FEBRUARY 15, 1949
NEW YORK, Monday—While in St. Louis last week I had an opportunity to visit again with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hannegan, and to meet with the women members of the Democratic County Committee. I also was interested to meet the Democratic candidate for mayor. St. Louis elects a mayor in the spring, and with a primary coming up very shortly, it must seem rather hectic to the citizens and party authorities to start on a new campaign after just getting over the national elections.
I was able to make a brief visit to the art museum to see the collection of old masters from Germany which is touring the country at present. Crowds of people already have viewed these pictures, and it certainly is a great opportunity to have shown in one group over here so many examples of the work of the old masters of Europe.
I wanted very much to visit the site of the Jefferson Memorial, but I had no time to do it on this trip. Going out on the train and coming back by plane gave me my first opportunity in some time to get a little continuous reading done. I read a short memorial called, "The Mr. Winant I Knew," written by Ethel M. Johnson. It is a most fitting tribute, and I am so glad that there is something of this kind which all of us who knew Gil Winant can keep and read from time to time.
I also read the manuscript of a book for the Junior Literary Guild, and finally settled down to a large and heavy manuscript of a novel, sent me by the publisher, which is a "first" novel on a very timely subject. I can't say that it makes very pleasant reading and yet I find it hard to put down. When the time comes for its publication, I shall be most anxious to see what the critics have to say about it and to tell you how I feel about it.
On the way out in the train a number of young boys en route to various camps came to talk to me. Most of them are 18-year-olds and voluntary enlistments. One hopes that this experience may prove of great value to them, and at least one is grateful that they are not going into a war.
Finally, I had quite a long talk with a young Middle Western businessman. He touched on a point that I find a great many people are talking about just now, namely that the market had changed.
Whereas a short time ago almost anything could be sold because nobody had enough to fill the needs of their customers, now people and businesses are getting caught up and are hesitant about buying. It will be necessary, he said, to develop a technique whereby you can persuade people to buy more than they need.
I question the economic soundness of this idea, however. It seems to me that one should sell to more people or develop markets in other countries, but that to oversell your own home market is apt to lose customers for you in the long run.
I am wondering whether some of our business associations ought not to be thinking through the meaning of changes such as this and finding the answers not only for the big manufacturer but for the little businesses as well.