MAY 10, 1939
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Yesterday the representatives of the various trade interests of Great Britain, with a certain amount of ceremony, presented me with the box containing the three beautifully woven pieces of blue cloth. They made me a very charming little speech and gave me the key to the box, which I then unlocked to find three different weaves, all light, sheer and beautiful in texture.
With Miss Clare Potter's help, we decided which was the lightest. Before I left the hotel, she took my measurements and I promised to try to give her a fitting the first time I came to New York.
From there I went to Mr. George Bye's office, with whom it is always a joy to talk. Then I went on to see a lady who had written me an interesting letter and begged me to come and see the screens which she is now painting professionally, after years of doing it purely as a hobby. The screens seemed to me very charming and the idea of having a screen especially made for the room struck me as rather interesting. I hope she succeeds, for to take up a new occupation when your work has gone, requires some courage.
Then came a most delightful two hours. The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., has decided to present an award to the American who has given the most outstanding performance on the stage in the current year. The first recipient of this award is Miss Laurette Taylor, and they accorded me the honor of presenting her with it. There were many others present who, as dramatic critics and producers could speak with more discrimination. There were old friends and co-workers who could praise her with warmth and affection, but I am sure that none of them had experienced more real appreciation of her performance, nor were they any happier at being given the privilege of being present at a party in her honor.
I had a double interest in this party because my father had lived for a number of years in Abingdon and the place has always had a little halo of romance for me on that account. A few years ago, I went to the White Top Music Festival, which is a folk-festival held on the top of a mountain not far from Abingdon, and the story of the Barter Theatre was told me as they pointed out the hotel and the old playhouse on our way through the city.
Mr. Robert Porterfield is responsible for the idea. Of the stories he told me, I like best the one of the man who came in to ask how much milk he would have to pay in order to attend a performance. When told it would be about half a gallon, he disappeared and was seen milking his cow on the lawn. When he reappeared, Mr. Porterfield, who had seen the mountaineer's wife standing nearby, inquired if she too was not going to see the play. The husband's answer was: "Yes, but I ain't going to do her milking for her."
Afterwards, I spent a little time in Jonas Lie's studio and then dashed to the steamer to meet my son, Jimmy, and arrived just as the passengers were coming off. We motored up here this morning and, in one short week, the country has taken on so much spring beauty.