NOVEMBER 10, 1959
DE KALB, Ill.—Last Thursday evening, after a delightful dinner given in honor of Miss Helen Ferris, who is retiring as editor of the Junior Literary Guild, I took a plane to San Francisco to join my colleagues of the American Association for the United Nations in a regional meeting for which the Northern California Regional Council of the AAUN was host.
I had a peaceful night on the plane and arrived feeling fresh and wideawake, but was horrified to find that Mr. Frederic Cromwell and Mrs. Claire Harrison had both arisen at dawn and come out to meet me. They consoled me by saying that they had had a specially good breakfast at the airport while they waited for my plane, which was a little late.
This was one of our regional meetings—the third held this autumn, and the largest. Only two states in the region were unable to send representatives—Alaska and Hawaii. We have a good chapter in Hawaii, but the trip would have been too much for a one-day meeting, and Alaska is only beginning to form its chapter. The other states are: California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. All had representatives present—some rather large contingents—so that our meeting had some 75 to 80 members.
After Mr. Clark Eichelberger and I had breakfast with members of the national board who live in the Pacific Coast area, our first meeting of the day was for state presidents and chapter representatives at 10 a.m., and at it we discussed problems as they arise in the different states.
Almost every state has to meet some opposition from people who have not yet decided to accept the existence and value of the United Nations. Some chapters have difficulties with schools. Others in states that have only a few big cities and vast areas of sparsely populated country face the problem of finding the things that will keep everybody interested once they have become members.
Our prime objective, of course, is to see that as many people as possible in the United States know about the U.N. and its specialized agencies, understand the work that is done day in and day out, and be convinced of the ultimate objective, which is a peaceful world. Our members must also be ready to meet the attacks that are leveled sometimes at the U.N. as a whole and sometimes at one of the specialized agencies or some particular activity of the organization.
For instance, at the moment UNICEF is being attacked. It seems incredible that anyone would attack work being done to feed and provide medical care for children in any area of the world. Someone decided, however, that Communists had infiltrated and certain Communist children were being fed. To the average American, I am sure that a hungry child, if it lives in a Communist country or not, should be fed. If it is ill, it should be cared for. But some of our most respectable ladies have decided that this is dangerous for our own future—and often when ladies decide something, men follow suit.
I hope this particular attack will shortly evaporate. But it is annoying to have to contend with such a stupid outlook. It is doubly annoying to those who want to interest young people in doing something constructive and hope through the young people's interest to reach the hearts and minds of some of the older people.
We had a good morning session and then Mrs. Henry Grady organized a luncheon with her usual remarkable ability. She achieved the greatest success and there were more people clamoring for tickets than there were seats! Finally, everyone seemed to find a place and Mr. Eichelberger and I both spoke at the lunch. Mr. Eichelberger gave a brief but very clear statement on the issues before the present session at the U.N. This is one of the valuable things that our organization can do, since we are so close to the work that is going on at the U.N. at all times.
After lunch I looked in for a minute at the meeting with representatives of nongovernmental organizations and at a meeting devoted to questions on how to increase our membership. Then I ran away and with one of my colleagues, Miss Estelle Linzer, went to two of my favorite shops—Gumps and Suez Chong in Chinatown.
At our evening meeting we discussed policy and program, and then on Saturday morning I started back toward New York.