JANUARY 7, 1955
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Before I write any further about my doings on my current trip through the South and Southwest, I must tell you about our rather rocky flight from St. Louis to Kansas City and a couple of unusual experiences.
While I was sitting in the plane during the stopover in St. Louis a young woman came and squatted in the aisle by my chair and asked if I remembered writing her a letter about a year ago. Of course, I had to say I couldn't until she reminded me of the very sad experience she had had.
Her child had acquired tuberculosis from a refugee who had come to work in their house and, as a result, had died.
This young woman felt very keenly that something should be done to check on the health of refugees for some time after they reach this country. I think that is rather a good idea for there is, of course, always a chance of a recurrence of a disease that may seem to have been completely stopped. A change of climate or the adjustment to an entirely new way of life might easily have such a disturbing effect that restored health might be undermined again.
The consequences, of course, are rarely as serious as those suffered by this poor mother, and I was glad to learn that she had another child and seemed much happier now.
While talking to her I looked up and suddenly saw my daughter-in-law's little boy, Rexie. On Tuesday morning he had been put on a plane in New York bound for Phoenix, Arizona, and here it was Wednesday noon and he was boarding my plane to Kansas City.
I thought at first my eyes must be deceiving me. Young Rexie explained, however, that he had spent the night at a hotel in St. Louis and now was going to Kansas City, where he would change for a plane to Albuquerque. He certainly looked a tired and disheveled little boy.
Rexie sat in the seat next to me and slept all through the very bumpy trip. Fortunately, he had had his lunch. The rest of us sat precariously wondering whether at least the liquid part of our lunch would land in our laps at any moment. A number of people were airsick, and the stewardesses worked every minute of the trip.
I have the greatest admiration for the way the stewardesses fulfill their many tasks—serving everybody, looking after those who fall ill, and even petting babies whose mothers reach a point of desperation. Certainly, to be an air stewardess gives one many varied experiences. And I can vouch for the fact that these girls can hurry. The two on our plane practically ran through their jobs.
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They tell me that the Kansas City area had snow and then two days of rain. Fortunately it had not frozen, for the rain was badly needed, since the region has been suffering from drought conditions off and on for seven years, according to the young man who came to meet me at the airport.