FEBRUARY 5, 1945
NEW YORK, Sunday—You may have noticed in the papers that Henry Kaiser is heading up the greatest drive for used clothing we have had in this country. I want to remind everyone that this does not mean that we should give less where we usually have given at home. If we have given wisely in the past, what we gave is still needed. We should be sure, however, that what is given here is really going to fill needs that are vital. Everything else that we can spare should go to this drive for countries where without question the need is greater than anything we know over here.
The distribution in foreign countries will, of course, be made through UNRRA, which assures us of transportation and the best possible supervision.
In connection with this question of clothing, I have received, through a friend, a revealing letter from Great Britain. I think it gives an insight into their needs which no words of mine could possibly give. The whole letter is most interesting, but I can give only a part of it today and will finish it at another time.
"In June of 1942, I think it was," it reads, "Ted assisted me in writing you a letter from Mother Hubbard's Cupboard—do you remember it? Well! Today he helps me again to write a similar letter at the end of the fifth full year of war, and in the sixth of its progression. I am not any less a Mother Hubbard some two years and a half afterwards, and I am the more a Polly Flinders, because cinders are precious commodities to us here.
"It is no official secret that the weather has been vile these past four months. Rain has been perpetual, and in the month of November, with but 30 days, we were gifted with 28 days of real, typically English wet weather. I asked one of your American soldiers who was at our home the 9th of November: 'What do you think of England?', to which he replied: 'Oh, England is very much like my own Michigan, excepting the weather. The weather is the absolute limit.' He, of course, spoke in these terms with no anxieties of mind regarding the effects it has upon a home, because he, as with our own servicemen, was better clothed than the ordinary civilian, better warmed and without doubt (and rightly so) better fed, although he said he had seen only two shell eggs in seven months.
"Yet to a mother of any family, the weather is in these days an insidious enemy, in that it has to be beaten with all the inferiorities that war brings. One fights it with dull-edged tools, like food which fills but does not sustain long enough; clothes which, although the best 'utility,' never knew the quality of even our inferior pre-wartime materials; and last but not least, with footwear which never was meant to stay damp and wet, and keep children's toes free and snug from snow, chills and frosts."