FEBRUARY 20, 1956
URBANA, Ill.—The meeting in River Forest, Ill., was very successful and everyone was most kind and hospitable. The pleasantest thing that occurred in Chicago, however, was the few minutes I was able to spend Wednesday afternoon, after the matinee and before leaving for my meeting, with Mr. and Mrs. Melvyn Douglas.
Helen arrived first. Melvyn, fearful that they would miss me, had her go to the Blackstone hotel, where I am staying, ahead of him. I was anxious to hear news of them both and of both their children.
The boy is married now and has had a most serious operation, from which he fortunately has recovered. But the little girl, who was a personality even when she came to stay with her mother in the White House at the age of five, is now 17 years old and finding out what it is like to be all alone on the Vermont farm in winter 10 miles from her neighbors.
How long she will be there no one knows, but it is good now and then to be close to nature and struggle with the elements rather than with other human beings.
The trip to Champaign Thursday morning was quick and comfortable and we were met by four students. I was to speak that night to the Hillel Foundations and they had planned a busy day. A few photographers and newspaper people met us at the station, and one woman reporter whom I recognized asked me for news of Mrs. Mary Baker, who used to live here.
The first query was whether I had seen a statement by Governor Mennen Williams on the desegregation question, and whether I would comment on it. Not having seen the statement, I did not want to comment.
At 12 noon however, I prepared to see more newspaper people. At 12:15 Mrs. Olive Goldman, whom I first knew when she was a delegate on the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations joined with us for luncheon. And there were other appointments that completely filled the afternoon.
They promised me that I would be back in the hotel by 4 o'clock so I would be ready to leave at 5:30 for dinner and for the evening meeting.
I think perhaps university students can keep one as busy as any group of people for whom one might be speaking.
I found a letter here begging us to come just around the corner and visit the library in our spare time and the librarian kindly sent us a book of short stories to read in our spare moments. She said we may leave it at the desk when we are through with it.
This is kind and considerate if you have any spare time and if you do not have so much reading material that you accumulate during busy days that you carry it back and forth on trips, never quite managing to finish it.