JANUARY 9, 1945
WASHINGTON, Monday—We had a most delightful surprise yesterday. Dave Rubinoff, who is appearing at the Capitol Theatre for the second time in three months, telephoned over and offered to play for us in the evening. We happened to have a few people staying in the house. Everyone enjoyed hearing him, and I was very grateful.
It happened also yesterday that at luncheon we had the pleasure of having Mrs. Alice Rogers Hager, who has been for a few months in China for the magazine Skyways, and who had seen a good deal of my Red Cross friend, Miss Coletta Ryan. It was most interesting getting first-hand impressions and hearing of the little things in daily life which, as a rule, people do not consider important enough to write about.
In the evening another newspaper correspondent, Mrs. Ella Winter, who spent six months in Russia for the New York Post, dined with us and again gave us first-hand impressions which were most interesting.
Someone sent me an amusing clipping the other day on "What People Are Thinking," by Elmo Roper of Public Opinion Survey fame. He tells some of the curious quirks which illustrate our lack of information or our complete misinformation on many things that most of us assume everybody knows about!
One of the items which Mr. Roper picks out is that 51 percent of our high school students, tested in one survey, were unable to name either of the U.S. Senators from their state. Curiously enough, I had a similar experience in teaching current events some years ago. I suggested that my class take a number of questions home dealing with their representatives in various branches of government, and find out the answers. Parents are obviously one of the first sources of information. In my rather small class of ten or twelve, only one child could tell me the names of her two U.S. Senators from New York State. Another child blandly told me she had been able to find the name of only one, and that was Senator Borah!
Senator Borah at that time was very much in the public press, and the fact that he was the U.S. Senator from Idaho was probably mentioned at least once a day.
There are many other obvious things cited by Mr. Roper which make one wonder whether the great majority of people really read their newspapers and whether, when they listen on the radio, they take in much of what they hear. Today this is rather serious, as the public questions to be decided on are going to affect each and every person in his daily life. If people make up their minds without adequate knowledge, prejudice which has come to them from former generations will many times be the only factor considered, and the chance of making an intelligent decision is pretty small.
Tomorrow I will quote from a letter which will illustrate this fact.