Eleanor Roosevelt -- My Day (1943)

Eleanor Roosevelt V Norman


By Eleanor Roosevelt

January 1, 1943

Washington – (Thursday)
This is New Year’s Eve and all of us with an old-fashioned background are thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. I imagine, this is a year when there are a good many resolutions being made by all of us.

My first resolution would be to try to keep my attitude toward life as cheerful as possible in these serious times. There are so many things that force seriousness upon us and so many people who, for one reason and another, face tragic situations which cannot be ignored, that wherever it is possible, those of us who may bring a cheerful spirit to life, should do so.

It is impossible to suggest that we change our whole attitude and become as stoical as the British people, but I think we might take a leaf out of their book and learn to accept the inevitable with as little comment as possible. We know that, as civilians, we are going to feel more and more the shortages brought about by war.

Every now and then some irritated person writes me calling this war either the President’s war or the Roosevelt war. Of course, it is both, because it is everybody’s war in a greater measure than any war has ever been before.

The whole world is involved in this war and whether you belonged to America First, or believe in the Nazis and the Fascists, you are nevertheless now involved in it. You, irritated letter writer, did your best to stay out of it; perhaps you were willing to accept Hitler and Hirohito domination. If you were, you contributed to the delay in fully preparing for the war. Nevertheless, you suffer with us today and you will in the future, and the sooner we all put our shoulders to the wheel, realizing that we are no longer an isolated nation, but part of a family of nations, the sooner we shall meet conditions where our New Year’s resolutions may be concerned with normal life.

At the National Christmas Service this year, the Reverend Howard Stone Anderson, in preaching his sermon, read us a jingle which his elderly mother sent him. I think it well illustrates the attitude of mind in which we should approach our New Year’s resolution. Here are some lines from it:

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
The only one able to stir was a mouse.
The rest of the family, from papa on down,
Were soundly asleep after hiking from town.
There was Sis in her WAAC suit, and Bud wearing wings,
Reminding us gravely of war’s bitter stings;
But old Santa, that jolly American elf,
Said “We won’t let them put Uncle Sam on the shelf!”
And I think he exclaimed, though my hearing is hard,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a ‘B’ card.”

January 2, 1943

Washington – (Friday)
Last night we gathered at midnight in the President’s study and drank the usual toasts. The first one was to the United States, then we added one to the United Nations before we drank our customary toast to absent members of our family and friends.

I think that the second toast is a very significant one, because it means that we really are conscious of this bond between the United Nations. To us it is a permanent bond, one that must keep us together in war and in peace and gradually extend so that it eventually draws all the nations into a circle of friendship.

When the war is over, we must build machinery whereby any difficulties which arise may be adjudicated, but now we can build within ourselves a loyalty to the United Nations ideal and a determination that it shall triumph in the world.

We can face this new year with a greater sense of confidence than we had a year ago, and with a high hope that it may bring us nearer to our ultimate goal. A year ago we knew that we had long months of waiting and work ahead before we could do much to insure victory and peace.

Looking back over the past year, I think we can all feel that in spite of criticism and mistakes, a very great achievement lies behind us. The men who work in our war industries, from the workmen to the management; the men here in Washington, who work in all the branches of the government; can feel that their success has been outstanding. We should never, of course, be so contented that we are complacent. There is always room for hard work and extra striving, but I think we average citizens can feel both confidence and gratitude.

At the beginning of this New Year, I want to say one word to the women of the country, with whom I feel a very special bond. We have the same anxieties and the same sense of frustration very often, because we feel we cannot do enough in the great war effort. I have a very great pride in the spirit of the women of this country.

Wherever they are needed, they always meet the full demands made on them, whether these requirements are in the home, in the factory or in any other field of endeavor. None of us can ever be satisfied with ourselves, but we can be proud of the aggregate training which the women of the country are making. I feel that this contribution is growing day by day and will be recognized more fully as this year develops.

