New Year's greeting to you all! I wanted to say "Happy New Year!" and even wrote it down. But we just can't be flippant about this new year, upon which we are already embarked. There is too much misery in this old world of ours - too many homeless, and hungry, without hope for the future; too many heart-hungry for their little ones - for us to sing blithely, "Happy New Year!" but I have a feeling that 1941 is to be a memorable year. If we think of the drama of 1940, and survey it as on a motion picture screen, it seems as if the reel turns at dizzying speed - to crowd all the events of one year into that picture. (Just read the Chronology of 1940 in the Saltsburg Press. A year ago there was bitter, gallant fighting in the frozen tundras of Finland. Brave little Finland's battle - in the face of impossible odds - will go down in history as a classic of heroism. 1940 saw the subjugation of Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, the "stab in the back" of England and France by Italy. The famous "boot" that kicked the rest of the world into submission 'way back in the first century B.C. has become water-logged and cracked and can't even cope with tiny Greece, who doesn't pretend to be prepared for war. Oh, shades of Julius Caesar!
But England! England - who has always irritated us more or less with her cocksureness - her arrogance - has now won the admiration of the whole world. Lin Yutang, the Chinese philosopher, in his book, "The Importance of Living," published three years ago, wrote almost prophetically of England when he said, "The very strength of the British Empire consists in the English lack of cerebration, in their total inability to see the other man's point of view, and in their strong conviction that the English way is the only right way... The moment the Englishmen learn to reason and lose their strong confidence in themselves, the British Empire will collapse." (And we are very sure that moment will never come).
One of the greatest changes in 1940 was the psychological change in the attitude of the United States toward this war. A year ago we were sighing with pity for Finland, yes, - but, in our smug complacency, we were saying, "This is Europe's war. We won't be such saps as we were in 1917-18. This time we'll mind our own business, and stay out of it." But the year of 1940 was a year of investigation. Countless "lids" were lifted in this country, revealing huge cauldrons, where Nazi plots were seething and boiling - into quite a fancy dish for Germany. We have found that neither the Atlantic nor the Pacific is as wide as it used to be; we have learned - from Europe's sorrowful lesson - that the word "appeasement" is an abominable word - to be forever banned from the American vocabulary. We have awakened to the fact that, unless we rush the weapons of defense to that last stronghold of freedom in Europe - brave England, there will be not only a complete wrecking of the religion, culture, integrity built up in Europe through the centuries, but a slow closing in on our own shores. It is all very skillfully - very diabolically - planned. The greatest spur to human endeavor is not a "goad" behind us, but a vision before us - a memory of magnificent endeavor - by some individual or nation. We are still the greatest nation on earth, not because of our natural resources, boundless as they are, but because we carry the vision of the winter of 1776 - the bloody footprints in the snow - of a small army of underpaid (sometimes unpaid), undernourished, ragged men, who fought against overwhelming odds for their newly declared independence - that this new nation, conceived in Liberty, might endure. ***
Last night Virgil and I rang a certain door-bell; thereby hangs a tale; you remember the story of the neighbor, three doors away, who punished her boy so unmercifully that I made bold to interfere? There were amusing and disturbing reactions to that visit of mine. Though the young mother seemed to take my counsel in good part, the father was so resentful of my interference that he drove his car the other way around the block, rather than have anything to do with the Taylors. He had been in the habit of giving my husband a "lift" whenever they happened to start to work at the same time. When Mr. E. finally picked him up one morning, it was to express the firm suspicion that our boys were "in on" some vandalism, committed in the name of Halloween pranks. (Halloween starts around the first of October in South Euclid). We soon checked up and found, for once, that our boys had no part in this business. Daddy Virgil certainly laid down the law, and the boys knew that meant "no foolin''." Finally Mr. E. caught the culprit. Mrs. E. came straightway and apologized to our boys for suspecting them, in a way that melted their hearts. Since then she and her husband have been the best of neighbors. Mrs. E. feels free to run in for a bit of baking powder or advice; and I am thrilled. Last evening she called up and asked if Virgil and I could come over. I must confess there were a lot of things I would rather have done. But I am too slow-witted to think up any alibis. So, over we went. Can a young couple, whose worst fault (in each) is a violent temper, teach an older couple anything? I'll say they can. I learned so much from that alert, artistic young housewife. The most charming breakfast-nook I have ever seen, created by the use of paintbrush, gingham curtains, made by hand (for she has no sewing-machine) and gay red pottery. The color scheme is ivory-and-red. She gave me some grand cooking hints. Ronnie - the one and only bairn - called eagerly for me to come up and see his room, and his Christmas presents. Everything a wee heart could desire. And when he clasped his baby arms tight around his mother and bade her an affectionate good night, I knew that his love and understanding were great enough to survive every "blitzkrieg."
Florence B. Taylor
Next -1/23/41 - Buster's funeral. A Special Bit of Creation