APRIL 23, 1953
LOS ANGELES, Wednesday—We had a certain amount of what is politely called "turbulence" on the air trip coming from New York Sunday night.
I almost missed my plane because while I waited for it to get ready I sat on the baggage counter and became very much interested in a beautiful Pekingese whose master and mistress were shipping him in a metal cage. They had to take him out and put him back a number of times while he violently protested the indignity being perpetrated on a royal dog. He would put his paws through the bars in front and try to reach whoever was nearest him while barking and almost crying. Finally the time came when he had to stay in for good, and he was borne away by the baggage man. His owners started their trip on the same plane feeling very miserable, I'm sure, for their protesting little dog.
Suddenly someone said to me, "Are you leaving on the Mercury, flight three? It has been called twice."
I rose and dashed for the gate, but I need not have hurried for the line was long, and it took time to reach the gate. Once there I made a dash through the pouring rain for the waiting plane. To my surprise when we landed here, we discovered this area evidently had had a heavy rain, something I have rarely seen in these parts.
On this trip I finished a book I have really much enjoyed. It is titled, "Persia Is My Heart," and is an autobiography by Najmeh Najafi as told to Helen Hinckley.
When you begin this book you do not think it is going to be more than just a charming story of the life of a young Persian girl. As she develops and matures, however, her thinking gives you an insight into the difficulties facing an old civilization such as that of Persia, or Iran as it is now called.
The glories of the past cloak many of the difficulties of the present and, as this child develops and sees the miseries and the sorrows of her people, she brings out a picture that impresses any visitor to these countries who has eyes to see. The rich are comfortable; the poor are hungry and barely exist. Najmeh wanted to make all the women of the villages able to have the things that women need—such as a pretty dress to make them, as she puts it, "more a woman."
So, she finally comes to the United States to study mass production, which she will have to adjust to the needs of her own country.
The position of women in Persia also was brought out very clearly and I would say this was a description that would fit most of the Near East countries, except perhaps Lebanon and, of course, Israel. In the latter two countries Western ideas very largely predominate, except among the immigrant women who hold to some of the customs they were used to in the countries from which they came.
Najmeh speaks of her pride when she refers to the time she succeeded in getting the merchant to forget she was a woman and use the tone of voice he would have used to a man. She mentions the pleasure in the discovery that her brother-in-law would treat her on the same level and respect her ideas. She uses one keenly descriptive phrase: "In my country a wife shares her husband's bed but not his life." Slowly this will change if the influence of someone like Najmeh spreads and is felt in her country. But it will not happen quickly, and in making changes these people must always guard against losing what was good in the old and acquiring what might be bad or not suited in the way of new manners and customs from other parts of the world.