MARCH 27, 1945
WASHINGTON, Monday—I have a letter from a woman who is the mother of seven children and who speaks with feeling of the difficulties of another family in her neighborhood where there are nine children. She points to one of the weaknesses of our communities which I think we should bear in mind, not only now, but from now on as our community problems increase.
She says: "It is just this, Mrs. Roosevelt—no War Risk insurance, no Red Cross, no charitable organization can do what neighbors in a democracy should do and are not doing. We are not doing it for lack of an intelligent plan of home cooperation, practical cooperation, at least for the duration.
"I want a plan something like this: Over the radio I heard the other day that in Franklin, Ohio, the police department offered to help the wives and families of men overseas. That is, do those little things and give them the protection that a husband and father, or older son, would do for the home. These wives of men in service can register at the police department, and are also asked to place a light in the window at night so the guardian of law and order can keep an eye on those homes needing help in emergencies. Many of them are unable to obtain a telephone. That is what I suggested to the Parent-Teacher Association, in a sense—to register at one's school PTA, or church, in an overall plan of home cooperation. The police will be glad to help this mother with two invalid sons and six young children, no telephone, and her husband out at night with his taxi.
"But the police department can't help her eliminate some of the drudgery of her work. The neighbors can, and I am sure there are things she can do for her neighbors, too, with the little free time she will then have.
"A wealth of exchange could be made on a plan like this. And if successful, even employment for many women in neighborhood cooperatives, with latest equipment bought and used cooperatively, making use of homemakers' higher skills. For instance, there are homemakers who love to iron and dislike to do a washing, while others are very good at the latter. Some enjoy cooking and baking, and still others don't at all mind washing dishes, etc. The effect on the children of the community will be very good, and even large families will come in for a share of the good things of life for which they now fight."
This plan is like going back to rock bottom as far as our background is concerned, because nothing could be more connected with our past than helping each other in our home communities.