MARCH 20, 1937
Mrs. Kate Galt Zaneis, President of Southeastern Teachers College welcomed us warmly in Durant, Okla., and made every arrangement for our comfort in her home. We found a little mail awaiting us and were able to glance through it before lunch. I left Mrs. Scheider to an afternoon of work while I spoke to a packed auditorium of young people, who proved to be a remarkably good audience as far as attention was concerned.
Afterwards we stood in President Zaneis' office and received somewhere around 2300 people. I rarely do this, but it is also rare for a woman to be a president of a college where there are both men and women students. Mrs. Zaneis seemed to feel so keenly the value of personal contact, that for an afternoon and evening I returned to my Washington duty of shaking hands, which, for the time being, I have laid aside.
We had an hour to rest and dress and then went over to dinner with the other guests of the college. At 8:00 o'clock I spoke to an audience composed largely of citizens of the vicinity.
Judge Williams, a former Governor of the State, told me that he recognized people who had driven as much as 125 miles. As this is a distinctly Democratic part of the country I realized the interest was in the President's wife, more than it was in what I, as an individual, had to say.
As we went to President Zaneis' office after the lecture, one of the young A.P. reporters told me of the horrible tragedy at New London, Texas, where a gas explosion had blown up the high school and caused the death of many teachers and students. In this part of the world, where heating is done largely by natural gas and every house seems to have it, one cannot help wondering whether in a building such as a school, it would not be possible to make frequent check-ups to obviate the danger of gas accumulation causing an explosion.
President Zaneis told me that a similar explosion had occurred in the A. and M. College in Oklahoma, damaging the building, but fortunately not causing any loss of life. One cannot bear to think of the fathers and mothers searching for their children in the ruins of this school. All one can hope for is that some way will be found to prevent a recurrence of a tragedy of this kind.
We took the train at 8:35 this morning. Some of the students of the college were down at the station and put fifty-four boxes of flowers on the train. It was a kindly thought and we appreciated it greatly, but exactly what can be done with all those flowers when we spend an entire day on the train has been quite a problem.
I am so fond of flowers that it always seems a pity for them not to be of pleasure to someone. At the present moment a lovely green bowl containing a charming arrangement of light and dark nasturtiums and maiden-hair fern is placed beside us as we write. It is another evident of kindly thought. I shall hate to part with it when we change trains at Dallas and yet I cannot very well take it with me.