in last autumn's campaign, which means, I suppose, that we are more interested in national representatives than we are in local representatives. Yet that goes against all the things which I have believed in the past! I have always thought that we had to awaken the interest of people through happenings in their own localities which they could directly connect with their own lives. Yet here, in a matter which affects so many people as the election of a mayor in our city, we apparently find people taking very little interest. Perhaps we are just contradictory!
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In the evening I went up to Harlem to a very small meeting at the YMCA with a few people who are anxious to face the problems of their community and do what they can about them.
It was interesting to hear what some of the teachers and workers in community centers said about the difficulty of interesting the older people in local activities for the benefit of children or for the benefit of the community as a whole. In one case, where 194 families were personally visited and asked to come to an important meeting of community affairs, only 12 came. Then the young people of the community center visited the same people and urged their attendance at a meeting called by the younger element themselves. The same 12 mothers came to the meeting. Of course, it is easy to understand that the conditions under which most of these Harlem mothers work make interest in civic affairs very difficult. But there was one encouraging note about a neighborhood association which actually had been formed and was working successfully in one area.
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I had a visit the other day from Mrs. Bernard Gimbel of the American Women's Voluntary Services, Inc. She came to tell me of a new activity among the American children, who are being asked to fill AWVS Friendship boxes. They take an empty wooden cigar box, decorate it to suit their own taste, and fill it with a variety of small items. Certain things, however, must go in—namely, pens, erasers, note books, paper pads, crayons, foreign language dictionaries, small rulers, etc. The articles may be old or new, as long as they are in condition to be used. Then the boxes are sent with a letter to a child abroad, the sender being allowed to select the country and the age group to which the box is to go. In working out the whole project, a great many activities can be given to the children, so that many different ages can participate in it. From my point of view, it is excellent training in awakening interest and friendship among nations.