FEBRUARY 4, 1950
NEW YORK, Friday—I am home today from my three days spent in what might be called the most progressive of the Southern states—North Carolina.
There is a charm about the South. The smell of magnolias, the lavender-and-old-lace feeling, still exists there. People are less hurried; they have more opportunity perhaps for the grace of living. But underneath it all I am not so sure that there are not some signs of poverty and unhappiness that will gradually have to disappear if that part of our nation is going to prosper and keep pace with the rest of it.
My grandmother was a Bulloch from Georgia. I was brought up as a child on the delightful plantation tales told by her half-sister, my great aunt, Mrs. James King Gracie.
My father adored his aunt Ella Bulloch, who lived from the time of the Civil War in Liverpool, England, because two Bulloch brothers had been so successfully active in the Southern cause that they were not included in the general amnesty and established themselves in Liverpool. I often think my grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt, who was a staunch Northerner, must have had some difficulties during those years of the war as he could not mention it at home, since my grandmother had her mother and half-sister from Georgia living in the house.
For me the plantation at Roswell, Georgia, and the home in Savannah were always glamorous places, though I never saw them until I was grownup.
With all this background I cannot help having a deep interest in the welfare of the state of Georgia, and of the South as a whole. Still I never go into that part of the country and come away without a certain sense of sadness. One can enjoy oneself superficially, but one must shut one's eyes.
The hope, of course, in the South, as everywhere else, is in the younger generation. There I see great changes brewing but those changes will be heartbreaking to the older generation.
It is not only in the South, however, that the younger generation is facing certain realities today that their elders find it somewhat difficult to understand.
When I was in Michigan I was told that not so very long ago the papers published a story of bonus distributions to the highly paid executives of one of the great automobile companies. The heads of these companies are fine and upstanding businessmen, but many of their ideas are ideas of the past.
Also, the negotiations were going on between Walter Reuther of the CIO and the Chrysler management representatives while I was in Michigan. How ridiculous that the workers should be asking for pensions, these top management men will say, in speaking to the steel executive who explained that without the rise in steel prices they would not be able to keep up their interest payments on investments. That is probably true if you pay such high bonuses to your highly paid executives.
The people have decided, however, that they intend to share more equally in the fruits of their labor. And I am not sure but what these very same high executives are going to find some members of the younger generation in their own families siding with the people. In the long run, the people win when their cause is just.
I believe that as labor has gained in strength it must accept greater responsibility. It must know the real problems of management and share the difficult situations that may occur. But labor also has a right to share in the good days that are now at hand. North and South, there are new points of view to be faced.