JANUARY 25, 1950
PORTLAND, Ore., Tuesday—I have never seen a more watery outlook than meets the eye from a plane all the way from San Francisco up to the Northwest area. Fields are under water and streams are filled to overflowing. Late though you may be by plane, it is lucky when one can catch a plane to travel by, since some of the trains have been completely stopped. Others have been held up for many hours when snow or flood blocked their tracks.
At Eureka, Calif., a young newspaper reporter handed me a folder with some articles on the dams which are to be built to help control these floods. I am sure this will be a good investment and will help save some of the large losses caused by floods year after year in these areas. But I do not think they are enough. In many other parts of the United States the people would invest their money well by strengthening the agencies of the state governments that do research and planning in the soil conservation and reforestation areas.
Perhaps in these states where lumbering has been going on for many years one of the reasons for floods is the small amount of reforestation that has been done.
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Everyone has been asking me what I think of the Alger Hiss jury verdict. I do not see that there is much to be said. We believe that we have set up the best system under which to obtain justice that can exist in our own country. Trial by your peers is supposed to be the last word in safeguarding the innocent. So how can any one of us question it?
There is one more safeguard of appeal, and Mr. Hiss' counsel has announced he is going to appeal. He must believe in his client's innocence and in the ultimate triumph of truth.
Whittaker Chambers, as I understand it, has confessed to all the sins of which he accused Mr. Hiss, including perjury, but if you are a witness for the government, you are, of course, exempt from punishment. If you had a bad conscience and wanted to be sure you would be safe, this seems to me an eminently wise way to gain security and peace of mind for the future.
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I drove a short distance Sunday night in a state police car which the Governor had kindly sent to escort me from the airport when he discovered that my plane could not get into the Portland airport and he realized I would keep everyone waiting unless I travelled fairly quickly between Salem and Portland. I was very grateful for his kindness.
I enjoyed the short visit that I had with the young state trooper. He came to this part of the country from Texas and even the rough winter they are having here has not discouraged him about the state and its climate. He prefers it to the heat of his native state, and he quite evidently likes his work. He paid the truck drivers of this region a high compliment by saying that they were trained drivers and abided by the law and aided those who were enforcing it.
He spent eight months in the European combat area and, as he looks back on it, he feels that having come through safely he has learned many things that will give him a greater appreciation of his own country and a greater understanding of the other countries of the world.
That is what encourages me about the younger generation. They take an interest in matters beyond their own immediate surroundings because they have seen what an impact the various parts of the world have on one another. We must hope that they can pass on their experience and interest to the next generation, which we hope shall not have to fight a war to obtain it.