OCTOBER 6, 1938
EN ROUTE TO JOHNSON CITY, Tenn., Wednesday—I never realized before what a very long state Tennessee is. Here we have been travelling since 10:00 o'clock last night and we won't be out of Tennessee until somewhere around 1:00 o'clock today. To be sure, the train moves in a leisurely fashion and, in the early morning hours, I was aware that we spent two hours in the station at Chattanooga. But even so, it takes a long while to travel through Tennessee by train.
The rolling country is very interesting with woods and streams in abundance. It is badly eroded in many places and though we have just come through a big lumber yard, I have yet to see any signs of reforestation.
The Tennessee River looked an innocent and placid stream when we crossed it, but we know that is not always true of its behavior. There seem to be more cows and of a better breed than one usually finds in the nearby state of Georgia, but the land in the part of Tennessee we are going through now is rocky and I should think would yield a poor living to the farmers.
Yesterday we caught a glimpse of a most striking group of wayside cabins. I thought at first sight they were a glorified Indian encampment, for in the center stood a huge white tepee decorated with lines of color and surrounded by small white tepees glistening in the sunlight. My practical secretary brought me back to reality when I began to speculate about the very modern Indians who must be living there, she took one look out of the window and remarked: "Probably tourist cabins."
We reached Nashville yesterday afternoon about 4:30 and our first duty was a press conference attended by five ladies and one gentleman. He seemed to be the real veteran and arrived armed with questions. The ladies, in becoming fashion, allowed him to do most of the interviewing. Then there was a reception attended by an attractive group of girl scouts in different costumes which marked their ages. Later I had an hour and a quarter to dress, dine and get ready for the platform.
Comparatively few questions followed my talk and the first one came from an old colored man up in the gallery who wanted to know about "the money for the old folks." I wasn't quite sure whether he was interested in the thirty-dollar-every-Thursday California plan, or Social Security cooperation with the states on old age pensions. I decided that I knew nothing about the first plan, and that I had better explain the second, which I did to his apparent satisfaction. However, I realized afterwards that I had told him only what the maximum was which could be obtained if the state matched the full amount from the Federal Social Security Board. This full cooperation, half state and half federal, would give a thirty dollar a month pension and, if the state so desired, it could increase its own contribution beyond that sum.
I entirely forgot to state that there was no obligation on any state to set this total pension at the maximum amount and that a state could decide to give the old people ten dollars a month and thus receive only five dollars from the Federal Social Security system and contribute five dollars itself. This information might have been of interest to those present.