JULY 28, 1949
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—I have just been reading in manuscript form a book that will come out in September. I know I must not write a review of a book before it is actually released, but I'm sure it is permissible for me to say I have found a book deeply interesting! This is the story by Fulton and Will Ousler about Boys Town, which was founded by Father Flanagan.
It is interesting not only as a story of an idea and the project's influence of a fine personality on many boys of various characters and backgrounds, but it is interesting as the life of a man who had a vision and lived up to it. I am sure that when it comes out it will be one of the very popular books of the year.
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I was also very much interested in the article written by Lillian Smith about her own book, which she says is her own story and which will come out in October. You probably read the article when it was published, so you will know that it was written to make all of us here in the United States look at ourselves and our philosophy of living.
I have long had a great admiration for Miss Smith. She seems to feel that she has a primary obligation to make the South think. I also feel she has the great gift of making all people think—in both the North and the South. There never was a time when thinking was more important.
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At lunch yesterday a young lawyer who is just establishing himself in Carthage, N.Y., brought his young wife, just arrived from her home near Strasbourg, Germany, to pay us a visit on their way back to his own hometown. She was shy but I think she has the character to study this country and settle down happily in her new life.
She told me that on the steamer coming over she had met two girls returning from Paris who told her they preferred Paris to living in their homes in the United States—one in California and one in Texas. She remarked, however, she thought this was because they lived in a big city whereas she lived in a village and was sure she could adapt herself to a small town. She will certainly find other people who have come here from other parts of Europe, if not from places near her own home, who are struggling to discover the secret of American life and the American people.
I am always astounded by how quickly newcomers from abroad adapt themselves and how in a short time they are talking about how "we" do it, meaning of course, the people of the United States. We are still a melting pot and the melting process goes on day by day to the advantage, I believe, of the native stock. We need to be reminded of why some of our ancestors came to this country and why today this country is the one country in the world where people can still dream of and realize prosperity and freedom.