An Address by MRS. OGDEN REID
Chairman of the Board New York Herald Tribune
Thursday, February 10th, 1955
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. James H. Joyce.
MR. JOYCE: Our speaker today-Mrs. Ogden Mills Reid - and her publication - The New York Herald Tribune-are well and favourably known to Canadian and United States audiences.
A dynamo in New York newspaper circles for 37 years, and long recognized as the First Lady of U.S. journalism, Helen Rogers Reid (as she is better known) was recently rated as one of the world's ten most outstanding women.
Born in Appleton, Wisconsin, the youngest in a family of eleven, Mrs. Reid entered Barnard College at the age of 16, worked in the Treasurer's office to help put herself through college, majored in Greek and, Biology and graduated in 1903. She became a Barnard Trustee in 1914 and has been chairman of the Board of Trustees since 1947.
Upon graduation she took the position of secretary to Mrs. Whitelaw Reid two years before Mr. Whitelaw Reid became Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Eight years later she married Ogden Reid who succeeded his father as editor of the New York Herald Tribune.
On November 1, 1918, her two sons being of school age, Mrs. Reid joined the Herald Tribune (then the New York Tribune) as a member of the advertising staff - originally as a solicitor, later as director of the advertising department. In 1922 she became vice-president and, on the death of Mr. Ogden Reid in 1947, she became president. In 1953 she was made chairman of the board. Her older son, Whitelaw Reid, is now President and editor, and her other son, Ogden Rogers Reid, is vice-president and president of the European edition.
Mrs. Reid tells me that one of the highlights of her life was receiving the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Toronto in 1947. Mrs. Reid holds honorary degrees from 14 universities or colleges in the United States.
MRS. REID: To many of us living in the States, Canadians seem to have had a magic wand in achieving economic wonders and we are wide-eyed with admiration for your widespread prosperity. Instead of a willow wand for finding water you have had the scientific variety of wand that discovers oil, natural gas and the most precious of minerals. Also, your particular kind of storybook record appears to be firmly based on solid ground or embedded in rock under the ground. After the war years and the long period of restrictions, which you gallantly accepted, you have emerged with success so great that it has made news for the whole world. Undoubtedly, too, you have only scratched the surface of resources between Toronto and the Arctic Ocean. The fact that your riches stem from scientific discoveries and adventurous exploration gives promise of unknown progress ahead. Even without a crystal ball it is almost easy to foresee an exciting future.
We are living, of course, in what is called the electronic and atomic age but presumably we have experienced only the first small sample of what that means. When Faraday produced the first electric current-130 years ago-he did not dream of the amazing future that he had made possible with the use of electricity. Marconi also had no thought of broadcasting, television or radar when he sent the first faint wireless signal through the air fifty years ago. Today, with the basic tools these men provided startling events are taking place far more rapidly. A decade produces miracles and even the span of five years turns dreams into reality. The General Electric Company has stated in connection with electronic and atomic energy "that we expect to produce more in the next 10 years than in all the previous 75 years of our existence."
Unfortunately, it took a war to discover the power of the atom, and people are having a difficult time in adjusting themselves psychologically to its capacity for good as well as evil. They are haunted by its birth for destructive purposes and they still have no concept of its life-giving qualities, although one noble characteristic of the atom may be the fact that its sheer power for total destruction can also be the power for ending wars, providing trigger-happy people do not set off a fuse. Scientific minds are only beginning to understand and master the contents and character of the atmosphere in which we live but progress takes place when the brain of man explores and harnesses elements that have always existed - instead of fighting them. Startling results may come from a genuine partnership between brains and the forces of nature itself - forces that we have taken for granted in almost a mythological way rather than as God-given assets for men to utilize when their mind matures. Man has lived with the atoms since his beginning but only recently has be found that he can split and organize them to benefit civilization. In addition to their usefulness in medicine, they may be made as routine an asset to human living through their conversion to electricity as water is-or at least water on this continent. In other words, it is possible that electric power developed from nuclear fuels can become so much cheaper than electricity made today from fossil fuels-namely, coal and oil-that we may be able to buy electricity for housekeeping and industry at a rate so low that it will not have to be metered. We will merely pay a moderate fixed price per year. Admiral Strauss, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, has stated that in his opinion this will happen within the lifetime at least of our grandchildren, and perhaps sooner.
