FEBRUARY 8, 1958
TUCSON. Ariz.—I am getting more and more concerned about the plight of people living on pensions.
I have a letter, for instance, about retired Federal employes whose pensions, according to my correspondent, average $1,200 a year, and many of them have no other income whatsoever.
These people are finding it almost impossible to make ends meet, and this applies not just to retired Federal employes but to all other people who are on Social Security and pensions of any kind.
I saw somewhere the other day that the average Social Security payment is $54 a month. Unless a person gets the maximum, which might be almost double that, having enough to eat would be impossible.
I know there are bills pending in Congress to add to these pensions, but it seems to me that the government should also consider doing something to increase the food allowance for these people. This is one way surplus food can be used in this country for the benefit of our own people.
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While in Miami I heard sad tales about the conditions of the migrant workers because of the weather, and those who were concerned told me that government help was at last being brought in and truck-loads of food had arrived. But help had come very, very late and there had been much suffering before it reached the people.
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We had a smooth flight back from Miami on Wednesday afternoon, and at the luncheon given there for the ORT organization I am afraid I introduced the only serious note!
My talk was followed by a fashion show of resort clothes, bathing suits, sport clothes and afternoon cocktail dresses for warm weather. They told me that this was done largely to boost the new designing industry, which is coming into its own in Florida. These were the type of clothes designed to set the spring fashion trend for people living in colder areas.
This year, at least while I was there, everyone could have worn ordinary winter clothes with complete comfort. But the ladies who came to take me to luncheon were dressed in the smartest cotton, organdie and silk, and even when they did put on a wool sweater, it was in a bright color and decorated to look as though it were a summer accessory!
I was amused to find myself looking at a fashion show at which I was surrounded by young women who murmured at intervals, "That is what I need" or "That is what I must go and find." Not a single model showed a dress which someone who did not have a sylphlike figure could have worn, so I cannot say I was tempted by any of them!
Now I must catch up on work which, as usual, I found piled up on my return, but before I do anything else I must congratulate Dean James A. Pike of the New York Cathedral on his new post as bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of California. He will be sadly missed in New York, for he has been a strong influence in the life of that city and his courage and liberal outlook will be missed much.