FEBRUARY 25, 1949
NEW YORK, Thursday—There is a little clean-up job that needs to be done in this country and the spring is as good a time as any to begin.
On my recent long train trip to St. Louis, I was struck by the fact that many of our cities are approached not only through drab and ugly streets, but through filth and dirt. Piles of rubbish may be seen in empty lots; old newspapers and bottles are strewn carelessly about.
I think it might be a good idea for us to start a nationwide campaign for tidying up all the approaches to our towns and cities. The smaller towns are in no better shape than the larger ones. There just seems to be a careless streak in some of us that makes us untidy in our municipal housekeeping.
On the whole, however, I thought the country, both in rural and urban areas, had a fairly well-to-do look. Houses have been recently painted. A good deal of building has been going on, and some people are taking infinite pains to make their own yards attractive.
It is a pity, on the other hand, to do so much tidying up that children can find no place to play. I have often heard grown-ups, who had invested in flowers and shrubs and planted them without much consideration of the space left for children to play in, admonish the youngsters not to hurt the flower beds or the shrubs. That, of course, is ridiculous. Whether a community joins together and makes a joint playground for the children, or whether each individual plans for his own children, some space should be arranged for their needs. But that, too, need not be a catchall for old papers and bottles and tin cans.
Impressions of our countryside are gained largely from train or automobile windows and often the traveller's opinion of townspeople is based on the impression left by a view of the roadside. Therefore, it behooves us to spruce up our communities for the benefit of all concerned.
The other evening we went to see "The Madwoman of Chaillot," which is currently playing on Broadway. This play points up some of the evils of our present-day society as only a mad woman could. The little touches that show why she went mad and her desire to free human beings from those things that keep the light from shining and the grass from seeming to be green and friendship from existing among men are altogether illuminating and arresting. We need new values for living and this fantasy makes clear what we should be rid of and what we should try to regain.
The stage setting of the second act is perfectly fascinating. I wish I'd seen the play in its original French version in Paris. I have an idea that the points would have been even clearer than they are. The principal actors are excellent; in fact, I thought everyone played their parts very successfully, and I found the evening an interesting one.
Jean Giraudoux, the author, evidently thought we needed a little cleaning up where our ambitions and aspirations were concerned, and, of course, this can only start in the heart of each individual.