OCTOBER 27, 1938
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Wednesday—As we left the station yesterday morning in Cincinnati, my eye fell on one of the housing projects which I had seen partly finished on a former visit. I was leaning out to look at it when the taxi-driver said: "That's one of the Government housing projects and I live there." I promptly asked how he liked it and he responded that it was very satisfactory.
One of the first things I was taken to see this morning in Birmingham, was another housing project which I had seen just beginning when I was here before. In many of the Southern cities, the worst housing is usually occupied by the Negro population and so I was glad to find that this project was for colored people and already practically filled.
We asked a woman who came out into her yard, if we might see her house. She let us in and it seemed to me well planned and well kept. I still disagree with the housing authorities on the question of closets without doors. I know one can build more cheaply that way, but one of the reasons for having a closet is to put things in it which you do not want out in the room and which you want to keep away from dust and dirt.
We paid a brief visit to the Birmingham Southern College, took a drive up a hill from which we had a most comprehensive view of the city, and visited a WPA project where work of various kinds was being done. They have been fortunate in finding an old factory which is easy to keep clean and has plenty of light and air. The sewing rooms and the mattress making were in one building. On this project, I saw what ingenuity can accomplish. Lately no mattress ticking has been forthcoming from their sponsors, so since they have received a great number of old army coats, these have been ripped, washed and sewed together to make really very serviceable mattresses.
The weaving is exceptionally good. I saw a woven linen dress with some block printing as decoration, and various couch throws and pieces of material which made me feel that these women would be able to earn their own livings before long.
Under the sponsorship of the public schools a bookbinding project has been going on which has put a great many books into use. Men and women were working together on a project for renovating furniture which seemed to me most interesting. They were making over old ice-boxes to serve as cabinets. Rooms which they set up with kitchen, bedroom and sitting room furniture, would have done credit to a department store.
There is a big gathering of Democratic women here today and it has drawn a number of important Democrats to Birmingham. I was happy to be able to greet them all at luncheon.