My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PHOENIX, Ariz., Monday—We arrived here by plane Sunday afternoon, were met by Mrs. Walter Dougins and went directly to her home. There is something marvelous about the quality of the air in this state and in New Mexico. Both states enjoy much of the same clear blue skies and a quality of atmosphere which makes you feel, as you look at the distant mountains, that you can almost touch them. As we wandered around the garden and looked at Camelback Mountain, I could not help thinking of the variety of climate and landscape that we enjoy in this country of ours within just a few hours of travel.

When we left New York City Saturday we were told that hotel rooms had been reserved for us in Chicago, in case we could not continue on the same plane to our destination. On reaching Chicago, we found that it was raining, but, nevertheless, when we ran into the airport terminal, we found that our plane had been cleared. The uncertainties of weather make it wise to allow a little extra time on air trips. There was a great crowd in the Chicago terminal and I imagine the weather had held up a number of people going in different directions.

I cannot help feeling that a number of air terminals may have to make major improvements, in view of the fact that air travel is certainly going to be increasingly used in the coming years, as new inventions make it safer and gradually conquer the difficulties of bad weather. Building is already going on to improve facilities for travelers.

There were, of course, enormous Army flying installations throughout the country during the war, and as you near the airports you see what look almost like small cities, which are realty barracks and other necessary buildings put up in wartime.

Out here, they tell me that the housing administrator has warned people that the use of such buildings to meet the housing shortage may create the worst slums that have ever existed in our country. This is entirely true if we don't set a limit on the life of all temporary buildings and see to it that, at the end of that time, they are destroyed.

London, because of the great destruction by bombs, has a terrible shortage of housing. There, as they cleared certain bombed areas along the docks, they put up a very temporary kind of shelter. It consisted of two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. A tiny coal-grate fireplace in the living room and a little gas stove in the kitchen are the only means of heating the house.

The next step was still temporary housing, usually of prefabricated material, but with a bathroom and more kitchen conveniences. The last step is brick two-family houses with modern heating, a bathroom, and kitchen facilities far beyond what the poorer houses in London have enjoyed in the past. The first temporary shelters are already being torn down as room is found for the second type; and the permanent houses are going up wherever the land is cleared.

We in this country certainly should use our temporary buildings to the limit for the relief of those needing homes immediately. However, with our resources, and in view of the fact that our shortage comes only from not having been able to build during the war, and not from any destruction, we should be able to plan even more rapidly than the British to replace all temporary housing with permanent homes.

PNews, SHJ, 19 March 1946