January 4, 1943

Washington – (Sunday)
The January magazines, as a whole, it seems to me, provide us with a great deal of interesting reading. There are several articles which are particularly interesting to people with children. Among them, John K. Springer’s article, “The Battle For Child Health,” shows that our birth rate is going up in this country and makes some valuable suggestions on how to meet the problem of keeping our children well, in spite of the lack of doctors on the home front.

Miss Katharine Lenroot, head of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, writes a few words of introduction to this article. Dr. John W. Studebaker, U.S. Commissioner of Education, writes a few words to introduce an article by Raymond Nathan on the way our schools are mobilizing to prepare our youth:

…for the realities of the world in which they find themselves.

David Cushman Coyle, who is to me one of the stimulating writers on economic questions, has an article on “Planning A World Of Plenty.” In it he points out that we are learning things in these hard war years that may be valuable in teaching us how to live better in the future.

One of my hopes is that, because we are forced to do certain things now, we may find them really interesting, pleasant and worth doing at all times. We may become better neighbors and live together more happily in our communities, because of what we learn in this period.

Miss Dorothy Thompson has sent me the “Christmas Declaration,” which was released on Monday, December 28, to the newspapers. It is signed by loyal Americans of German descent and addressed to the German people. It is a fine appeal and we hope that it may reach many of the people now under the Nazi heel in Germany and make them realize that there is faith in this country that some of the fine German qualities we knew in the past still exist among the people there.

In the Washington Post yesterday, there was an editorial addressed to the American people, which I hope will be widely read. It spoke of the fact that we had allowed mob violence to increase in two or three of our states, and one of our minority groups had been 5 times the victim of this type of mass murder.

It quoted Virginius Dabney, writing currently, and pointing out that three of these lynchings had occurred in a state where a man in this minority group had announced that he would run for office. The editorial is one that I think all of us should read and take to heart, for we cannot be trusted to deal justly with the rest of the world if we do not deal justly at home.

January 5, 1943

New York – (Monday)
This is January 5, the day on which the Victory Book Campaign for 1943 starts. There is one thing which every one of us can do, no matter how busy we are. We can go through our bookshelves and send to the headquarters in our particular locality, the books which we feel will be enjoyed by the officers and men of the Army, Navy, Marines and Merchant Marine.

I found in Great Britain that the boys in the hospitals wanted every possible kind of book. Some of them were studying for special occupations, like radio and auto mechanics. Many of them wanted to know more about astronomy. Some of them even want to study geology. All of them need entertainment, and the detective or Western story, full of thrill and excitement, will take them out of the happenings of the moment, which may be difficult today.

Many of them are trying to learn something about the countries in which they find themselves, and so biographies, books of travel, historical novels, all books that are up to date, will be interesting to the men in our armed forces.

If each one of us does our best, this campaign will be a success, but unless each one of us contributes, there will not be enough books. If you were far away from home, books would be the things that would mean the most to you in your leisure time. So, think of those who defend us in camps, on ships and on fighting fronts all over the world, and let’s get busy today and provide the biggest collection of Victory Books we have ever had in this country.

I am always interested in the little Christmas books, which are published every year. I was specially fortunate this year, because some friends in Texas sent me Hendrik van Loon’s The Message of the Bells, or what happened to us on Christmas Eve. It is a simple short narrative with charming illustrations and I am glad Dr. van Loon heard his “own” bells, for it must have given him hope for his Holland which he so dearly loves and has worked for during these years of her suffering.

Fannie Hurst sent me her little story of White Christmas in Washington. Into it she has woven the faith and hope of every American when a child is born. We pray that its chances for real opportunity and development shall be equal to those of any other child in this free nation of ours.

Last but not least, is Alexander W. Armour’s A Heart Warming Experience. I imagine the lesson he wants to convey is that nothing ever happens to any of us which we can not bear if we approach it in the proper spirit. Many of us may need to remember that in the course of the next few years.

January 6, 1943

New York – (Tuesday)
Miss Thompson and I rose early yesterday morning in order to reach New York City in time for one or two appointments at my apartment, before we went to the opening of the Theatre Wing Canteen for Merchant Seamen.

