FEBRUARY 27, 1956
WASHINGTON—I had the pleasure the other day of talking with Dr. Leona Baumgartner, New York's Health Commissioner, about her recent trip to India. She visited there on the invitation of India's Minister of Health, as a consultant on maternal and child welfare, and had a unique opportunity to study village conditions where general sanitation measures are gradually being introduced.
In the last few years in India, real strides have been made in introducing certain obvious health measures. For example, the malaria control program which has been so successful has cut down the number of flies enormously. I was surprised to learn from Dr. Baumgartner, in fact, that flies are now hardly noticeable in the villages. They are also making some advances in stoves which use sun heat, although these are too expensive still for general use. This would potentially make an enormous health difference. Cattle have hitherto been allowed to roam at will through the streets because cow dung was used for fuel as well as for fertilizer. When cattle can be kept outside the villages, another great advance will have been taken place for the improvement of general health conditions in the villages.
I also attended the Salute to Youth sponsored last week by a great number of organizations at the Sheraton Astor hotel. The young people present were chosen as leaders in their interfaith and intercultural school and organization activities. Though I was there at the very beginning for a few minutes only, it was evident that they were all enjoying themselves very much indeed. The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts and PAL were all conspicuously present.
On Wednesday evening I went for the first time to a performance given by the French Art Theatre. The moving spirit in presenting these plays is Madame Eve Daniel. The three short plays presented were all well done and entertaining, though I particularly enjoyed the second, "Gros Chagrins," by Georges Courteline. Mrs. Elaine Pinheiro, one of the players, won a scholarship through her study of French, and I thought as an American she did remarkably well. It was a small audience and the plays are given in the small Carl Fischer Concert Hall, but I was surprised there were so many people who could enjoy French theatre and appreciate the fine points of the dialogue.
It always seems to me that we teach French badly in our schools, for our young people do not grow accustomed to the spoken word even if they know the grammar and can write the language and translate it. This opportunity to go to the French theatre should be seized upon by French students both in schools and universities. It will give them an opportunity to grow accustomed to the sound of the language, which is important if they are going to use it when they travel in Europe or in any country where French is more apt to be spoken than English.