DECEMBER 19, 1942
WASHINGTON, Friday—Last night I had the pleasure of having Mr. Earl Robinson come down from New York City to play us a new composition. One of his favorite themes is Abraham Lincoln, and this has a haunting quality and is a stirring and stimulating composition.
Later, we all went over to the Stage Door Canteen, which is scarcely a stone's throw from the White House, being in the old Belasco Theatre. Miss Antoinette Perry, Miss Helen Menken, Mr. Milton Berle and various other artists were making a great success of the evening for the soldiers. I took part in a broadcast, listened to Earl Robinson sing some songs, in which the audience could join in the chorus, heard Mr. Alexander Woollcott and another laugh to the many which Mr. Berle had already elicited, and then came home to an hour's chat with Mr. Woollcott in my sitting room.
He is a most delightful guest, even though a most distracting one, because one would like to steal more time out of one's busy day to talk with him and to listen to him. He gave me today a page from a magazine, in which he describes a wedding present given a young couple separated by the war.
Of course, what he has done is to give thousands of such young couples, to parents and children, and to friends, an unforgettable suggestion. In this particular case, the girl told him: "Right now we have to build our marriage on paper, so letters overflow my bureau drawers and have to be stored downstairs in my trunk."
Then he finds the perfect paragraph: "Let those who may complain, remember that only on paper has humanity yet achieved beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue and abiding love."
This morning I met with a group of Latin-American gentlemen who are here studying agro-economics and who faced me with some pretty difficult problems, which I attempted to answer as truthfully as possible. They seemed to me somewhat in the unanswerable field, because when you are asked what a nation such as ours may do in the future, you are guessing pure and simple. You can only state your hopes and determination to try to make those hopes come true.
I had the pleasure, too, of seeing Begum Shah Nawaz and learning a little of what she is trying to do in the health and education fields for the women and children of Punjab. It is hard to believe that she lived hidden behind a veil until the age of twenty-four. The women of India have certainly come a long way in the last few years.