DECEMBER 16, 1948
NEW YORK, Wednesday—I landed safely at home Sunday night just 10 minutes late! This shows that even at this uncertain time of year one can have very good luck flying across the ocean.
We were two hours late leaving the Paris airport, so instead of getting off at 2:10 a.m. Sunday morning, we left at 4 a.m. We landed at Shannon, Ireland, about 6:30, and we were all in the airport for breakfast. I had never seen so many mothers with small children at an airfield! They all seemed to be either babes in arms, or toddlers who kept getting under our feet while their mothers were busy feeding the babies. I soon discovered that American soldiers who had been three years in Germany were going home with their wives and children and were going to get there before Christmas.
I spoke to one girl from Yugoslavia, one from France and several from Germany. They seemed so young I could not help hoping that they would find a warm welcome when they finally reached home, and that someone would help them to get adjusted to the differences of life over here. They have left hardships, but at least the hardships were in a framework of life to which they had become accustomed. Everything here no doubt will seem strange—not only the language but also the hurry and bustle and the ways of life will be different.
We heard in Shannon that there had been a snowstorm at the Gander airfield in Newfoundland and that seven feet of snow lay on the landing field. No runway had yet been cleared. Shortly after, however, word came that one runway was usable, so we were off and though we circled for three-quarters of an hour over Gander, waiting for other planes to land, all went smoothly.
Here again, it seemed to me, that the babies and young mothers and fathers had taken over the airport. Soldiers were everywhere, carrying their babies, giving them bottles or keeping them quiet while the mothers went to get something to eat.
From Gander we got off very promptly and made up the time lost and I was more than happy to see my son Elliott and daughter Anna waiting for me at the airport.
I was not quite so happy to see the newspapermen and the newsreels with their strong lights and the radio all waiting for me! Having been on the plane a good many hours, I knew that I couldn't look very tidy and that my hat was certainly on crooked, not having had a looking-glass in which to peek. There is no mercy, however, for the returning traveller and I answered questions for the reporters and spoke for the newsreels and the radio and just hoped that if the pictures ever were shown the public would have a little more pity on the returning traveller than the searchers for news seem to have!
Since arriving home I have been engulfed in the busy life of New York. I had almost forgotten how much more slowly the life around one even in Paris seems to move. There is no traffic problem there. I had so completely forgotten what could happen here that I was late for my first broadcast! The impression that strikes me most deeply now is of the vitality and life here in comparison to any place that I visited in Europe, and I have a great sense of thankfulness for our own vigorous population.
* * *
Yesterday I stole away and motored up to the country for a few hours and found that my two little dogs were glad to see me, but nevertheless were able to get along quite well without me! Since I had been away so long they feel the really important things in their lives can be provided by someone else. I will have to work to win them back again. I didn't even try on Tuesday, for I knew I had to desert them for another few days and come to New York to meet my grandson and Miss Thompson, who are arriving on the "America."
* * *
I must tell you one other thing that impresses me: the size of our newspapers!
I was grateful in Paris for the New York Herald Tribune's Paris edition and for the New York Times, which was flown to us in a condensed edition and arrived one day late. Both of these papers nevertheless are a miniature of what we have over here, much of which is advertising of course. But just to see the amount of paper used gives me a sense of our opulence and of our great resources in comparison with the other countries of the world.