JUNE 8, 1940
NEW LONDON, Conn., Friday—Yesterday afternoon I visited the Red Hook Housing Project in Brooklyn, N. Y., and enjoyed seeing the various apartments and having the opportunity to talk with some of the people living there. Of course, the ultimate object of any housing project is to have satisfied tenants. Our first visit was to an apartment with two bedrooms, kitchen, sitting room and bath. The young couple had two children and the wife's mother with them. The man is a longshoreman with only intermittent days of work. The girl seemed proud and happy and she had acquired many possessions which she showed me with pride. Her mother brought out a plate of little cakes and some little glasses and poured out some homemade wine which she offered to us all. We drank to their health and happiness and we wished for them the steady job on which so much depends. Little enough to ask of life and yet often impossible to attain.
Our next family was in a larger three bedroom, sitting room, kitchen and bath apartment. They had four children and the man was on WPA. Our last apartment was one of the very small one bedroom, sitting room, kitchen and bath type. The young couple who lived there, had had the sad experience of losing their first baby, but the young woman's mother, who was visiting her, told me happily what a change this new apartment meant in her life.
These apartments seemed to me very well-planned. All of them have eliminated unnecessary doors. The kitchen, for instance, has no door, neither has the living room. The bedroom, bathroom and one closet have doors. The other closets are recessed with curtains. The landscaping around the houses is attractive, and scattered around the project are eight small playgrounds for children. This is in a part of Brooklyn where Park Commissioner Robert Moses has built one of the best swimming pools I have ever seen and which was being used to full capacity yesterday. Nearby, there is also a great deal of play space for older children in a park area. One feature which is particularly interesting, is the placing of the community house in one corner of the project. Here it is available not only to those living on the project, but to the neighborhood all around it.
As is so often the case, before anyone moved in, there were innumerable stories spread about the restrictions put on the individuals and the rules and regulations which would govern everybody's daily existence. It is easy to spread this sort of rumor when something new is being done. As a result, the tenants came very largely from Manhattan and now the people nearby see "foreigners from Manhattan" living in better quarters, which they might well have occupied themselves. I hope that someday everyone can live in quarters which are as pleasant as these, if for no reason than that it will cost the taxpayers less and that the next generation will be healthier.
We left Brooklyn at 4:40 and drove to Westbrook, Conn., to dine and spend the night with our friends, Miss Esther Lape and Miss Elizabeth Read. The Merritt Parkway makes a difference in the time this drive consumes and we were here by 8:00 o'clock. After an early lunch today, we shall drive on to Boston, where I hope to reach the hospital when Johnny returns from work, so he can show me their new baby. Seeing a new grandchild is always an exciting experience.