FEBRUARY 23, 1957
NEW YORK—In the March Ebony Magazine there is a rather delightful story about Sylvester Harris who still lives on a farm in Columbus, Mississippi, and still has a mule named Jesse which is the name of the mule he is supposed to have ridden into town in the depression years and according to the legend put in a direct call to the President in order to save his farm. He says the truth is he did not ride the mule but got into an old truck which managed to get him into Columbus, Mississippi. They told him it would cost $4.80 to call the President and he stacked the nickels and quarters before him in the public telephone booth before picking up the telephone to call the President. Every time a secretary or an assistant would answer he insisted he would talk with no one but the President. He was about to lose his mule, Jesse, and his farm and he must talk to the President. He finally got the President and two days later appraisers came, went over his land, got him a government loan at the Federal Land Bank of New Orleans which satisfied the mortgage, and overnight he and his mule became a symbol of hope to the "forgotten men" of that day. He is 65 now and has a modern farm with a tractor, cultivators and trailers. His old mule Jesse is dead but he has two new ones. His home has electricity, a refrigerator, a radio and a washing machine and two TV sets and he cooks by gas. When people say that it isn't worth helping people who are in trouble because they would not be in trouble if they really had what it takes to be a success, I like to remember the story of Sylvester Harris.
A gentleman in Texas asked me the other day if giving economic aid to people in countries which did not seem able to get along by themselves had any value, and I told him that without the aid these people would go on being helpless but with it we might see miracles occur. He looked very doubtful and I wish now I had told him the story of Sylvester Harris.
There is an interesting book for children which I have just been sent called "Introducing Children to the World in Elementary and Junior High Schools" by Leonard S. Kenworthy and published by Harpers. The author has travelled in 60 countries and was the first head of the UNESCO division on Education for International Understanding. In addition he has 20 years of teaching back of him, so he is well fitted, I think, to present ways by which we can acquaint children with the world. He likes to stress the fact that he is talking about children who will live in the year 2020!
As long as we are talking of writers, I might tell you about a project carried on in the Social Service Field by the Theta Sigma Phi Alumnae. One of their members started helping veterans in veterans hospitals to do some creative writing and now 250 women in the organization are working with veterans from coast to coast helping them to learn how to write creatively.