Dr. Sawyer traveled to Europe and England several times during the course of World War II, often with the U.S. Health Commission
to Europe, a group of public health experts charged with assessing wartime public health problems and planning for their control.
In this letter, he mentioned the food shortages developing in Europe, and commented that none of the babies he saw in Madrid
were plump (like the Sawyer's 18-month old granddaughter) because their mothers got too little to eat.
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1941-02-08 (February 8, 1941)
Sawyer, Wilbur A.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Controlling Disease during World War II, 1939-1944
We have been here four days and will be pushing on toward Marseilles this evening. We travel by train this time as we couldn't
get seats on the plane. There is an Am. Red Cross Commission of five persons here, with Col. Crockett as Chairman. They
are to supervise the distribution of the wheat that is shortly to arrive from America. The need for it is extreme. I may
bring you a sample if I can resist gnawing on it. At this hotel we get enough other food, but it is very expensive and mostly
out of reach of the common people.
I am sending my diary on in installments and you will
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doubtless have seen all the recent items by the time this letter arrives. The rest I can tell you when I get to Hastings.
All goes well with us, but we continue to have interesting experiences, and travel is not normal.
Ambassador Weddell and Mrs. Weddell gave us a delightful luncheon at the Legation. It is in a lovely old Palace with extensive
grounds right in the heart of the city.
Last evening we went to a cafe with unusually good string music. It was a revelation to observe how still the hundreds of
people were when the music was playing. Even the waiters were
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noiseless and conversation stopped. How different from the Casino at Estoril where everyone tried to shout loud enough to
be heard above the blaring of the jazz band!
I have received no mail from you except the letter Dr. Parran brought, but there may be some in Lisbon for me by now.
It will be grand to get home and see you all. I presume it will be difficult to recognize the baby by now. There are very
few plump babies like her here in Madrid. The mothers get too little to eat.
Give my love to all the family and retain the large share for yourself, Dear Sweetheart.