This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
4th of July. Pledge of Unity. Food distribution. "Boarding parents" who take in homeless children.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 53408
Municipal archives id: LT4020
The original text of the WNYC radio broadcasts are the property of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. This digital edition is made available for research purposes only. The text may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives 31 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY, JULY 4, 1945
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF MAYOR F. H. LA GUARDIA'S SUNDAY TALK TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, IN A TRANSCRIBED BROADCAST OVER WNYC, AT 1:00 p.m.
Patience and Fortitude.
FOURTH OF JULY
A happy Fourth of July to all. I'm recording this greeting a day or so before the Fourth as on the Fourth I shall be on duty with the Permanent Joint Board on Defense somewhere in Canada.
Well, all Americans have good cause to rejoice and to thank God for the privilege of American citizenship. We are still so young, our Republic is but 154 years old, quite young for a nation that has developed to be the mightiest nation in the whole world.
This is the 157th year of our Declaration of Independence, and today we are fighting all over the world to share the benefits of Democracy, the happiness of freedom, with other oppressed people in other countries. We must, at all times, consider that the privileges of Democracy bring with It responsibility. Part of that responsibility is to understand our form of government, to do our duty as citizens, and it requires duty as well as enjoyment of liberties. That means that we must have understanding for the problems of our neighbors. That means that we must do everything within our power to maintain tranquility in our own land. It also means that when the government calls upon us to render services of one kind or another we must do it cheerfully. This also means that we must keep informed of the affairs of our government, whether municipal, state, or federal; that we exercise our privilege of voting intelligently and that we all act in harmony in all matters pertaining to the foreign relations of our country, and in the defense of our country.
PLEDGE OF UNITY
I have before me a pledge of unity that is now being distributed throughout our city. It is quite timely, and I think I'll read it to you. It says:
"PLEDGE OF UNITY
We, the citizens of New York, say it can't happen here, but we want to make sure. Moved by a deep sense of anguish and horror that in the midst of a war being fought for Democracy there could be manifestations of racial hatred and violence against Americans of any race, color, or creed, we pledge:
1. That we shall not be moved to mob action against any fellow-citizen or group of fellow-citizens.
2. That we shall not listen to, nor repeat any rumors designed to divide us among ourselves.
3. That we shall, at all times, live up to the spirit of our American citizenship and do what is in our power to forward mutual understanding and friendliness among all the various groups which make up our city and our America." When this pledge comes to your attention, sign it. I am arranging also to have a replica of this pledge made so that everyone who signs it may keep it as a constant reminder of our desire to keep peace, tranquillity and happiness in our City.
Well, even if it is the Fourth of July we must eat, and, therefore, I am compelled again to talk about food. I want to have just a confidential talk with you. The purpose of food control and ceiling prices are to guarantee to all Americans an equitable distribution of food at reasonable prices. Its purpose is to see that available food is not hoarded, that it is marketed intelligently and honestly, and to avoid profiteering. That is the purpose for which the Office of Price Administration was created by President Roosevelt. I've discussed this matter many times with the President. The Provident has made many public statements of his views and his intent and his determination to see that the American people got sufficient and proper nourishment and that there be no profiteering or gouging or hoarding of food.
We all know that the armed forces need a certain amount of food and the government has ordered that 45% of all available meat be first set aside for the armed services and lend lease purchases. In the beginning there was some error in that part of our share - the civilian share - of meat was taken in this area for ships. As I announced a few days ago, this has been corrected and I am in receipt of a telegram from Harold J. O'Connell, Director of Food Control, War Shipping Administration, in which he says:
"Meat set aside order has been amended to include requirements of War Shipping Administration. This action should help to relieve the strain on civilian supplies in New York."
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Federal Food Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the War Shipping Administration for their cooperation.
Now, as everyone knows, the reason that we have price ceilings is to avoid high prices - unreasonably high prices - and profiteering in food.
Price ceiling means exactly what It says. It is a maximum price above which food any not be sold. Anyone who sells food above ceiling prices is violating the law and the rules and regulations of the Office of Price Administration.
Inasmuch as the purpose is to establish a lid, a ceiling, no one can say that it is unlawful to sell below ceiling prices. Note now, its ceiling prices, not floor prices. If it was the intention of our President to establish minimum prices it would be called floor prices and not ceiling prices. It is also the policy of the government, at this time, whether we agree with it or not, to establish ceiling prices on live stock and the products of the farm. Therefore, anyone who buys at market prices either livestock or the products of the farm, may sell below ceiling prices for there is nothing in the law, nothing in the rules and regulations of the Office of Price Administration that requires anyone to sell at ceiling prices or prohibits anyone to sell below ceiling prices. No one can sell above ceiling prices.
