FEBRUARY 27, 1951
NEW YORK, Monday—Saturday afternoon I was back in New York City and I took my grandson and his wife and Miss Thompson to see Sidney Kingsley's dramatization of Arthur Koestler's book, "Darkness at Noon." I had seen the play before, but I felt that its lesson was such a powerful one that perhaps it would be well to see it again. And I was really more impressed on this second visit than I had been at the first. Claude Rains' acting is simply an extraordinary feat; I do not see how he does it night after night.
In the last few days I have read some rather charming, light books that my readers might enjoy. I picked up on my table at Hyde Park, "A Country Wife," by Dorothy van Doren with illustrations by Mimi Korach. You may have seen it for we have had it for some time, but I just never got to it. If you haven't read it and you have a country house you care about, I think it will give you some chuckles and some tender moments of reminiscence. Miss Van Doren has put the experiences and the thoughts of many of us into a truly delightful and charming book.
Then there is a new novel called, "Boy at the Window," by Owen Dodson. It is a sensitive and rather sad little book, but I think the writer has done something that will be illuminating to many of us and of value in creating better understanding.
And, finally, there is a little book called, "Old Herbaceous," which anyone who loves a garden should keep somewhere on a shelf. It is tender and understanding and funny, and Mrs. Charteris and Mr. Pinnegar are unforgettable characters.
There is a textbook, too, that has come my way that I think many grownups will find useful, particularly if their household includes young people. It is called, "Man's Story," or "World History in Its Geographic Setting," by T. Walter Wallbank. It will be used in schools, but many youngsters, girls and boys in their teens, will find it interesting reading at home.
I received a letter on my return here begging me to see that the boys involved in the basketball scandal be given another chance. The writer felt that if given this chance, they would make much more of themselves than they would have if they had not given in once to temptation and seen what the dire results, of dishonesty can be. He says he knows none of the boys but feels that older people should take a charitable view of the failures of young people.
I am sure that this was carefully considered by those who uncovered the scandal, and I feel sure that each case will be given careful scrutiny and no unjustly harsh punishment will be meted out. Of course, I know none of the young men personally and I feel strongly that those who tempted them should bear the primary blame.
I also feel that perhaps colleges make a mistake to allow any of their sports to be semi-commercialized. Intercollegiate sports are healthy only up to the point where the gamblers move in on them. It also seems to me that, though there may be extenuating circumstances, by the time a boy goes to college honesty should be a part of his moral training. He should already have had some experience in which he discovered that wrongdoing brought certain inevitable results.
I always believe, however, with my correspondent that where it is a case for giving all human beings a second chance, this is the gamble most of us would want to take!