Another resource in nature which has scarcely been touched is solar energy. We think of the sun more or less as a charitable institution that makes daytime possible, that helps food to grow and that generally adds to the joys of life, although we know that, like the atom, it can also kill. But its real power for other types of service has never been developed. One illustration which you have probably heard about is the solar cooking stove. It is still in the process of development but it has infinite possibilities for tropical countries. A friend of mine, Dr. Maria Telkes, formerly of M.I.T., who is now doing research work in connection with the stove at New York University will some day make it available for mass manufacture so that it can be used with dramatic success in India, Africa or any place where there is a wealth of sunshine and no fuel. Last Friday she cooked a meal in her New York laboratory when the temperature outside was below zero and she was able, with half an hour of sun, to produce heat of 425 degrees in her stove. Mr. Nehru, I am told, is greatly interested in what an appliance of this kind can do for India when it can be produced in quantities at a low price. Five dollars is probably the outside figure. Perhaps the heart of Mr. Nehru will warm towards us more if we can help with warming food for his people!
The same scientist of solar stove fame heated successfully a home in Massachusetts which you undoubtedly read about in your papers several years ago. She believes it can be equally well air-cooled in summer with the use of solar storage batteries.
Another great value that solar energy can contribute to the world is in the distilling of salt water. Small units have been successfully developed for life rafts and there are two plants in operation - one in Massachusetts and one in San Francisco Bay operated by the University of California - but nothing has been tried on a large scale. The experiments, however, have revealed that any amount of ocean water can be separated from the salt and used for irrigation in desert areas or wherever more water is needed. Even polluted water can be purified. The fear of losing a supply of water essential for the increasing population of our earth can therefore be eliminated and as soon as more capital is available to put into the project of working with solar energy, new fortunes may well be made.
There are also by-product assets in the salt itself and other minerals mixed with it.
A third door to an exciting future is the sky. In the defense picture Canada has specialized in the building of a superb jet engine, the Orenda, as well as the CF100 interceptor fighting plane, and your Defense Research Board is developing guided missiles-all of which can play an important part in peacetime activity. The point is that every defense development now can in future contribute to air service for better living in the same way as atomic energy. In the January issue of "Fortune" General David Sarnoff says that guided misslies will be able to transport mail and freight over great distances - transcontinental and transoceanic - and will be guided into terminal hangars within minutes after their take-off.
I have recently seen an extraordinary short picture that is to be given general distribution and will be certain to reach Canada before long. It is called The Supersonic Age and it dramatizes in a breathtaking way new plane models that have been produced by English designers. Whether Canada or the United States has done as much in this creative line I do not know but there has been news of your super-secret "Project Y" - a disc-shaped fighter plane that is reportedly capable of attaining a speed of 1,500 miles per hour from a vertical take-off.
Along with supersonic planes we have another phenomenon in our midst that cannot be laughed off-flying saucers. Many people have relegated this subject to the area of the ridiculous but certain unexplainable facts remain and a carefully screened net owes much to the testimony of Canadians.
Since 1900 there have been thousands of recorded cases of objects in the sky which have had the characteristics of meteors or atmospheric peculiarities. Too many hard-headed pilots or scientists on the ground have seen substantial objects which were apparently being flown by direction from within the objects and with the ability to change their course abruptly in a way unknown to our aviation experts. (Experience of airline pilot) Serious and secret studies are, I understand, being made by various governments, including that of Great Britain, the United States and no doubt Canada. Meanwhile it is estimated that approximately 10% of the flying saucer observations made by reliable persons are beyond understanding and they give substance to a phenomenon about which we need to know more. Trustworthy people who have placed their evidence on government record are convinced that the saucer objects are of interplanetary origin with Venus as the likely planet. In France, which, except for Italy, has been the origin of more recent "flying saucer" reports than any other nation in Europe, the magazine "Express" has offered a reward of 10,000,000 francs (about $28,570) to the first person to bring a visitor from outer space into its offices. Meanwhile, this interplanetary idea can have a healthy influence on the egocentric people who believe that the earth - with a sun, moon and stars set up for its special benefit - is the sum total of everything plus, of course, Heaven and Hell. We may come ultimately to knowledge that God created a universe far vaster and more complicated than our earth-centered imaginations have dreamed of.
