MARCH 17, 1953
SARASOTA, Fla., Monday—One very impressive thing about Florida is the rapidity with which everything grows. My Uncle, R. David Gray, told me yesterday morning that he spent much of his time cutting things out. He planted with his own hands practically everything growing around his house and across the little stream except for a few old trees.
The amount of "made" land here is what surprises me. Dredging seems to be going on all the time, making more and more land. I must say the amount of settlements seems to justify it.
What impresses me most, however, is how many people there must be in this country who are able to spend half the year away from their home base. In addition, there are many more people who still have active businesses going on but are able to be away from them for a good part of the year. Others prefer this climate or find it somewhat cheaper to live in and decide to settle here and earn their living. Many seem to do it very successfully. A man at the airport on Saturday told us that families with children are able to save on a great many things here, such as winter clothes, oil or coal to heat a house, and food. Food is cheaper here than in the North.
Being the home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, Sarasota makes one very conscious of the Ringling family and their homes. The dinner for the Israel bond drive, which I attended on Sunday night, was held in the Ringling Hotel. The room in which we had dinner had trapezes, which may be let down from the ceiling, and stunts are performed as seen in the circus.
To my surprise I learned yesterday that the Ringling Museum down here has as its curator a gentleman who used to be at the Hartford, Connecticut museum. I also learned that this museum has a very good collection of a certain period of art.
Sarasota has become a center for artists. There are some 20 art schools going full tilt and practically everybody is trying to learn to paint. There is also a good orchestra, so this city has become a cultural center. A policeman was pointed out to me while we were riding through town and I was told he is a very good actor and played in the community plays.
One seems very far out of the current of world affairs down here, and while we listen to the radio news reports and read a local paper, I still feel I know very little about current events.
I had a press conference on Sunday afternoon and was asked the usual question: What did I think Stalin's death would mean and had I any prophecies to make as to Malenkov's regime?
Naturally I said I was no prophet. It seems to me we shall just have to wait and watch developments.
The death of President Klement Gottwald of Czechoslovakia leaves one with a curious sense that it is not healthy to pay visits to Moscow. Either while there or on your return strange things seem to happen. One wonders who will be the next puppet in Czechoslovakia and whether the people will be better or worse off than before.