AUGUST 12, 1953
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—As I mentioned a few days ago, many of my thoughts still are with the places and peoples I visited so very recently. Memories of my little incidents come to mind as I pore over my notes, and when I find something in which I feel you might be especially interested, I decide to include it in a future column.
Such is the column I would like to write today. I recalled my trip to Banja, during my stay in Belgrade, where I visited a wine cooperative. This cooperative started 50 years ago and is one of the oldest in Yugoslavia. The men own their own land and there are 120 members.
All of these men bring their grapes to the cooperative and the making of wine is done centrally. They used to make champagne, but now make only brandy and white and red wine. They hope, however, to begin making champagne again in the near future.
There were about 10 men present when I arrived, some members of the People's Council and some leaders in the cooperative. After showing me through their cellars, we sat around a table to taste wine and they also provided some excellent homemade bread, two kinds of goats' cheese, and hardboiled eggs.
As soon as we were seated they began asking questions, and the first question was about Senator McCarthy and his activities. They wanted to know if the people of the United States were losing their freedom. My answers to all questions on the McCarthy issue are, I am sure, well known by this time.
Returning from the land of the winemakers, we went for a short walk around the streets of Belgrade, streets filled with people. The shops have many things in them but it seems to me the prices were about what they would be in New York. I went into a small furrier who had skins in the window and asked him what he had that was Yugoslavian fur. He brought out a red fox and told me that a coat made of that fur would cost about $100. This is cheaper than one could have bought it wholesale in New York. But the other imported furs were practically the same price as they are here.
They must like sweets a great deal in Yugoslavia. We passed a number of candy and pastry shops and the children were always pulling away from the older people and pointing to the candy. That is not too different from what happens here on our Main Streets, is it?
A stationery shop was crowded with purchasers, and there were women looking with care over materials in shops that sold materials by the yard. While everybody was looking, I did not think there was actually much buying.
I asked one Yugoslav gentleman about the living standard of the average workingman and how much he could buy. For instance, how many hours would he have to work to buy a pair of shoes? The answer was not forthcoming, but I was told that the living standard for the workingman was still very low and approximated that of other European nations, or even Germany.
The government here is well aware of the strides Germany has made toward recovery and of the fact of poverty and lack of rebuilding in many small French towns, because it was mentioned to me frequently. The people seem to be well acquainted with what is going on in the neighboring countries.