MARCH 10, 1958
WASHINGTON—I received a letter the other day which I think should be read by a large audience. The situation described is that of many middle-aged people. But we should be working to eliminate such situations in this country, and I think our lawmakers and our men in public life need to have it put before them in just the terms that this simple woman has used.
Since the letter comes from Washington, it is close to the seat of our national government. It reads as follows:
"I am making a simple statement of fact. I am not begging for anything. If I lost the belief in the integrity of my own country, what would I have left?
"I am an American from way back, 1813 to be exact, and to lose faith in the goodness of my country would be to die spiritually. Yet, if thousands of middle-aged people are in the same boat we (my husband and I) are in, that's going to be what will happen. We can't let that happen; and I am sure I speak for thousands.
"I am 49. My husband is 58. We were newly married with a family during the depression. It took all we could make to send our son to school and give him the chance we didn't have. My husband loaded coal in the mines in Kentucky at 22 cents per ton, maybe getting two or three days work each week (those days). I did anything I could, from scrubbing floors to carrying the coal one quarter mile from the coal tipple to burn in a grate, helping all I could to make ends meet. But by the time the company took the house rent, the doctor the hospitalization, and all the other cuts out, we were lucky to draw $18.00 per month. Then the union came and bloodshed (yes, more than I like to think of). We lived in two-room shacks, perched up on a hillside, papered with funny papers, old newspapers and anything else one could get their hands on to keep the cold wind out. I carried my water...
"The U. S. is my country. I love it—it's sound, the foundation is my way. We must keep it that way. But there are things that must be straightened out. What about the people between forty and sixty-five years old—people just like my husband and me, who don't have enough education to cope with this age, too old and worn out by hard work to specialize or go back to school, too old and too sick to have much on the ball... I do not believe our problem is understood and I haven't the connections or power to make those in power understand."