DECEMBER 20, 1949
NEW YORK, Monday—The Business and Professional Women's Club of Johnstown, N.Y., has called my attention to a very interesting Christmas program carried on in their city. Johnstown has always had an enviable tradition on which to build because its main industry goes back to the days of the Indians. In their day they used hemlock and ash to cure deerskin. These are the roots from which sprang the great glove-making business, which used the skill of the Scotch mitten-makers who were brought overseas so long ago by Sir William Johnson. Sir William's great mansion still stands in Johnstown.
This year, besides the usual decorations and business promotion campaign, they set up Santa's workshop in the YMCA. On each day for a week different nationalities, which are part of the population of the town, carried out their own particular customs and took charge for that day. On the French Day they sang French carols, they wore French costumes and everyone spoke French. On Italian Day visitors learned about Italian Christmas customs and Italian costumes. The following day was Slovak Day; next came Irish Day, and, finally, Early American Day.
The diplomats of the various nationality groups who were notified of what was going on sent telegrams congratulating the city on the recognition shown of the customs and habits of the lands from which the present population of Johnstown sprung. It was undoubtedly a good publicity stunt and it brought visitors from up and down the Mohawk Valley.
In the meantime, it must have created much good feeling among the inhabitants of the city. They must have grown closer as they learned about the background of their neighbors. I wonder if in any other city throughout the country such an idea has been carried out. If not, it might well be done. I am sure that Santa's workshop turned out many toys for needy children, besides affording entertainment for many groups each day.
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I wonder whether many of us realize that at this Christmastime and all through the year there are ships of the United States Navy cruising around the Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, North, Red, Tyrrhenian, Ionian, Aegean and Arabian Seas, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
These vessels protect Americans and American interests in faraway countries. We now have more and more people living in different countries throughout the world because we have become involved in business and in different forms of aid throughout the world. One of their main jobs—and this is impressed on sailors as well as on officers—is to make friends for the United States. We need friends in the world because while we have given a great deal, we, as a nation have a great deal, and some people think we have suffered very little in comparison with what they have suffered. So, at times, it is hard for them not to be envious of us.
Our fleet works in these areas in close cooperation with our diplomats and our land forces, if we have any in the countries where the fleet may drop into port. It is good, I think, at times to think of all our armed forces as active in making peace rather than in taking part in war or preparation for war.
So, when we hear of the Eastern Atlantic forces under able Admiral Richard M. Conolly, let us say a prayer of gratitude and send him our congratulations. Incidentally, Admiral Conolly will become superintendent of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., next year.