The train was an hour late so we did considerable work on it. However, it made me rather breathless in catching up with appointments and being ready to leave the house at three thirty.

Mr. John Golden and all the wonderful people who are responsible for the American Theatre Wing Canteens, should be proud of the job which has been done in making this club so attractive. The game room downstairs is one the men will enjoy. The library is a delightful room in which to sit and rest and read.

I went down to the kitchen and saw the volunteers for the day working hard. I envied the men the delicious looking pies and sniffed at the coffee pots, also somewhat covetously.

As we came out, the sailors were beginning to crowd their way in. I feel sure that with the talents which the Theatre wing always provides, this is going to be another of those popular canteens. There is no group more deserving of recognition than the men in the Merchant Marine, who are fighting the war in, perhaps, the most courageous way possible, because there is so little they can do to defend themselves when attacked.

One man told me that he had been at the opening with me of the Glasgow Merchant Seamen’s club, and another said he had sailed out of Glasgow the day I arrived there. The North Atlantic is no pleasant spot during the winter months and it takes courage and endurance to keep on going back and forth.

I read an article the other day which was an evaluation of the Negro press in this country. It seemed to me that the author, Mr. Brown, has done an extraordinarily fair and constructive piece of writing. He differentiated between the various papers, but he pointed out that for the most part, very few of the Negro newspapers are concerned primarily with giving news.

This, I think, is one of their weaknesses, because it means a less well informed reading public and prevents their being considered on a par with other newspapers. There is some very good writing in some of them, but there are also some articles which are regrettable from many points of view.

I left last night on the train for Syracuse, New York. I am speaking at Syracuse University three times during the morning and returning to New York City by an afternoon train.

January 7, 1943

New York – (Wednesday)
When I stepped off the train in Syracuse, New York, yesterday morning, I went directly to the Onondaga Hotel, which is associated in my mind with so many state conventions and meetings of various kinds, that I always feel I am in familiar surroundings. A friend of mine came to breakfast with me, and at 10:00, Dean Eunice Hilton, and Mrs. Tolley, the wife of the new Chancellor of Syracuse University called for me.

I devoted the morning to the distaff side of the University. There are some 2,000 girl students, so my first talk was to them. From 11:00 to 12:00, I talked to a class made up in part of undergraduates and in part of graduate students. My topic was on the responsibility of women in the postwar period.

After a brief conference with the press, I attended a luncheon of the faculty women and wives of men on the faculty. During the luncheon, word came that all the trains were delayed and we began the usual fruitless efforts to discover whether some train would come through early enough to reach New York City before my evening engagement.

I had a group of people meeting at my apartment here for some discussion, and then to hear Mr. Earl Robinson play his new Lincoln composition, which impressed me so much when he came to Washington to play it for us. Needless to say, the train was very late coming into Syracuse, and was later as we progressed into Albany, and finally down the Hudson River.

I was glad I had arranged for a second hostess to welcome my guests, though I did some worrying as to what was happening. I really enjoyed the trip down and had a pleasant talk with a young naval officer while I ate my evening meal. He was returning to duty and had said goodbye to his wife and small child before shipping out. He was wondering whether these last few days didn’t make it harder to face the final parting. I sometimes wonder myself, and yet I think that in retrospect a man will go over and over each detail of the visit and it may help him through some lonely hours later on.

I reached my apartment in time to hear Mr. Robinson sing and play, and I found that the impression made by the Lincoln composition was even greater on second hearing.

I am off in a few minutes to do a recording and a variety of errands and to attend several meetings during the day.

January 8, 1943

Washington – (Thursday)
I called on Mr. Alexander Woollcott yesterday afternoon and he certainly has found an ideal place in which to work in New York City. It is high up, with a wonderful panorama of the city on every level all about him.

Afterwards I had a few minutes to stop in to see an exhibition of war satires and miniatures by Arthur Szyk at the Seligman Galleries on East 57th St. This exhibition is sponsored by the Writers’ War Board. I know of no other miniaturist doing quite this kind of work. In its way it fights the war against Hitlerism as truly as any of us who cannot actually be on the fighting fronts today. I cannot say you would enjoy the exhibition, but I am quite sure you would find it extremely interesting.

