OCTOBER 9, 1959
TULSA, Okla. —We got away from our hotel at a comfortable hour on Wednesday morning and drove from Emporia into Kansas City, Mo., along the Kansas Thruway. The speed limit on this highway is 80 miles an hour, so one can progress rather rapidly. I think the people are wisest, however, if they don't drive any faster than 70, as we did.
All thruways are the same—somewhat monotonous to drive on. If you can watch the scenery as you drive by, of course, you can find great differences and much beauty. The sunset, for instance, on Tuesday evening was quite dramatic—dark clouds and gold edges spreading out from the central sun as it sank below the horizon. But if your mind is just on the road, as it must be if you keep a steady speed, I think the danger on the thruways is of falling asleep, so it is much better not to drive alone.
We reached the airport in plenty of time to be told by Braniff that our plane was half an hour late. Fortunately for us, it was no later than that, and we got on and had a very comfortable trip into Tulsa. Our view of the flooded districts was excellent, but around our hotel and in the parts of the city we have seen there is no sign of the flood whatsoever.
Here I am speaking to a Jewish Community Council on Israel and so my audience is more or less restricted to this group, but they tell me that the Negro Chamber of Commerce wanted so much to have me come and meet with them, if only for 10 minutes, that the synagogue has opened its doors to this group also.
One of the great difficulties on these trips is that so many groups would like you to spend just five minutes or 10 minutes or "just look in" on them. They don't seem to realize that this would give one no time for rest or to prepare for the lecture one has come to give.
There seems always to be the inevitable press conference, and today there was one TV program and two other groups that wanted interviews as well as the two newspaper representatives and a group of journalism students from the high school. I got through rather quickly, however, as most of the radio and TV questions were identical.
Sitting in the waiting room in Kansas City, and, in fact, I find this true now wherever I stay for more than a few minutes, the desire for autographs was quickly manifested. It used to be that people would only ask apologetically for their children or grandchildren but now they ask for themselves without shame.
I was reminded of the movie star with whom I once commiserated when I saw him surrounded by autograph seekers. He said: "Yes, it is a nuisance, but there is only one thing I would mind more and that is if they didn't want it."
Being 75 years old and having spent most of my life in the public eye and having met a great many people, I suppose I must expect that some would want to come up and remind me of when we last met. Sometimes it is a real thrill, too, as it was when a young man wrote me a note from across an aisle, saying, "I served with your son in the raider battalion in World War II. He was a grand commander and so was Carlson." That gave me a thrill and I passed it on to Jimmy with great joy and pride.