JULY 11, 1944
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have had the pleasure of having Mr. and Mrs. Charles Taussig, and Mr. and Mrs. William Brown Meloney, Jr. for a short visit over the weekend. Mrs. Meloney (Rose Franken) brought me the book of her play, "Outrageous Fortune," which she and her husband produced last winter and which I was not able to see. I read it with great pleasure the night before last.
Many of the characters stand out as completely real people. I almost seem to know them. The old mother is typical of hundreds of older women whom I have known, who were tired of living. In addition to the physical weariness, the need for the work of their hands and minds has slipped from them to the younger generation.
The basic point of the play is that we should look upon people as people, and not as belonging to any one race, and therefore having a number of typical racial attributes. In every race, the members of one family differ as widely as it is possible for human beings to differ, and our whole approach to human beings must be on the basis of what each individual has to offer and what particular problems within himself each person has to fight. Circumstances may have forced certain attitudes on different races, but those are not inherent attributes of the races.
The play is well written, and even the things which are disagreeable are handled with sensitiveness and a delicate touch. Everything Rose Franken writes has a quality of humor, and that is not lacking in this very serious piece of writing.
I want to go back to the question of the older woman in a family, the widow whose children feel that she will be less lonely if she lives in a home where grandchildren are growing up and where she has young life around her. They assure her that she will be welcome and they insist that her happiness will be far greater with them than if she lives alone. Of course, when this happens because of economic necessity, an older woman who is still fairly well, can be a real help. She can mind the children, she can help with the housework. But the minute her work is not really needed, I think an older woman is happier if she lives alone, no matter how simply she has to live. If she has visitors, she can extend her own hospitality. She does not feel that she is on anybody's mind, and she can govern her life within whatever modest budget she may have in the way that suits her best. It is hard, I think, at the end of a long life not to control your own surroundings, no matter how much you may have to change your way of living.