MAY 14, 1946
NEW YORK, Monday—On arriving here yesterday, having driven from Hyde Park through torrents of rain, we were greeted by a message that, because of the weather, the mayor had decided to call off the citizens, "Save OPA" rally which was to have been held at 2:30 at the Lewisohn Stadium. I was sorry for the committee in charge, but patted myself on the back as I thought of all the pleasant things I could do with a free afternoon.
But that was not to last long! In about an hour, they called back to say that, since the sun was now out and the weather man was evidently wrong in his predictions of more rain, we would all meet at the stadium at 3 o'clock.
My son Franklin, Jr., who was to preside, arrived a little late with his wife because they had to drive in from Long Island. The meeting progressed and, much to my surprise, in spite of the last-minute changes, about 5,000 people were on hand.
It was a responsive audience. And it was one of the rare occasions on which representatives of the CIO and the AFL both spoke on the same platform on the same side of a question.
The Mayor, congratulating those who had come to this meeting, announced that we were going to be behind Chester Bowles, Stabilization Director, right through this fight, and that, if one rally were not enough, we would go right on having them until the weather man found it convenient to have a wonderful day for us!
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Gradually, I am discovering various things which I think will be helpful to veterans. For instance, I have just found that the Department of the Interior has what they call "A Small Tract Program." Under this program, the department may sell or lease public-domain land in small tracts for homes or camps, for health, convalescent or recreational purposes, or for business sites.
The greatest activity has been in the desert areas of Southern California, and in the vicinity of Los Angeles. But the Interior Department has been endeavoring to expand the program to all the public land in the West and in the South.
There is so much housing difficulty nowadays that this small-tract program is a great help. You may improve your land as you wish and, except when it is used for business purposes, it is leased for $5.00 a year. When it is used for business, the charge is only a small percentage of the gross business.
So far, no land has been sold. One very good reason, I think, is that the program is not yet sufficiently well planned. For instance, in a desert area a test well should be dug, so that a prospective buyer would have some idea how far he might have to go down for water.
The number of people who have put in applications for land is up to 10,000. But very few improvements have been made so far, since what has been leased has been largely for health purposes and probably very little money is available.