JANUARY 14, 1950
BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Friday—We arrived yesterday morning in Toledo, more than an hour late, and after a brief stopover went on to Indianapolis, then motored over here. I enjoyed the time on the train, however. We didn't breakfast until nine o'clock and then I read one Buffalo newspaper and two New York City papers. In addition, I got a good start on a book which I have been wanting to read for a long time. A friend of mine gave it to me, and though it is not a new publication, I find it delightfully written. When I get through, if it continues to be interesting up to the end, I shall tell you all about it.
I got into the dining car ahead of Miss Thompson yesterday morning and the dining car steward, in giving me a table, said: "I do not know whether you remember me. I used to be the night clerk at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago, and the last time I saw you I was one of many men lined up to receive you in one of the camps in northern Australia."
When someone tells me they had to stand at attention and wait for hours, my heart sinks. I always used to feel on those occasions that the men were probably furious and very resentful when anybody made them go through such an ordeal. I was always grateful to a commanding officer who let his men go on about their business and escorted me rather aimlessly so that I could see what they ordinarily would be doing.
It wasn't easy in those camps to get spruced up and stand in line. Often the sun beat down mercilessly on the men, who were just waiting to see someone whose identity they had not even learned beforehand. I used to think how unhappy it would make my own sons and that didn't make me feel any happier. So I was grateful when the steward added: "Believe me, Mrs. Roosevelt, we were really glad to see you." I only hope the numbers who were glad outnumbered those who were annoyed.
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After a hurried lunch in the hotel yesterday there was a press conference primarily attended by high-school students. As usual, there were the ones who asked the most devastating questions, such as: "Do you think any of your sons would ever be elected to the Presidency?"
And, "Would the Chinese representatives now on the United Nations representing the Nationalist government be ousted?"
In both cases I was able to say quite truthfully that I had no idea. But the youngsters looked quite distressed and I am sure that they felt one should be able to look into the future and predict with infallible omniscience.
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I see that Senator Taft is demanding that we uphold Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's government. I cannot quite understand that attitude. We have given China both money and goods in the past. We also sent one of our top military advisers in the person of General Marshall to try to persuade the Nationalist government to follow a policy that would give the people of China a feeling that they were all united in a common effort for reform and improvement.
It is quite evident that all these questions in Asia are basically economic questions and that the people have to feel that a course is being followed that will raise their standard of living and give them something worthwhile to work for. This was not accomplished by the Chinese National government. To draw us into the present civil war seems to me no helpful solution to the Chinese problems.