Canada and the United States have had so many common interests that the result has been a relationship spectacular among other neighbor nations of the world but perhaps there are still unknown opportunities for our scientists and economists to work together in a way that will produce a new kind of leadership in the world. Toronto has certainly become a dynamic engine in all that is developing in Canada and scientific engineers with mutual confidence on both sides of our dividing line may unite us even more strongly. Meanwhile, we share the possibilities of unknown drama during the next 20 years in the three fields I have mentioned - atomic energy, solar energy and the sky.
In the area of government, Sir Winston Churchill made the statement a number of years ago that Canada is the linchpin between the British Commonwealth and the United States. This is a meaningful metaphor but in addition to your being a static' force in terms of iron or steel you are a creative one in exploring new ideas. You have also contributed many human values to our country. It was stirring news to many and very moving when George McCullagh, the late owner of your great paper, the Globe and Mail, made the statement in a New York speech that 48,000 Canadians fought in the armies of the North in our Civil War and that 18,000 gave their lives for the preservation of the Union. This terrific fact in the history of our two countries had not been known to me and is I believe still unknown to most of our citizens. Mr. McCullagh was a great unofficial ambassador from your country to ours and his powers for developing understanding were unequalled. His tragic death was mourned as a loss to all North America.
Another great act of friendliness as well as economic wisdom on the part of your country took place when it changed its currency from pounds and pence to dollars and cents to facilitate trade between our two nations. This undoubtedly has been a big factor in the enormous investment that Americans have made in Canadian enterprises. Ten years ago it was $4,000,000,000 - today it is well over five billion. Nothing perhaps makes for closer ties between people than mutually successful investments and I hope we shall continue to put our money together into important developments, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway and the uranium fields.
Now if you will forgive me I would like to point to one cause on which our two countries have differed and on which I have never been able to understand the thinking of your leaders, even as distinguished a one as your Governor General, The Right Hon. Vincent Massey. In addition to your country's basic relation to Great Britain and your vital part in the Commonwealth of Nations, you occupy a large space in the Western Hemisphere - almost 25% - and I cannot believe that your loyalty overseas interferes in the least with your becoming a part of the Organization of American States for the preservation of peace and other standards of fair play throughout North, South and Central America. It would be a wonderful evolution if this kind of unity in the western world could take place. There could also be additional strength from another Commonwealth Federation made up of Caribbean islands according to a plan recently announced by the British government. Even Sir Winston Churchill has now gone on record in favor of England's cooperation with Europe as a regional responsibility in addition to its basic leadership in the Commonwealth.
Perhaps all of you in this room disagree with the idea but I trust that you will at least keep open minds and give it some renewed thinking. Through your part in the Commonwealth you helped to create a prototype of the United Nations, and the success of an Empire's evolution into an organization of free nations gave inspiration to the whole world but I hope the day will come when Canada will wish to give support to its own regional area as well as to the Commonwealth and the United Nations.
There are no words for expressing my appreciation of your hospitality today. I feel, however, that it is not so much an honor to myself as to the important field of journalism in which I have had the chance to work. Your own experience in reading and being responsible for the excellent newspapers of Canada enables you to know what they mean to the high purposes of a nation. In spite of some differences in the news standards among them, the world owes a great debt to the freedom of the press in North America. Except for papers in England, it has performed a service beyond that of any other part of the world. Through your having furnished the basic ingredient for most newspapers in the United States, as well as all of your own, you have made a great contribution to this democratic process. Newsprint is your largest export and its importance to good relations between our two countries cannot be over estimated. It is a special tie and a special responsibility.
There are many links in our chain of mutual understanding - our common belief in a democratic form of government, our security requirements against a common enemy, our love of new frontiers - but the biggest potential for the future may come from the kind of co-operation in which our best scientific minds will master and draft for work the natural resources - not only those within the ground, but also those above the ground, in the air around us, in the sea and in the far reaches of the sky. This horizon has no limits for Canada and the United States and it can become a continuing news story for all time.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. John Griffin, a Past President of the Club.