FEBRUARY 21, 1950
NEW YORK, Monday—I neglected to mention that the other day I dropped in at the Jacques Seligmann Galleries to see an exhibition of paintings by Constantine Kermes. His subjects are largely drawn from the few remaining Shakers who represent the old Shaker communities and from quaint Pennsylvania Dutch characters.
I know one of those old communities. It is Mount Lebanon, N.Y., and is now used by the Darrow School. I enjoyed meeting two of the remaining old Shaker ladies there.
These communities were self-supporting and have brought many hand skills to a high state of perfection. Being a celibate and semi-monastic group, however, their numbers have dwindled until I am told there are only about fifty Shakers left in our country today.
I particularly liked one painting of an old Pennsylvania Dutch family at their Thanksgiving meal. Paintings such as these, which reproduce the old-time customs and habits of people, are very valuable as historic documents. One is impressed by the calm and nobility of these people, which they still retain, in spite of the hectic life around them.
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Certain items in the newspapers these days are baffling.
It is difficult, for instance, to understand what is going on in Hungary in connection with the accusations against Robert A. Vogeler.
The newspaper reports state that, by his own confession, he has been spying in Hungary for the United States since 1942. No one except our own government can say whether this is true or false.
On the face of it, I cannot help wondering what anyone from the United States could find in Hungary to spy on. As far as I know, we have no special interests there, and have not had, and Hungary certainly had no great influence on any European situation.
Any trials held under the Soviet type of government have come to seem rather unconvincing to the rest of us, so when an American citizen pleads guilty to a charge such as this, one is bewildered and wonders if he is under some kind of pressure or influence. I think most of the world will feel that any defendant is entitled to see a lawyer sent from his own country. I am curious to see whether in a Soviet-dominated country this principle of justice is completely ignored.
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It also is strange to read that after Japanese health officials had invited Mrs. Margaret Sanger to come to Japan and consult with them on their educational program, to put into effect their new law which legalizes birth control, our military authorities refused to grant her permission to enter Japan.
There is a problem in Japan with its tremendous yearly increase in population and its limited resources. In view of this, the native government seems to have decided to look into birth control. Mrs. Sanger was the obvious person to consult and why our occupying forces should interfere with the wishes of the Japanese people in this respect is a little difficult to understand.
I believe people should be given freedom to make their own choices. Those who do not want to hear or know certain things should not be forced to do so. Neither should it be made impossible for those who desire certain kinds of information to obtain it.