NOVEMBER 18, 1958
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—On Wednesday night last, the first of my two-day visit to Mexico City, we finally got to bed at 1 a.m., much later than my usual retiring hour. But it seems to be the custom in Mexico to stay up late at night and to get up early in the morning. Our Ambassador, Mr. Robert C. Hill, told me that the Embassy staff is at the office between 8 and 8:30 every morning, so on Thursday morning they gathered on the lawn and I greeted them at 8:30. By 9 o'clock I was on my way to see an old friend, the present foreign minister, Padillo Nervo, and this was a pleasure for me, but my visit had to be brief.
Then the Youth Aliyah Committee escorted me to a very fine Jewish school for youngsters, which has classes from kindergarten through high school. There are several such schools in Mexico City, for there is a big Jewish community there. Representatives from all the other schools were on hand and we had a stirring ceremony in the courtyard where a few of the school bands played. I raised their flag and they saluted it. Then a group of girls gave a charming musical dance drill.
By 11 a.m. we reached the National University of Mexico, which is largely government-supported, but is nevertheless a free and autonomous university with colleges of engineering, medicine, law and other schools.
The rector of the university, Dr. Nabor Carrillo, is a most interesting and able man who has just successfully lived through a student strike directed against the local bus line. The students had captured 300 of the buses and parked them on the university grounds. Under the Mexican constitution these grounds may not be entered by either police or soldiers, and so it was moral authority that finally persuaded the students to return the buses to the bus company and to try to settle their differences in a different way. The strike is against the threat of a raised bus fare, even though the students are exempted from the increase.
This must have seemed a rather threatening challenge to the university administration, for until Dr. Carrillo took office the university had had no head who remained in office much over a year, and now there has been continuity in the control of the university for over six years.
So, you see why I say the rector is an exceptional and interesting man. He also is a scientist of international repute.
From the University City section I went with Mr. George Wise to call on the newly elected President, Adolfo Lopez Mateos, who takes office on December 1. Mrs. Hill, our Ambassador's wife, joined me and we had an interesting talk with the President-elect. I found myself thinking of many of the problems facing both Mexico and the United States, and I should like to write about them in a later column.
I lunched with Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Zielan in their delightful home and spoke briefly to a small group there.
Then, on the way back to the Embassy, I laid a wreath on the monument to the young boys who died in Mexico's fight for freedom. I was told I was the second American to do this; President Truman was the only other American who has paid his respects at this monument.
After a short rest at the Embassy, Ambassador and Mrs. Hill, Minister and Mrs. Gray, and I stood in line to receive many Americans, many representatives from other nations, and many Mexicans. It was a brilliant and very delightful reception, and here I again met the wife of the Mayor of Monterrey. She had been so kind to us when my husband and I were there years ago, and her interpreter was the same one who interpreted for us on that visit.
Finally, at 9 o'clock, with my Youth Aliyah Committee I was on my way back to the Jewish Sports Center for a mass meeting at which I again spoke on Youth Aliyah.
This ended my responsibilities for this trip. There was little time to see the city except as one sees its beauty driving through it. But I had experienced the warmth and kindness of its people and I can never be grateful enough for all their gifts, the flowers that they sent me, and the books and many kind messages I received.