In the late afternoon I met with a group interested in child care in the Civilian Defense Volunteer office of Greater New York. I do not know whether I had much that was helpful to tell them, yet I feel that in some ways we are doing as much for the care of small children and older children in this country as is being done in Great Britain. Necessity drives the British to have more day nurseries and resident nurseries – and possibly better ones. But I think we probably have more possibilities for recreation for every age, even though we have not yet begun to use them to the full extent that we will in time.

They are doing more all the time in Great Britain with the fourteen to 18-year-old youngsters who are out of school and not yet of draft age. But the pressure of war needs has made this program develop rather slowly over there, and I think the basic fact that we keep our children in school longer is of great assistance to us.

Another committee meeting in the evening and I made the midnight train back to Washington.

I told my husband this morning the story of a young Marine I met in Syracuse, which I thought would please him. I noticed that in getting out of the car at the university and moving about from place to place there was always the same young Marine opening the door, so I finally stopped to ask him whether he was connected with the university.

His answer was:

No, ma’am. I’m home on furlough, but I heard you were coming in town and they teach us that wherever you and the President are, the Marines have to look after you, so I came right on down to do that till you leave town.

The President remarked that that was truly the spirit of the Marines!

We are just off for the Capitol.

January 9, 1943

Washington – (Friday)
It was very interesting to get a glimpse of the new Congress and to watch the reaction to the President’s speech on the floor and in the galleries. Because of my partial deafness I do not always hear every word of the speech, in spite of complete concentration. However, I find that with every speech that is worthwhile, one should read it several times in order to better understand its full meaning.

The President’s uncle, Mr. Frederic Delano, went into the Capitol with me and as we went up in the elevator he remarked that each message seemed to have an increasing significance, beginning with the first one when we were facing an unparalleled economic struggle in this country, to the present one when in spite of our greater hopefulness in military fields we face an unknown future for which we will have to find a new solution. We are all adventuring in many different fields of thought and action.

After we left the Capitol, I went directly to a meeting of the Council of Personnel Administration. Dr. Davenport was presiding and they interrupted their business to let me talk to them for a little while on the British war situation. Then I answered questions and was surprised to find that it was a quarter before three when I left.

A very interesting woman came to see me in the afternoon, Mrs. Mabel Farrington Gifford, who is in charge in California of the program for teaching children who have speech impediments. Mrs. Gifford is going to send me something about the methods and the results which they have obtained, so I shall write a little more about it later on.

Last night, I attended the Marian Anderson concert, given for Chinese relief. As every seat was filled in Constitution Hall, I am quite sure it was a successful financial undertaking. Miss Anderson’s program was beautiful and she was certainly most enthusiastically received. It was a significant evening not only from the artistic point of view but from the social point of view.

I have had word from the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry, which is sponsoring a United Nations Week beginning January 14 and continuing through January 20, that about 16,000 motion picture theaters will cooperate in cementing the friendly relations between our country and the Allied Nations and in raising funds for the relief committee of these nations. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has prepared, under the direction of the theater committee, a special short subject, You, John Jones. It will be shown in all these theaters and will be followed by a collection after each performance.

January 11, 1943

Washington – (Sunday)
Like every other family, we in the White House are trying to adjust to the new war rules for civilians. I had not read my paper the other evening and so I went out to a concert in the way in which I would ordinarily have gone.

To my horror the next morning I read all the rules and realized I had unwittingly broken one of them, using a car for pure pleasure even though I went to a war benefit.

Friday evening I dined with a friend but luckily it was near enough to walk both ways. During the day it was possible to walk to my only other engagements outside the White House. Yesterday morning I had promised to speak to a group of young people who are doing salvage work. I also had an appointment out at the Naval Hospital. Fortunately the two dovetailed very nicely and I think this is the last time I shall have to use a car in Washington, for anything aside from taking bags to the station, until the present emergency is over.

