JUNE 5, 1950
NEW YORK, Sunday—I had planned at first to write this column on Sunday morning from Oslo, Norway. A trip by air from here to Oslo might possibly be delayed, however, and so I am writing this on Saturday morning just before we leave from Idlewild airport.
Friday was the usual "day-before-you-leave," when you try to remember all of the things you have forgotten to do and do all the things you should have done beforehand. What always takes me longest is getting thoroughly cleaned up before I start. Feet, teeth, hair and nails—all have to be attended to; and the older I grow, the more necessary I realize this care is and the less interest I have in it because the results seem so unsatisfactory!
I took my grandson and his bride to meet my old friend, John Golden at luncheon. In the evening a few of us dined together and went to see a preview of a movie which Dore Schary has just made and which will be released during the summer.
While my teeth were being attended to, I sat looking out an 18th-floor window at a group of workmen at their tasks on the steel framework of a new building under construction. Some manipulated the big cranes, and opposite my level were men putting the girders in place. How much we usually take for granted about the work of our fellow human beings! Somehow I had always thought of these huge skyscrapers as they are when finished, and had never before seen the skilled work and calm courage that goes into putting up the framework. Just walking across from one beam to another is an amazing acrobatic feat of balance, with sure death below if you lose your head for a minute. The workers don't wear belts and are not hooked to anything, yet they behave just as though theirs was any ordinary occupation with the ordinary risks which all of us take in our daily work.
I have long known what it means to be a miner, and I can well understand the responsibilities and risks of a pilot or of the men in the army and navy in various branches of the service. But here were men doing work that goes on day in and day out and is part of our daily lives, and I had never given a thought to the extraordinary skill and physical ability required to carry it through successfully. I was overcome at my own lack of imagination and understanding; but I shall be grateful to these men in the future, and have a better understanding of what this kind of work requires.
The most difficult thing about air trips is planning your luggage. No matter how careful I am, I always have some things I do not need and lack some things I do need.
I have just received an itinerary for our first days in Oslo, and I think from now on I shall have plenty to write about.