APRIL 2, 1957
FEZ, Morocco—After a little dinner we ladies were allowed in the evening to join the gentlemen who had already begun, with a big group of Moroccan gentlemen, a discussion on the economic problems of the country. Some of the ladies came in late and when they were told that Mrs. Mildred Morton, who is with us, edited Vogue, they crowded around her and finally one lady went and took her dress off to give it to Mrs. Morton so she could have a sample of one of their evening dresses. Few of us will have the gold belt studded with jewels which one of the ladies wore, however. I had seen a similar one in the Jewish jewelry store but had not even asked the price as it looked so expensive.
The economic problems are the need for industry to give employment. They produce enough power for present needs but the rates are very high and the consumption low because labor is cheap and much is done by hand that could be done mechanically. Irrigation is a crying need on farms but so is rural electrification. The head of what would correspond to our Chamber of Commerce is now touring the U.S.A. to study TVA and another government official is studying our election system and government system. My fear is that everything the U.S. is too advanced and too complicated to be understood or used here.
Friday is the Moslem day of rest, but they opened a few shops for us and all of us made some purchases. We wandered again through the narrow streets and saw people dressed in their best.
In the afternoon I went to see the Sultan's palace which he had opened for us. It is well kept and ready for use with lovely gardens, the usual beautiful vistas of courts and fountains and painted ceilings and mosaic half walls and doorways and friezes. A museum occupies a large area and is interesting with coins and books, a large number of guns and swords and knives and canon. There is the usual bride dressed in her finery and sitting patiently to be visited, but one room filled with all the types of rugs made in this area I particularly enjoyed seeing. The women weave in the rainy season and they make the pattern often as they weave, without any regard for symmetry but the effect is original and good.
On the way home I visited an orphanage for boys, three hundred of them. They are arrested as vagrants and brought in feeling hostile but these in charge try to make them feel at home. The orphanage is a barn-like place, however, and it must be hard for the boys to feel any warmth. Next to the boys is the asylum for old, destitute men, and across the way the gardens and modern buldings of the insane asylum. The latter has only 67 beds which do not meet the needs of the city. The main causes of insanity are syphilis and the smoking of a rather mild kind of hashish which nevertheless seems to be harmful to the mind. This was the first city in Morocco to have an asylum many years ago, and the treatment under the law was surprisingly modern. First they administered a shock by striking a hollow stick that made much noise close to the patient. They were frightened and then soothed by music, and to this day the various orchestras play in the asylum once a week.
There are many amusing stories they tell one such as their reason for serving mint tea. Venus was annoyed at the mortal who stole Vulcan's love so she was turned into mint, and if you drink the mint you will no longer be a jealous wife!
We leave Fez early Saturday for a long day's drive to Marrakech, so we have agreed on 7:30 a.m. breakfast. Only four of us, however, will really start that early.