As far as food goes, I find the adjustment to those regulations is very easy and I do not think we will have to resort to the substitutes which one of my friends in Great Britain told me about. In spite of the strict rationing, she wrote that she was entertaining some 32 extra people nearly every week at meals, which required a good deal of planning since there were only three or four ration cards in her family. But she had a cottage with a garden in the country and has been able to bring up from there a variety of vegetables.

Their growing season is longer than ours, which makes a great difference. Besides, she found she could serve as a main dish stuffing, well seasoned with herbs grown in her garden and covered with a rich brown sauce.

There is undoubtedly a great deal of talent scattered throughout our Armed Forces today, but I doubt if any young man in any army wrote as many rhymes and sent them around at Christmas time as did Pvt. Peter McLaren Forin of Buffalo, New York, who is in the Canadian Army. I think it speaks well for our fighting forces when a private can send Gen. Wavell a Christmas poem and get an answer and that answer comes in rhyme. There is certainly plenty of fight left in us when we can take time out to ride our hobbies in the midst of war.

A few people dropped in for lunch yesterday and then I put in a full afternoon of work at my desk. My friend, Mrs. George S. Huntington, is with us for a short visit. It is wonderful to see the spirit in which, despite having undergone many operations and the need of a cane, she has achieved walking. She manages to go quite a number of blocks and to use public conveyances. As a result she is not cut off entirely from what she wants to do even during the period of present restrictions.

January 12, 1943

Washington – (Monday)
Owing to the fact that my daughter and son-in-law, who were coming in from Seattle, Washington, by train yesterday morning to do some very urgent business here in Washington, arrived several hours late, I spent some time in the Union Station waiting for them.

I think I signed several hundred autographs in the USO lounge and I talked about my British visit to a number of boys. I noticed one boy, with an MP band on his arm, standing around for quite a time and I later found that he was from Albany, New York, and that he had worked in the Ten Eyck Hotel, so he had often seen my husband and myself when we lived in Albany. I suppose, not being able to get home, it gave him a sense of being nearer home to talk to someone who knew his hometown.

In the afternoon I went to the exhibition, at the Pan-American building, of a photographic contest held in eighteen American republics. I thought the photographs were particularly interesting because they showed such a good cross section of each country that one really saw what the whole country was like.

There are some really beautiful photographs among them, both of scenery and of types of people. I never realized before how similar all old people become, no matter how different their types may be in middle age!

There also are some very interesting wooden carvings in a room just opposite the room in which the photographic exhibition is held. All in all, I think there is a great deal of interest to be found in the Pan-American building. So I was glad to find a good many people there and hope the experiment of opening it on Sunday afternoons will be successful.

I walked up from there with two young girls who had just come from the Deep South to work in Washington and who were seeing their first snowstorm. They both seemed very happy about their experiences and work here, which was pleasant to find. I left them at the Corcoran Art Gallery to go in to look at Eliot O’Hara’s watercolors, which are on sale there for the benefit of the Russian Relief Fund. These watercolors were painted in Russia in '39, before the war reached the country. They are beautiful in color and they gave me more sense of sunshine and of the Oriental influence on Russian architecture that I previously had.

A few friends had supper with us last evening and we saw a short film of our visit in Great Britain, which was sent us by Mr. Brendan Bracken, the British Minister of Information, and then a film entitled A Journey for Margaret, which I hope a great many people in this country may see. The spirit and feel of it is very remarkable.

January 13, 1943

Washington – (Tuesday)
Yesterday at the White House was a sad day, because of the funeral of young Mrs. Charles Claunch, the wife of the junior usher at the White House.

The world seems so full of sorrow for so many people these days. I think all the people of our country must sympathize with the British Ambassador and Lady Halifax, who have borne so bravely the death of one son, and now have to be so far away from their second son, who is lying critically wounded somewhere in the fighting zone. One can only hope that modern science, which has made some extraordinary advances, may help this boy and many others to regain, if not complete health, at least sufficient wellbeing so that life may be both useful and pleasant.

