SEPTEMBER 7, 1937
HYDE PARK, Monday—We had such a storm on Saturday that branches were blown off the trees, and I looked out to see our trees bending before it in a manner which was almost terrifying. After it I found that a number of roads were blocked and the holiday traffic was very much congested. Holidays are good times, I think, to stay at home though I don't always take the opportunity as I should!
I was reading last night an interesting article in the September issue of Harpers called "Dixie Detour" by Cedric Belfrage who at the start announces that a friend of his had told him that the English came over here in greater numbers than any other nationality, visit the country for a few weeks and then write of what they have seen, interpreting it and feeling sure of their understanding of all they describe. He himself makes neither explanations nor interpretations. He simply tells the story of what he saw as he travelled by motor in certain parts of our country. He chose extremely well from the point of view of making a study of industrial conditions and he interviewed labor leaders, government officials, people of different races, more successfully than many an American has done. He compares certain of our coal regions to coal regions in Wales, but in the mere arrangement of his material in the contrasting points of view which are given, he brings out facts which we need to realize and very rarely think about.
For instance, he tells the story of the charming, kindly southern plantation owner who has the interest of his workers very much at heart, who looks upon his colored families as children to be looked after, to be kindly treated, but not to be educated and allowed to look after themselves. He also tells of a meeting with members of the share-croppers union and the two pictures are a grand contrast.
His method of travelling was particularly wise if you wish to really see the country, but not many people like to get off the beaten track, even though our roads today are fairly good. It is best, however not to actually search out the dirt roads which still have to serve many of our outlying farm districts.
Speaking of roads, there is a new cement road which goes off from the main New York City to Albany highway which opens up a section of the farming country which before was served only by these dirt roads. When I was a child I drove and road over many of them and therefore knew the houses very well. A few days ago I drove past these very same houses on the new cement road. One farm has acquired a really splendid fruit and vegetable stand with a grand sign, and I was delighted to notice how many cars were stopping and buying from the farmer who had a hard time selling any of his fruit two years ago. This is a kind of bringing together of the farmer and his market which good roads seem to accomplish.