JULY 3, 1954
HYDE PARK, Friday—On the morning of Thursday, July 1, the day I was to have started my trip to the Soviet Union under the sponsorship of Look Magazine, I held a press conference, at which TV was also represented, and explained why the editors of Look and I had come to the conclusion that I must cancel the trip.
To repeat what I told you in my preceding column, we had made application, over 90 days ago, for visas for myself, for my secretary and for Look's European editor, Mr. William Attwood, whose assistance I would need on the trip. When no visa was obtained for Mr. Attwood, Look applied for one for another of its men, Mr. Whitman Bassow, thinking that his name might be more acceptable to the Russians. Nothing came through, so the trip was cancelled at the last minute. I explained all this at the press conference on the morning of July 1.
That afternoon, at 3:30, I reached my office at the American Association for the United Nations to be told that a message had just come through saying that Mr. Bassow could have a visa. How the Soviet Union expected Mr. Bassow to get this visa, pack for a trip he had not intended to take, and then catch a plane at 4 p.m. was a little difficult to understand!
In any case, by that time, our tickets had all been cancelled and it would have taken several days to make new traveling arrangements. I phoned Look and we decided that, for this year at least, the trip was definitely cancelled and must remain cancelled. I will not again be free of commitments until next spring, and I do not know that the magazine will be interested in sponsoring a trip at that time.
I am sorry about this change of plans, for it would have been extremely interesting to have a chance to see something of Russia and its people.
I always like people, and there might be a chance that, if one looked at a country objectively, one could see things in the light of history which would make one understand better the attitude taken even by a government which, on the whole, seems difficult for us to understand.
I must say I am a little mystified by the workings of the Soviet Government, which gives you something but which gives it so late that you can't possibly make use of it! The ways of the Soviet Government always seem to be mysterious.
For the time being, however, I rejoice that I have a whole month in which I can do as I please. I came up to Hyde Park Thursday afternoon with a rejoicing family and two very happy little dogs!