FEBRUARY 1, 1945
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I was very much impressed last night, as I went from birthday ball to birthday ball, by the number of men in uniform who were taking part in these celebrations. Of course, it is obvious that men who are free to do anything of this kind and who are in Washington are the men who are busy all day in various offices.
Still, I think it also shows that the appeal of a home front battle is strong for the man who has to fight our battles overseas. Perhaps if you are fighting for your country in faraway places, when you come home you are more conscious that you want your country to be the best possible place to live in, both for yourself and your children. This, I hope, augurs more responsible citizenship from our returned service men.
This morning I went out to Walter Reed hospital to one of the forums which are going on there from day to day. We were a panel of women—Miss Freda Miller, head of the Women's Bureau in the Department of Labor; Miss Mary Switzer, executive assistant to Paul V. McNutt in the War Manpower Commission; and Miss Malvina Lindsay, columnist of the Washington Post. I was to act as discussion leader and moderator, though since we were not debating with each other there was very little to moderate. The subject was "Women in the Postwar World." You can well imagine that we covered a great deal of territory, since women enter into every phase of modern life!
The last group of our visiting grandchildren leaves us this afternoon, and the house will indeed seem quiet with only one small boy of five to remind us that the world is a world of children.
Do you belong to the Consumers' League in your state? For many years I have been a member in New York State, and the organization has just published a report in pamphlet form, called: "The Joads in New York." It is the story of the migrant workers in New York State farm camps. The same story could probably be written of every state, from Florida to northern New York, from Texas to Minnesota. I hope everybody reads this little pamphlet. John Steinbeck, in "The Grapes of Wrath," told the story of the migratory workers who left farms on which they could no longer make a living and traveled to unspeakable conditions in various other states. People's consciences were aroused to that particular problem, but here is one we have with us all the time, every year.
It is such a big problem that if we don't know about it, it may do a great deal of harm. To our shame, the imported workers from the Bahamas and Jamaica live under better conditions, because they are protected by international contract, than do our own citizens. Tomorrow I will tell you a little more about this report, but you can get it from the Consumers' League of New York, and you will find it interesting.