MARCH 18, 1953
SARASOTA, Fla., Tuesday—My son John and his wife appeared here Sunday afternoon on their way home after a two-weeks holiday at Boca Grande. They loved every minute there and described it as a marvelous place for rest and quiet. Both looked properly tanned, and I am sure both will hate the return to a busy and harried New York City existence. They left about noon on Monday for Tampa, hoping to catch an afternoon plane home, but still uncertain as to whether they had accommodations.
My uncle, R. David Gray, asked Karl Bickel, who once was my boss as head of United Press, to bring two of the local Democratic politicians to lunch on Monday. I think my uncle wanted to persuade the two local politicians that I was not quite the rabid and unreasonable person that he felt sure they believed me to be. It turned out to be a very pleasant luncheon and I enjoyed the gentlemen very much.
They have a peculiar situation politically here. There is a registration of somewhere around 11,000 Democrats as against 4,000 or so Republicans; yet, President Eisenhower carried the county by a very comfortable margin. Those in the know explain this by saying that there has been a tremendous influx of people from the Middle West who now live here and who are normally Republicans. They register as Democrats so as to have something to say in filling the local positions. But, regardless of registration, on the national ticket they vote Republican. Ordinarily, a Republican has little chance of election to a local office here, and so the party does not always get the ablest candidates.
The people seemed to have voted with some selectivity last November, though, because in two local offices where the incumbents were outstanding they kept two Democrats in office, but the rest of the offices—from President Eisenhower down to dog catcher—went to Republicans. That was a shock in a community where they have really fought within the Democratic party but never considered that a second party existed.
Now the Democrats here are confronted with the need of actually organizing down to the precincts, and they are appalled at the prospect. I comforted them, I hope, by saying the same situations faced the Democratic party not only in upstate New York but even in the five boroughs of New York City, and perhaps it would be healthy to have this incentive for choosing good candidates and making a really good campaign.
There is one amusing situation here: people are in great need of domestic servants. Colored people have always filled these positions, but the white population has increased so much more rapidly than the colored population that there simply are not enough colored people to meet the needs, regardless of what wages or what living conditions are offered. They would like to attract more colored people to the area. Already 60 modern houses have been constructed for their use, and another 100 are being planned. This hardly seems adequate to me, however; I would say the population of the city had increased by the thousands, not by the hundreds.