FEBRUARY 5, 1958
MIAMI—We left New York last Saturday two hours late and in a snowstorm. We arrived in Tampa, Fla., still two hours late, but while the wind was blowing at 40 miles an hour in Florida, it was certainly warmer than in New York. This is a cold winter in Northern Florida, however, and everyone complains.
We reached Sarasota in ample time for dinner. My uncle, David Gray, is disgusted with his winter climate, and I think he wishes that he had installed a furnace in his house when he built it. He had the foresight, however, to put a fireplace in every room, so only the corridors are cold. The rooms, at least the smaller ones, are well heated by a delightful open wood fire and I love the smell and the looks of it.
My cousin, Nancy Milholland, and her husband are spending the winter with Mr. Gray, and I think they are all finding it very pleasant, though the fiction that this is summer weather is sustained only by the fact that on the sheltered patio of the house down on the water the roses and the petunias are still blooming vigorously and when the sun does shine, you can sit in it and be warm and feast your eyes on the bravely blooming flowers.
Of course, everyone has told us of the frost which did so much harm to the fruit crops and the vegetables, and on every hand I am told that the migrant farm and orchard workers are now undergoing hardships here. Their quarters are not equipped for cold weather, and as they have no work, they are badly off for food. I imagine that as a rule this is the most stable employment period of their whole year, and to have it disrupted means there are no reserves for clothing, medical care or any type of recreation.
I spent one delightful morning listening to a string quartet play Mozart. Two of the members are responsible for organizing an orchestra in Sarasota, with one of them as the conductor, but they get together as a quartet just for their own pleasure. It is a pleasure not only for them, but for anyone who is allowed to come and listen, for they are real musicians.
There are, of course, a few young people living down here, with a chance for them to work and educate their children, but most of the people have come here to retire and live out their remaining years in greater comfort and peace than they had in other parts of the country.
If they have talents, they have more time to enjoy them, and you find musicians and painters making life both productive and gracious. But as you look at the endless number of trailer parks and small homes, you wonder whether everyone is better off uprooted than they would be at home in familiar surroundings. I suppose they think so, however, or they would not come in such great numbers.
I find Mr. Gray's house and his garden delightful, but for the most part the Florida landscape does not appeal to me. Much of it is brown and the constant building and development of land provides an unfinished effect. But this is a constantly growing community and it seems probable that there are more Northerners than Southerners in Florida.
Just because of the cold here, one is forced to think of food, and I was reminded that on February 24 there will be held in Washington, D.C., a National Food Conference which President Eisenhower will open.
This conference is sponsored by the major farm and food organizations and its purpose is to focus attention on the necessity for good nutrition. Even in this country, many of our people lack a well-balanced diet, partly through ignorance.
At one end of the scale we are the best-fed nation in the world and at the other end of the scale we have people who are very poorly fed and who lack proteins, vitamins and minerals in their diet. This is especially harmful to children. And the poor diets are to be found in rural as well as urban families and at every income level.