JANUARY 11, 1945
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I had the pleasure yesterday of having the Hon. Fred M. Vinson and the Hon. Marvin Jones lunch with me. This talk, together with explanations which OPA Administrator Chester Bowles has given me, helped me to understand not only some of the difficulties which confront them in getting us properly clothed and fed during the war period, but to understand some of the hard work which goes into the making of decisions.
They often disagree as to method, and over long months have to thresh out things which we look upon as being sudden and arbitrary decisions. Many actions have their roots in conditions which have been going on for weeks.
For instance, the recent cancellation of points was practically forced because there was such an accumulation of them out, and such a reduction in the actual supplies available. It worked hardship on thrifty housewives who perhaps planned and saved points to give the boys on furlough an extra feast, or to care for invalid diets or similar situations. Yet, sudden buying might have worked much greater hardship on a great many people in the country.
I think it is well for us all to know that the first thing done is to take out the army and navy needs from all of our supplies. Then come the things which must be provided on lend-lease. The remainder is allocated as fairly as possible to civilians at home. When I say as fairly as possible, I mean that a great deal of thought goes into what is rationed and what is left free, and what will really make it fairest for the largest number of people.
The accumulated points, of course, were largely in the hands of people who are working and who eat out—people who perhaps have only breakfast at home, with now and then a grand meal on a Sunday. Or, they were in the hands of farm people who grow most of their food and did not use their points.
Fortunately for our total supply, a great many people last year had Victory gardens and put up a great deal of food. That has been of inestimable help. However, with the best will in the world, human beings sometimes make mistakes. Everyone's judgment at some time goes wrong. Every effort is being made not to let any food go to waste, but now and again it will happen. Then we want to remember, in the midst of our annoyance, that the men in charge are doing the very best they can and are working day and night over their problems.
Just as a light note to finish this rather solemn column, I'd like to urge upon you, if you haven't seen it, to get a book called "Babies and Puppies Are Fun!", by Becky Reyher, with drawings by Henry Stahlhut. I never before saw the similarity between the two so delightfully illustrated, and I don't think you can look through the book and not have several good laughs—and who doesn't want to laugh in these days?