I have already discussed the difficulties of honest wholesalers and honest slaughter houses and packers and wholesalers in buying at market prices and selling at ceiling prices. The only cure for this is a subsidy or differential payment in order to make possible the sale from original processor and slaughterhouse to the wholesaler at ceiling prices. Until that is done we must do everything within our power to keep prices down. And, of course, necessity being the author of invention now that honest slaughterhouses and honest retailers are in a difficult position, awaiting the action of Congress, they have resorted to some machinery that will permit them to sell at ceiling prices and, perhaps, lower than ceiling prices.
Therefore, a new system of distribution, perhaps temporary to meet the emergency, has been developed whereby the original slaughterers, original slaughterhouse or packer would sell direct to the consumer. That would enable him to sell below ceiling prices. There is nothing in the law and there could be nothing in the law to prohibit a slaughterhouse or packer, or an original processor from selling direct to the consumers. That is why attempts have been made during the last few days to invoke this new system. I have encouraged it because it is to the benefit of the consumer and it also guarantees to the producer, the livestock grower, a fair and just price for his livestock. That is all there is to it.
You know, of course, OPA means Office of Price Administration. It doesn't mean Office of Price Advancing. I am sure that the Office of Price Administration will do everything within its power to bring supplies of food to the people at the lowest possible price not at the highest possible price. I am sure that the Office of Price Administratation will do everything within its power to carry out its original idea.
You all remember when the Office of Price Administration was first established that the plan now sought to be invoked of bringing the product direct from the original processor to retailer was the plan suggested by the Office of Price Administration. It can readily be seen that an agency of the Federal Government desirous of helping the consumer, and that is the purpose of the Office of Price Administration, is to keep prices as low as possible.
I am going to continue to do everything within my power to keep prices down. That is what I believe the people of my City want me to do. That is what I know the President of the United States desires, namely, that the farmer, the livestock producer receives a fair price for his products and that the consumer gets the prices at reasonable rates. I hope that there will be no trouble about this but I shall continue to protect the interests of the people of this City and I shall do everything within my power to see to it that it receives food at the lowest possible price. If I an in error, the courts will have an opportunity to decide. I have directed the Commissioner of Markets not to issue summonses to anyone selling below ceiling prices. We do not consider that to be a violation of Law or a violation of regulations.
This week we will have plenty of potatoes. I've already spoken on that subject. Prices of potatoes should be very, very low because the government is buying potatoes to support the market and, mark you, I'm trying to have the subsidy that the government is now paying for potatoes passed on to the consumers. That is now being considered but hasn't yet been decided in Washington. Doesn't it seem fair to you that if the government has to go in and spend money and buy a great amount of potatoes in order to maintain a market price that after the farmer is paid and he's protected that that differential should be passed on to the consumer so that he could buy at cheaper rates. Well, I shall insist upon that.
There will be plenty of cabbage this week and plenty of snap beans----green and yellow---so watch the market. These commodities should be at low prices.
AMENDMENT TO EGG ORDER
Now, you remember, I've been talking so long about getting an amendment to the egg order. Last week I read a telegram that it was ready and awaiting signature. Well, I hope that by the time you hear this it will have been signed. The order revokes the exemption of assorted eggs and puts all eggs into the following grades: all specials - one grade, all extras - one grade, and all standards -one grade, and a grade of current receipts. It will set prices at the first receiver's level with a one cent markup to the jobber and a two and a half cent markup by the jobber to the retailer and the retailer is already under his present markup. As soon as that comes, we should have no trouble with eggs.
I have arranged and we are now negotiating to bring in a large supply of tomatoes for canning. The reason I recommend the canning of tomatoes is because it is one of the vegetables that is easiest to can. It does not require pressure cookers. The Department of Markets will provide instructions and demonstrations on how to can tomatoes at the Essex City Market. A large number of housewives and home keepers know how to do it. We will try to give one week's advance notice of the supply of tomatoes coming in and prices so that everyone may be ready. Of course, tomatoes are a very wholesome food and used by a great many so we strongly advise the canning of tomatoes.
