SEPTEMBER 9, 1959
NEW YORK—Here I am back after nine interesting days in Puerto Rico. They were interesting to me because for the first time since I can remember I did no work at all! In fact, on many days I did nothing except swim, sit in the sun and read. I slept more than I have slept in years and altogether it was a thoroughly successful holiday.
On three days I looked about the island with an old friend of mine, Adrian Dornbush, who, many years ago when Rex Tugwell went to Puerto Rico as governor, went down to try out some plans for using native materials and developing native hand skills. Mr. Dornbush never returned to his old home and now runs a little factory of his own in Puerto Rico.
He loves the island almost like a native and he speaks Spanish fluently, though, being a Dutchman, I doubt if he will ever develop the way of talking which is prevalent among the Puerto Ricans. They speak so fast that they run their words together and often drop the endings. While I could understand Mr. Dornbush's Spanish I could not understand his Puerto Rican friend, a Mr. Rivera, when we stopped to ask directions on the road.
We could never have had such a delightfully quiet and peaceful time if we had not been told about Mr. Laurence Rockefeller's Dorado Beach Hotel, in Dorado, 20 miles from San Juan. The way it is laid out is perfect for privacy and pleasure. The golf course is one of the best in the world, they told me. Since I do not play, I have to accept that from somebody else's testimony, but I can say that it is very beautiful.
The beach houses are practically soundproof and we looked straight out on the ocean. One can swim with safety in the areas marked along the beach, and the pool is very large and a marvelous place for young and old alike. Puerto Ricans come on Saturdays and Sundays as members of the beach club in fairly large numbers, and they are wonderful with their children, taking infinite pains to teach them to swim and dive. Youngsters four years old dive off the high diving board and come up to warm applause from their parents, which is, of course, what every child needs.
For only the three days mentioned above did I excursion in Puerto Rico itself. One day we drove into San Juan, an hour's drive from the hotel, and I would hardly have known it was the city I visited first in 1934 and it was not even as I remembered it in 1944 when I went back for a brief visit.
Suddenly hotels that remind me of Miami have mushroomed everywhere. The numerous housing developments, particularly those done by the government for low-income families, are very much to be welcomed. And I am sure that the enormous increase in tourist trade which has brought about the hotel building will bring money into the islands which is much needed.
Tomorrow I want to write a little about my other two excursions, which made me think a little about the problems of Puerto Ricans in this country and our own lack of understanding in meeting those problems.