AUGUST 3, 1949
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—A strange letter has just come to me. I reproduce it as a shining example of something difficult to understand. It reads:
Recently some of my friends returning to New York from Saratoga related the following to me:
"Your car was directly in front of them, yours stopped, let out a child to run across the street for something and thereby held up a long line of cars. When the driver of this car got out of his car, went to your car and asked the reason for the delay, you ignored him completely. I ask you 'is this the American way?'
"If true, it seems a flagrant misuse of power given you and paid for by all the taxpayers of New York. I cannot believe that one who has had so much influence since 1932 could so forget herself by being so really discourteous.
"Stories like this are being circulated daily and I think it is only fair to ask you this question."
This is interesting, because no one has spoken to me this entire summer when I have been out in my car. I do not recollect stopping beside the road but once. On that occasion I pulled as far off the road as I could, opposite a small vegetable stand. All of the other cars passed me. No one spoke to me. I sent no child across the road. A grown person with me got out and went across the road and bought some ears of corn.
The only other time this summer that I can remember any incident on the road was when I apologized to another driver. I thought I had done something wrong. Neither of us stopped.
I fail to understand the third paragraph in this letter. What flagrant "misuse of power...paid for by all the taxpayers of New York" can there have been? As far as I know all taxpayers are permitted to drive on the roads and stop when they wish if they obey regulations.
I only bother to quote this to show how rumors get started and spread!
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I think the time has come when throughout this country every state should make a careful survey of state institutions for the mentally ill.
I am told on every side that if properly used, modern methods can cure more patients than ever before. They can become useful citizens and normal members of their families. In spite of this, more beds are required in hospitals for the mentally ill than for any other ailment. The number is constantly going up.
It seems to me the first thing to do is to make sure that our state institutions are given the appropriations which will allow the best possible care for inmates in mental hospitals.
For the long range, studies should be made to discover what it is in our pattern of life that brings about this instability in human beings.
Is it something in the home? Is it a lack of education?
Whatever the cause, we should begin to find the answer, and work out a better pattern of life.