MARCH 7, 1939
On the train to NATCHEZ, Miss., Monday—We departed last night and, as usual, there was work to be done up to the last minute. However, after dinner, I took time off to see a film which is going to be shown this week in New York City for the first time. The pictures were taken over a period of a year spent in Czechoslovakia and cover the crises of March and last September, so the film is called "The Crisis." The thing which impressed me most was the change in the faces of the people after the final decision of Munich, when the people in Prague realized that they were again a subject nation.
It is true that Czechoslovakia is made up of various racial strains, including the Sudetenland, whose people are of German birth. Very probably representation granted to these various groups in the government was not completely equal, but judging from this picture, the government of the little Republic was an enlightened government and many social reforms had been instituted. In watching the young people at their great festival, one gets the impression of a virile people contented in their freedom. Perhaps the value of this picture for us is the mere realization of the difference which freedom backed by a sense of security gives in comparison with virtual dependency where security can no longer exist. Democratic processes are slow, but for us they represent freedom and I hope we will guard them jealously.
My first lecture on this trip is in Natchez, Mississippi. Some weeks ago a very lovely book with beautiful illustrations came to me from the two authors, Georgie Wilson Newell and Charles Cromartie Compton. I have looked at the cover of this book every day and hoped to have time to read it and prepare myself for an intelligent appreciation of the countryside and the lovely old homes which have been preserved in Natchez and the surrounding neighborhood. I had to bring it with me, however, to read last night after I got on the train. I am certainly looking forward to a glimpse of this interesting place, even though I realize that it is too early for the gardens to be at their best.
When I entered the diner for breakfast this morning, I looked out of the window and remarked to Miss Thompson that the place we were approaching looked like Abingdon, Virginia, and, sure enough, it was. The place always brings back memories of my father who spent the closing years of his life there. I have only been there once, but because of my associations I suppose certain landmarks were fixed in my mind.
Now we are in Tennessee, there are clouds overhead with blue patches of sky showing through here and there. The waters in every little stream are swollen far beyond their normal limits and very very muddy, but nowhere have I seen any signs of serious damage being done. Daffodils are blooming in the yards of the houses, but the trees are still bare. In this part of the country the majority of homes look poor and many of them are mere log cabins, but I have seen one or two very prosperous looking farm houses.