NOVEMBER 7, 1959
SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday night of this past week I went to the opening of Dore Schary's play, "The Highest Tree," and, to me, this was an extremely courageous play and well acted.
While some of the criticisms I have seen are justified, on the whole it was rather a relief to be asked to think through an evening rather than just be entertained. The family on the stage was an ordinary family in the medium-income bracket and with all the troubles, prejudices, joys and sorrows of any other family. Basically, these situations exist in every income bracket. It is only that the surroundings are different.
Now, if you are trying to avoid these situations at home you will probably resent having them presented to you on the stage, but to be made to consider where you stand on the effect of radiation is something we all really need.
At the present time most of us are forgetting about the real problems that confront us and which could conceivably wipe out the human race—and do it in a most unpleasant manner. There would be no sudden stroke to accomplish this end, but it would be done through disease and slow decay.
It is important for us to have this problem set before us through an evening—a problem on which we are going to have to make a decision. And having it on our minds will make the United Nations debates and the meetings of the 10-nation commission to study world disarmament not just something that affects an impersonal government but which affects our daily lives.
My warm thanks, therefore, go to Mr. Schary for having had the courage to produce such a play.
On Wednesday afternoon I went to the opening of an exhibit of unusually rare and splendid Japanese robes and screens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The display and showing has been titled "An Aristocracy of Robes."
I happen to be enormously interested in Japanese screens and at this exhibit I saw some unbelievably beautiful ones. One very rare but well-known one, which has purple irises adorning it, made me think of a lovely garden outside Tokyo that has a running stream at the bottom of a little hill and thousands and thousands of irises in full bloom. This is one of the sights I carry in my mind and it constantly recurs when I think of Japan.
And there were many other screens that I would like to have enjoyed examining day after day, for that is the real way to come to know a Japanese screen. There is always something new to be found, it seems—something you realize you never saw before.
I want to take this opportunity to bring to my readers' attention the Silver Anniversary Portfolio of Christmas Cards published by the American Artists Group, Inc. These come to me every year and are most beautiful, but this year they seem particularly delightful.