FEBRUARY 5, 1946
LONDON—It is extremely difficult for us in the United States to conceive of the conditions confronting the people in the countries of Europe today, and even here in Great Britain.
For instance, it has just been announced that the British Government will not be able to buy any more powdered eggs from us, and that means, of course, that the people will no longer be able to buy them. We in the United States are not very fond of powdered eggs, but this announcement caused consternation among the British.
In my mail is a letter which tells me in no uncertain terms what this will mean to the average British home. I quote from it here:
"I wonder if your 'folks at home' know what it means to us to be deprived of the dried eggs they have been sending us. This deprivation is almost certainly one of the worst we have been called upon to face.
"We can now have no scrambled eggs for breakfast (already reserved for men and children only in most households). We can never give the children Yorkshire pudding and gravy on the many non-meat days. We can never serve pancakes for pudding, and there is only enough milk for one milk pudding a week. We can never make any sort of cake. What confectioners will do seems impossible to surmise.
"We loved your boys especially for their wonderful kindness to our children. What they will think of this, I don't know. They know of our struggle to get fed."
I think this letter illustrates as well as anything else the little things which affect some nations greatly and leave us completely untouched at home. Though the war is over, the people here and in Europe are hardly as well able as we are to settle down to a normal life.
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When an individual here has to make repairs on his house, he is allowed to spend only ten pounds a month, which is equivalent to about forty dollars. If he is in a very bad way, he may be allowed two or three pounds more, but you can well imagine that that does not go far. I think, of course, that big buildings and organizations have a slightly bigger allowance, but it is not enough to achieve major repairs.
Permits for materials are given by the government only under the stress of real necessity. Then, after you have the money and your permit, you have to find labor, and very often your permit, which is good for only three months, runs out before the labor is available. Then you begin the whole weary round again—permit, money, labor,—and it almost seems easier to live among the ruins.
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I had a letter the other day from five American Army boys, inviting Senator Connally and myself to have dinner with them, saying that they were on their last leave before returning home. I had a dinner engagement, so could not accept, but asked them to drop in for a talk with me before I went out. This they did, and I found I had two boys from Texas, one from North Carolina, one from Ohio, and one from New York.
All of them, apparently, are planning to go on with their education when they reach home, but one of them said: "We haven't thought about it very much, for when you are over here, getting home seems so far away that you don't really make any definite plans."
I can understand that, but I asked them whether they had had any chance, while here, to study the problems which as citizens they need to understand when they reach home. They said that was difficult to do, since you could never get more than ten or twelve men together at any one time. I regret this. That number seems to me ideal for a discussion group, but I gathered that discussions were not going on very actively in the ranks of our soldiers.
Nearly all the Assembly delegates are beginning to talk about the end of the session, and I think our work is being speeded up. I imagine that the United States delegation is not the only one with statesmen who feel they have obligations at home pressing heavily upon them. Belgium, for instance, will have a general election soon and, naturally, any man in public life wants to get home at such a time.