JUNE 16, 1954
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Everything went smoothly on my trip to Brandeis University at Waltham, Mass., for the commencement exercises. I had breakfast in the station, but when Leon J. Kowal met me at 8 o'clock, I discovered he had kindly arranged for us to have breakfast at his house, so I fortified myself for the day with two breakfasts!
Mr. Kowal was in charge for a time at Quoddy, in Eastport, Maine, when it was under the National Youth Administration and he has kept his interest in that area of the world, just as I have. He and his wife and boys were a delightful family group to start the day with, and I enjoyed this little interlude more than I can say.
The eldest boy, who has been at Bowdoin College in Maine, is starting this week for London, where he will be one of the Winant volunteers working on London's east side for most of his summer holiday. This will be quite an experience for him, but he told me one of his predecessors had warned him always to keep his bags locked, so I imagine he is prepared for what he may encounter.
When I reached Brandeis University, I found that coffee and rolls were offered to those of us who were supposed to be breakfastless, but I had to decline since two breakfasts were all I could manage!
At 11 o'clock, the commencement ceremonies began. I found myself getting an honorary degree in company with some of my very favorite distinguished people: Senator Herbert H. Lehman of New York; Dr. Alvin Johnson, founder of the New School for Social Research; Dr. Buell Gallagher, president of the City College of New York; Dr. Selman Waksman of Rutgers University, discoverer of streptomycin; and Morris Shapiro, a Brandeis trustee, who has been associated with the university from its very beginning six years ago and who has contributed much to its development.
The university seems to grow by leaps and bounds, and I think one has an atmosphere of warmth and interest at the commencement exercises which I have never experienced elsewhere. Dr. Gallagher gave an outstanding address.
After a rather hurried lunch, I caught an afternoon plane back to New York.
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That evening, Mr. and Mrs. Bergson, from Columbia University, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Shapiro were kind enough to come in with one or two others and give me some information about Russia—which I sorely need before starting on my trip there.
I do not even know what the climate is like; and I was amused to find that even those who know it best had a difference of opinion as to whether I would need a thin wool suit or just cotton dresses in the daytime in Moscow in July. Such little items seem unimportant but, if you are travelling by air and can only have a limited amount of luggage, you must plan rather carefully.
I am grateful beyond words to these experienced people who were willing to give me a little of their time and knowledge.