MARCH 9, 1939
BEAUMONT, Texas, Wednesday—During the pilgrimage, there is certainly a friendly, cooperative spirit in Natchez, Mississippi. A rift has come among some the ladies and so two pilgrimages are carried on, which makes the period for seeing the houses extend over several weeks. On the whole, this is probably an advantage to the place itself. The Democratic National Committee Women expressed every hope that the entire period would be successful. I felt that men, women and children were ready and glad to work together, in spite of rifts, for success which means so much to their city.
The atmosphere in the hotel is more than friendly, and the little waitress dressed in her pink Colonial costume and cap, was as interested as anyone I met. She confided in me, however, that they were having the busiest possible time and I am sure her off duty hours were much restricted. The Negro boy who carried the trays for her must also work long hours during this pilgrimage period, yet he too was cheerful, pleasant and interested.
In the evening, after my lecture, we went to a beautiful old house which is used as a club house and where for a short time a reception was held. Then we went back to the theatre, where a special performance was given of the Confederate Ball Tableaux. I was amused to find one of the reporters who had interviewed me in the morning, appearing in a schoolmaster's suit and tall hat. The stage, the dancing and the costumes were all charming and really beautiful. The participants are amateurs, but their work is on a professional level in most cases. Even when little two-year-olds take part, they seem to catch the spirit and are as well behaved and demure as any older actor.
We left the hotel this morning at 7:30 and our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Kendall, drove us to Baton Rouge, La. On the way we stopped at Southern University, Scotland, La. I had a wire from Mrs. Bethune of the NYA, as well as one from the president of the school, asking me to try to stop, for it would only take me a short distance off our road. They have some very good looking buildings and are putting up some new ones. The faces of the colored boys and girls were bright and happy. Judging from a board on which subjects of study were printed, I should say that this institution must be doing a great deal for the education of Negro youth and raising the standards of living.
We stopped for a minute at the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge, and the Governor's secretary, Mr. David Ellison, and his wife greeted us. Mrs. Herzberg, whom we remembered as an excellent housekeeper when we were here before, urged us to have breakfast. It was a great temptation, but unfortunately our train was leaving too soon to allow us anything more than a cup of coffee. We were sorry not to be able to see Governor and Mrs. Leche, but glad to hear that he is recovering from his long illness.
Everywhere one sees high water and in one or two places I wonder that people dare to build houses, for it looks as though the water might easily come to the top of the levee and wash down over it. Perhaps, however, they have few possessions and evacuating their homes does not present insurmountable difficulties.
Now we are on the train bound for Beaumont, Texas.