As you know I've formed a committee consisting of representatives of the Department of Health, Department of Markets, Department of Education, CDVO, some prominent citizen specialists, and the Consolidated Gas Company and the Union Gas Company for advice on the canning of other vegetables. We are now negotiating and seeking to obtain the necessary pressure cookers and with the cooperation of the State and the United States Department of Agriculture, we hope to be able to establish community centers. We are not sure, yet, whether we will be able to got these pressure cookers but you will be kept informed. I hope by a week or ten days we will know definitely whether we will be able to get them.
NUTRITION FOUNDATION, INC
Talking about nutrition and canning, I want to express the thanks of the City to the Nutrition Foundation Inc. of which Mr. George Sloan is President for its generous contribution of some $61,600. to various educational institutions and research institutions in New York City for research in nutrition.
Here's something interesting - I have a chart before me showing the jump in prices of various food commodities and I just want to pause to tell or express my thanks to the bakers of this City and this country for their ability in keeping down the price of bread. Although there has been a slight increase, the increase in bread products does not at all compare in the jump with other commodities of food such as canned fruit and vegetables, beef and veal, beverages, dairy products, fats and oils, chickens and pork, eggs, fish, and fresh vegetables. I don't know whether it is generally known that all white bread is enriched and therefore contains the highest food value that white bread lines ever heretofore contained. my appreciation and congratulations to the American Bakers Association.
EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN
At this time I think I ought to mention that the trends in reference to the employment of children are really alarming. With the excitement of the war and the publicity on shortage of labor, a great many employers have resorted to the employment of child labor. Now where that is absolutely necessary, of course, there is no objection but I want to warn parents who permit their children, especially children of 16, to take employment during the summer to be sure and see to it that they return to school when school opens in the fall. I also want to warn parents of children who take employment to watch their health very carefully; to note whether or not they became overtired; to see that they got proper nourishment and enough rest. That is very important. I also want to warn employers that we will do everything within our power, and I'm sure the State will because the supervision of Child Labor is entirely under the control of the State, so that there will be no exploitation and that no system shall develop in this City for the systematic employment of child labor when adult labor is available. This is something which requires very careful watching and constant supervision. I will have more to say about it later on.
CITY SWIMMING POOLS
All the people of our City are certainly enjoying the swimming pools. Last week - the end of last week - from the day of the opening of the swimming pools Commissioner Moses informs me that 515,626 people used the City swimming pools as compared with the like period the year previous of 324,528. Of course, our swimming pools are modern, up-to-date pools with all sanitary precautions being taken under the very able and competent management of our great Department of Parks. May I also remind the children that the morning hours are free to all children and they should take advantage of it.
FOSTER HOMES FOR CHILDREN
Now, I want to say a word today about one of the most important and human services of City Government - care of our homeless, neglected and destitute children. We have heard about all kinds of war shortages, but one of the most poignant of all is the serious shortage of family homes in which to board homeless children. It is very important.
I hesitated to talk about this because I know of certain conditions which are created when a family takes in a child. Some times it is really heartbreaking. When a child is boarded out, it lives with a family, but when its own parents are again able to care for it properly, the child is then returned to them. On many occasions this is a very great heart wrench for the youngster's boarding parents. You know, It's very difficult to take a
child into your home, to learn to love and care for it as your own, and then have to part with it. I fully realize how great an emotional strain this can be for boarding parents, but now I've been assured by persons who have made a thorough study of this situation that this is not always the case. In fact, I've been advised that, more often than not, the vast majority of those boarding parents find great satisfaction in giving homeless children a home and then, when the real parents are ready to take the child back, the boarding parents really rejoice and are happy that the child can once again be restore to his own family.
I would like to urge all of you who can to consider the possibility of boarding one or more youngsters in your home. I want to make a special appeal to employees of the City Government. Certainly you'll agree that a home is better for a child than even the best institution. I've said that before. I've been criticized for saying it but I shall continue to say that a home is better for a child than the best institution.
Many mothers whose sons have gone off to war have made the sacrifice cheerfully but an aching void remains. These mothers might well find a great measure of comfort and a new interest were they to take a young child into their home - a boy or girl - upon whom they could lavish their love, their care and their understanding. Wouldn't it be a good idea to ask those war mothers who naturally feel the absence of their boy to take a little fellow in?
Boarding parents are paid by the City for caring for these children. I believe it is about $8.50 a week for a child. If you can arrange to take a child into your home, please write or visit Foster Homes for Children, 105 East 22 Street, New York City, or write to the Department of Welfare, New York City.
Well, I think I have spoken way beyond my time and I hope to be back again with you soon. I will keep in touch with this office every day and also keep my eye on the food situation. That requires Patience and Fortitude.