SEPTEMBER 17, 1951
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Early last Thursday morning my grandson drove his sister, with her little boy and me, to New York City. We looked like the Swiss Family Robinson. My granddaughter had all her bags and packages in preparation for sailing on Saturday, and my grandson had put in some furniture which I had agreed to give him for his apartment in New York City, so that the back of our station wagon was filled to capacity.
Once in New York we parted company, and in the afternoon I went to a preview of a movie called "The Well." Newspaper readers will probably recall how the whole country hung on the wonderful story of a community which united in trying to rescue a little colored girl of five who had fallen into a well. By the time she is rescued, in the movie story, I doubt if anyone in the audience can remember what was the color of her skin. The writers of the script and the producers succeeded in putting that across in a most remarkable way. It is an exciting movie, filled with drama and tension. The first part of it carried, for me, a very deep lesson. It showed how quickly people can be stirred up and mass hysteria created to the point where you cannot count on anyone's actions; and then how small a thing can change the whole atmosphere so that people can again be normal, kindly and sane human beings.
This picture will be released near the end of the month, and I am sure that none of you will want to miss it. It will harrow you and perhaps make you shudder at the possible evil that lies within all of us, but it will leave you with a sense of kinship for all human beings.
Straight from the movie I went to the beautiful Riverside Church—in which I always feel Dr. Fosdick should be presiding—where representatives of the United Church Women of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America were holding their final dinner session. The theme they had given me tied together the life of the community with the larger international situation, and I tried to emphasize my view that those of us who belonged to church groups in the United States have a deep obligation to live in our communities in such a way as to furnish an example of what true democracy means in the world.
On Friday morning, with Mrs. David M. Levy, I took a plane to Boston to attend the annual board meeting of Brandeis University. The way this university grows is a marvel, and I believe the devotion of the many men and women who are interested in it will bear fruit in the enthusiasm of the students. I looked with interest at the freshmen who were already gathering, and I thought they were a very fine-looking group of young people.