OCTOBER 3, 1938
NEW YORK, Sunday—We experienced so many painful impressions yesterday, that it is hard to tell you which seemed the most terrible. Many people lost members of their family and friends, and there are still many people among the missing.
A rocking chair with a little child's chair not far away, in the middle of a field, seemed the epitome of desolation. All around was wreckage of one kind or another. Along the shore we could see a few houses still standing, leaning crazily in different directions. In some places the land as well as the houses has disappeared, and prized possessions with which families had old associations are gone forever.
Of the big cities, Providence, R.I., seemed to me to have the hardest time. There we saw the best example of the curious, freakish things which a storm can do. Two huge coal barges were evidently picked up by the waves, washed over the top of a little brick harbor master's house and neatly set down side by side about a foot apart, between his brick house and a gas station which was not even scratched. These barges now stand by the side of the main highway and I imagine they will be there for many a long day, for it seems hardly possible to get them back into the water.
The great loss of trees, particularly the tall giants which for years had been the pride of these New England towns, gives one a curious feeling of desolation, perhaps even greater than the damage to the houses along the village streets. Nature does repair her ravages fairly quickly, but it will be a long time before these giants will reappear along the streets, parks and village greens of New England.
Senator Green of Rhode Island, who met us in Boston and accompanied us all day, looked tired. I think the emotional strain of seeing the state and the people he loves in such dire distress is a hard blow.
The exercises at the Rhode Island State College in Kingston, R.I., were simple and delightfully arranged. The girls' dormitory, which had been named after me, is a charming building. After lunch the girls invited me to light a fire in one of their big living room fireplaces, to symbolize the warmth which should always surround the family hearth. Several other buildings and the new athletic field were dedicated. The Governor and various other distinguished guests were present. It all went so smoothly that we got away exactly at the time we had planned and I was able to receive a good picture of the conditions between Providence and Westbrook, Conn., where we spent the night with Miss Lape and Miss Read.
Everyone who went through the storm on the coast felt that it was a terrifying experience. All of them praise the WPA men, the CCC boys and the NYA boys, in just the way I heard them praised in Springfield, Mass.
We are spending a quiet afternoon in New York City and are off this evening for Louisville, Kentucky.