NOVEMBER 8, 1949
NEW YORK, Monday—I have heard from the Arkansas schoolteacher about whom I wrote late last month in regard to a library for the children of her little mountain school. She was most grateful because they had already received from some kind person a package containing several books and inquiries from several other people asking what they needed. I am most grateful for the interest and response to this story.
The Ozark Mountains are one of the very poor areas of our country, poor not only in school facilities but in libraries and in health and recreational facilities. Many of my readers may remember the stories of Ted Richmond and his Wilderness Library, which is found also in the Ozark Mountains. He has been collecting books for years and acting as a lending library for a whole group of people around him.
Some of the things the Arkansas teacher told me might interest my readers. She said that in their county they had only one doctor. She also wrote that there were no paved roads, or black top as she called it, and the bus had to go over very rough routes. Many of the children in the winter season have to carry a light, because to reach the place where they take the bus they must start an hour before sun up. Then, when they leave the bus on their way home, it is dark. That is certainly getting an education under difficulties.
The picture from the health side did not seem any too bright. How could one doctor cover all types of illness and be available when needed in all parts of the county? She told me the nearest hospital was 45 miles away. The answer, of course, is that you either stay well or you die. A great many people must die who, with proper facilities, might live.
This picture is not a story of India or some remote spot in South America or Africa, or even in an inaccessible spot in Siberia. It is the picture of a county in the United States of America—our own country where transportation and communication have reached such a high plane of development!
What is to be done about it?
Perhaps prolonged discussion on socialized medicine will go on for some years to come and another generation of young people will grow up without medical care. I wonder if there might not be a way of attacking the problem little by little and taking a step at a time. I think a great many of our problems in the world will have to be approached in that same way.
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We have been fortunate over this past weekend in having two able women journalists, Mrs. Elizabeth May Craig and Miss Doris Fleeson, spend Saturday and Sunday with us. They have just returned from a trip around the world, done so quickly under the auspices of our Defense Department that they got practically a contemporary bird's-eye view of conditions throughout the world. Only trained observers would have seen or heard a great deal, but these two are experienced hands at finding out the things they want to know. I am deeply grateful to them for coming up to tell us about their travels.