MAY 26, 1951
NEW YORK, Friday—I left the country on Wednesday afternoon and resumed on Thursday the usual round of work and telephone calls and mail that fill a day in New York City. I am going to spend as little time as possible from now on in New York City, but I fear I must catch up on a number of things. While I am here I feel a little bit like a squirrel in a cage.
Because of the rain, taxis were scarce on Fifth Avenue Thursday morning and I was grateful to a driver who made a "U" turn to pick me up. I had hardly closed the door when the driver said, "I saw who it was and that is why I made the turn, so I hope you won't mind if I get an autograph." I agreed that I did not mind at all and inquired if he had a child who collects them. He said he had, indeed; in fact, two daughters. The elder, he told me, is 13 and has a nearly perfect record in school. Until this year, he said, she had never fallen below a 99 in her marks, but since she is a teenager her interests have widened a little and she had fallen to the shocking depths of 94.
I enjoyed having the driver tell me about his hobby, which is taking motion pictures. He explained he does without some things in order to buy film. However, in the next breath he added that his wife had to go back to work for the first time in 16 years because of the increased cost of living and the need to keep his children in school. I wonder how many other mothers are finding they must help out in this way if they want their children to go on with their education.
I wasn't far wrong when I told a radio audience in Europe that whatever is done in this country for our own domestic benefit and for the ultimate benefit of other countries of the world is paid for solely by ourselves. And we earn that needed extra money in such tangible ways as this wife and mother is doing by going back to work. She feels in her own mind she is doing this because of her own daughters. As a matter of fact, she is doing it for all the peoples of the world, who must be aided today through the initiative, strength and generosity of the American people.
I wish that along with our money we could pass on some of the qualities brought by the pioneers to this country. Those are the qualities that have made this country great—the love of adventure, the zest to overcome problems and difficulties and a determination to succeed. These are the qualities that built the United States and these are the qualities we should try to instill along with our material aid wherever we are able to give it.
Like so many taxicab men, my driver this morning remarked he had often been fortunate in picking up prominent people. He had actually taken former President Herbert Hoover to Al Smith's funeral and he had asked Mr. Hoover whether he was "responsible for the depression because he heard a lot of people say he was." I gathered that Mr. Hoover responded that this was one thing for which he could not accept responsibility, since the causes of depression were more widespread than even the powers of the President of the United States.