One of the most inspiring stories that has come out of this war has to do with a victim of "war's desolation" in Europe. This brief, true story, appearing in This Week Magazine - under date of June 27 - was written by the great Belgian writer and philosopher, Maurice Maeterlinck, whose play, "Bluebird," is a classic. This grand old man, who I though had long ago "thrown off this mortal coil," writes of a person whom he chooses to call Blanchard. Blanchard was a man to be envied, not only for the life he led, but for the long and successful career that had given him public acclaim - and wealth. His purse-strings were the open sesame to the good things of this world - a "castle by the sea," in Southern France - by the blue Mediterranean; a vast library - of thousands of volumes of books; carefully selected, costly paintings and objects d'art. In his vaulted dining room he could seat 150 guests. One friend in particular always visited Blanchard. Together they gloried in the luxury and beauty of this home. No doubt the friend thought, "He is living in a silken cocoon. What if it broke?" Well, it did break. The storm clouds opened, and the floods rushed over Europe. The fortunate few escaped. Blanchard's friend was one of them. When this friend reached America, the unbelievable news came to him that Blanchard was here, too. Like going to see the ghost of another world he hunted up the old man. Blanchard must be eighty by now - and a feeble, embittered old man. He found him - old, but not embittered, nor palsied with the sudden change from cornucopia to banyan day. With a firm handshake and shining eyes Blanchard welcomed his old friend into the tiny two-room apartment. "But your castle? Your gardens? Your library? Don't you miss them" queried the bewildered friend. "This tiny apartment is my castle - where I have all the privacy and solitude I want - with no secret police rapping at my door. My books? I have more of them than ever - at the Public Library, around the corner. My gardens? Central Park, three blocks away. The wines I loved to taste - those of Bordeaux and the Cote D'Or? Here, taste this," as he opened a bottle of port. "Not bad, eh? I am tasting new vintages - American - seventy-nine cents a bottle." Have you guessed who "Blanchard" is? Maurice Maeterlinck himself - who finds that America is indeed a "castle by the sea." He wonders if Americans really appreciate the glory, the bounty, the security that this country holds for all.
Besides Maeterlinck there are many other famous Europeans who have fled from the Nazis - and thus proved that they believe in democracy. Some day, when they return to Europe - for the ties of birth and native land are too strong for resistance - they will carry with them a gift. That gift will be a realistic understanding of what democracy really is. In Europe they wrote and thought of democracy as from an ivory tower. Here, in America, they live with it in the streets. As for this grand old man, Maurice Maeterlinck, whose "Bluebird" enchanted me as a young woman - what a privilege it would be to clasp his hand, look into his bright blue eyes, and welcome him to America! And then all of us who love his play would say to him, "There is one thing the Nazis could not take away from you - for you keep it safe in the vaulted castle of your heart - the "Bluebird of Happiness." ***
A whole crowd of us at the shop were vaccinated today. There are a few isolated cases of small-pox in and around Cleveland that make this precaution almost mandatory. In the large, white-tiled, main dispensary we were lined up in a snake line, and moved along like Ford parts on an assembly line. A nurse washed each hapless area with alcohol, the doctor emptied each tiny vial of serum on the chosen spot and then jabbed it in; another nurse applied the band-aid. The doctor received such loving attributes from his patients as "brute," "butcher," "horse-doctor," and "scorpion." But by his method it either "takes," or you are definitely immune. This vaccination comes on the heels of a voluntary blood donation by a large group from our plant. I wanted to go with the "gang" - for my fourth donation; but Mrs. I., the supervisor, would not hear to it. It is hard for most people to realize that this "bleeding" - within reason - is good for you. The blood-making machinery, set in motion, energizes and invigorates the whole body. It so happens that my blood pressure is a little below par right now; but the hemoglobin content in my blood went up from 85 on the first visit to 90 on the second - to 91 on the third - and that last one after combining war work and housework for three months. So - if you are between 18 and 60, are well, and have not had a cold within the last three weeks, go to the nearest blood bank - reminding yourself that YOUR BLOOD MAY SAVE A LIFE.
Florence B. Taylor
P.S. - Again Mr. Carson has been inspired to write the "perfect tribute." Would that the world might be full of such happy marriages - and such useful endeavor!
Next - 7/8/43 - Betty Smith - How she became an integral part of our family
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