JANUARY 9, 1957
SARASOTA, Fla.—Mrs. Eugene Meyer celebrated her 70th birthday last Saturday evening in Washington and I was particularly happy to be able to be there.
It is interesting that, as you grow older, sometimes you have the good fortune to outgrow some of the misunderstandings of your youth and to learn the real values of people.
Mrs. Meyer (author and wife of the chairman of the board of the Washington Post and Times-Herald) and I started off not only on opposite sides of the political fence but we thought our philosophies of life were completely different.
It took us a good many years to learn about each other, but gradually we acquired respect and then a real and deep affection, and friendship grew between us. We were working for the same things. Our objectives were the same and I am now proud that I can call Agnes Meyer one of my real friends.
Many of us were gathered together at her house on Saturday night and we came as people representing interests and tastes of many different kinds. But we all were there to express our warm affection and admiration for a woman who has worked and lived and learned all through her life. I, for one, hope and pray that she may keep her strength and her vitality, for the country needs the mind and heart of Agnes Meyer.
Through the years I have come to know some of her children and I find that those I know even a little bring out a warm feeling and I want to know them better. I always hope that this is the way my friends will feel about my children. And because I have been able to build friendships with younger people, I always approach the younger generation with the hope that here I am going to find another friend and new interests and new insights into the future through these young eyes.
In one of our metropolitan newspapers the other morning there was a disquieting story from Naples, Italy, where a group of Jewish refugees from Egypt landed on January 6.
We have been told by the Egyptian government that the Jews were not being forced to leave Egypt, but in answer to that we heard rumors that if they were not being forced to leave, they were being denied means of making a living.
This, in the long run, will force one to leave any country, since people must have shelter and be able to feed and clothe themselves. And if they are not allowed to work or have any money or business interests, their ability to sustain themselves becomes small, indeed.
In this newspaper story, however, descriptions of some of the methods used by the Egyptian police would bear out some of the rumors that have been coming from that country. These refugees said they were beaten to obtain written pledges that they would never return, while those who had been born in Egypt were asked to renounce their citizenship. As a result, the vast majority of them arrived as stateless persons.
Before leaving Egypt they were detained in camps and prisons under what they described as "appalling conditions." The International Red Cross agent in Cairo accompanied them on the rickety steamer which his organization had chartered for the four-day trip from Alexandria to Naples, but I suppose it would be unwise for the International Red Cross to either confirm or deny these stories.