MAY 27, 1939
REEDSVILLE, W. Va., Friday—We had a beautiful drive down yesterday. It was hazy but as the day advanced, it cleared and became quite warm and the view in the distance as we went into the mountains was very beautiful.
We stopped at Romney, W. Va., as usual, for lunch and most of us found West Virginia ham a very satisfactory dish. On the sidewalk, as we came out of the inn, there were a number of people. Among them was an elderly lady who said that her family had not wanted her to try to see me because they felt that it would be impossible, but she had come because she was so anxious to know whether the President was using the quilt which she had sent him. Assured on that point, she left apparently entirely satisfied.
We arrived at the Arthurdale Inn and, having deposited our bags, started out at once for Scotts Run. There a real thrill awaited us. Jere, which has always seemed to me a sad place filled with people lacking hope and therefore without initiative, was buzzing with life. The two ministers who came to see me last year about a community house for Scotts Run were on hand, also Mr. Bushrod Grimes.
When I inquired why so many people were out in gala attire, they said they had gathered to show me their first cooperative venture. It was an outdoor baking unit which they had built themselves, and loaves upon loaves of delicious looking bread lay upon a table in a shack nearby. All of us tasted it and we took home a loaf to eat. Then we were driven to the top of a hill to see the community gardens just being planted, and on to the shack further up the Run where material was being gathered from the nearby towns to be salvaged by the people.
Old workmen will teach younger members of the community their trade. A blacksmith and three cobblers with their tools have been discovered among the unemployed miners. This activity has meant the difference between a kind of living death and a creative activity in an effort to save themselves. The faces of the people are alive again. It was, perhaps, one of the most interesting experiences I have had in this region, which has taught me so many lessons.
I held two meetings in the evening, one with a group of local veterans, and one with the executive committee of the Homesteaders Club of Arthurdale.
We started out a little after nine this morning to visit the park in a wooded area, the cemetery plot, and the new tractor factory—which I think has great possibilities. I was interested to discover that a new type is being developed which may be used to advantage on rather small acreage. Then we saw the dairy which is now being leased by the cooperative association to two of the homesteaders, who also lease land on which to grow food for the cows. After a meeting with two groups from Morgantown, and also with a group of people interested in the school, we lunched with the faculty at the school and went over to the commencement exercises.