FEBRUARY 9, 1945
NEW YORK, Thursday—Yesterday was a day of pure relaxation. I lunched with some old friends and enjoyed it very much. I spent an hour with our old friend, Major Henry S. Hooker, who is gradually going through his period of convalescence at home. In the evening Mrs. Morgenthau, who had spent the day trying to get things for her new apartment in Washington, Miss Thompson, who had been busy going through mail which she hoped someday I would work on, and I went to the play. This was a second evening of pure joy—a salute to American folk and popular music called: "Sing Out, Sweet Land!"
Alfred Drake, Burl Ives and the whole cast, in fact, are very good, and the music takes an old-timer like myself back through the years. We three are all old enough to enjoy every minute of it, and we are still young enough to like the modern things as well; so the whole evening was a grand success.
Tonight I have a speech to make for the Knights of Pythias, and the weather is anything but propitious. At the moment it is snowing hard, but I have a feeling that I shall enjoy being out in the snow this afternoon.
We have been seeing so much in the papers lately of our need for nurses, and sometimes I imagine the nurses have thought we sounded rather critical of them. A few days ago I received a letter from a mother whose daughter is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps and who has spent her third Christmas in "some cold camp in Europe." At home she made $50 a week and her food. But her brother went into the army, and so in '42 she went in, too, accepting the munificent salary of $80 a month. That has gone up a bit, but she has worked for it! She started in England, went to Africa and Sicily, and since last October has been in France.
"Their unit always arrives first, when they must live in ice-cold tents or barracks, wash out of their helmets and wade through the mud," writes her mother. "Last January she nearly died of pneumonia. This time, when reaching France, she was again in the hospital with a severe cold. When they reached France the enemy had put cement in all water pipes and heating facilities, so it took some time to get organized. But the nurses worked and froze. Now she works 15 hours a day, walks 20 minutes to the hospital in slush and cold."
She was offered a leave to come home, but once in France she hoped to see her brother and so refused, saying she wanted to stay until the last gun was fired! "She never complains, she is the life of the party."
Her mother has painted a picture of a very fine young woman, a widow, 38 years old, and I think her mother is right in feeling very proud of her. I only hope that some day these women who look like angels to the wounded men will get not only the praise which is their due, but recognition, promotion and decorations in addition to esteem from their fellow citizens at home.