I had a press conference yesterday morning, which Mrs. Florence Kerr attended. She told us some of the things which had been done to make the closing of the WPA projects a little easier for men and women who can still work on them, though they are transferred to the direction of other agencies. It is interesting to find that so many things that WPA has started have become of use to the community, so that they can be taken over and continued because they are necessary to the community life or to the war effort.

There is one thing which I am becoming more and more concerned about. In some states, elementary and grade schools are closing. This means that children will be deprived of their basic education, which is absolutely essential, because without it no child can go on educating himself. In the early days of our history, many of our great men did much toward their own education. But they obtained the basic tools, such as the ability to read and write, and the fundamental knowledge of arithmetic, from the itinerant teacher, if it was not available in any regular schools.

I am really fearful that, if we do not do some very drastic reorganization of the salaries and preparation of our teachers, we may find ourselves with a lower basis of actual literacy when the war period is over than we have in the past. It was fairly clearly brought out by the draft that we need more education and not less in this country.

Last night I spoke at the Labor Auditorium for the Emergency Food and Housing Corps. It was a well-attended meeting and some very interesting films were shown.

I took the midnight train for West Virginia with the members of the Arthurdale Advisory Committee. We are having our last meeting down here, because the community is now in large part out of the hands of the government and in the hands of the people themselves.

January 14, 1943

Washington – (Wednesday)
In Arthurdale, West Virginia, yesterday, we had breakfast with the manager of the project and his wife in a little house on top of the hill overlooking the woods and below the valley dotted by project houses.

I think we often forget that these projects were all started at a time when thousands and thousands of people in this country not only were out of work, but had been out of work for three to five years in this particular area. Today all the mines are working and everyone is busy.

Nevertheless, no matter how many mistakes were made, it is somehow heartening to find that people who seemed to have lost all their initiative, who had gone through such hardships, whose children could always be spotted because they looked so thin and ill, have been able to come back.

There were times that people working with them despaired, because these projects were relief projects, never using skilled workmen but people who had to work for the government in order to live. For various reasons they were not always very efficient. Today, owing to the war, no one is out of work, but never again can they face the same low level they once reached.

When the war comes to an end, they will at least have their houses and their ground. The payments will be moderate, and we know that, somehow, our economy at the end of this war, must be so managed that thousands of people will not face the fate which fell upon them after the boom period which followed the last war.

Right after the breakfast, we drove over to Scotts Run to the community center near the mine which had a recent disaster. I talked with several women who lost their husbands. One woman, Mrs. Quinn, has reason to be very proud of her man, who was a foreman. He got out and then went back to save, if he could, the thirteen men who happened to turn toward the fire instead of away from it. He was caught by the fire and died. I hope there is some way of obtaining recognition for a civilian hero who dies for his fellow men.

Then we returned to the project, saw the remarkble NYA training center, which is training 92 girls and 60 younger boys for industry, and held a meeting of our committee.

January 15, 1943

Washington – (Thursday)
I must say I was fairly sleepy after the day spent in Arthurdale, West Virginia, for we finally returned to Washington in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A good sleep, even if it is short, will do a great deal, and so breakfast found me much interested in an opportunity to talk for a little while with Miss Charlotte Carr.

I had come up to New York City yesterday to speak at Columbia University at their Institute of Arts and Sciences. Today I am going to New Jersey, where Mrs. Lewis Thompson is meeting me and taking me to the Marlboro Hospital, and then to Fort Monmouth to lunch at the USO Club and to the Monmouth County Social Service annual meeting.

I shall dine informally tonight with Mr. and Mrs. Louis Payne, in the interests of the Young Men’s Vocational Foundation of New York. Though there are very few boys who need help now, the problem of the girls coming out of reformatories is becoming a serious one, which this group thinks should not be entirely abandoned at the present time.

It is interesting to me how many people are suddenly awakening to the importance of women’s education from a variety of angles. In the course of the last few days, I have received a most absorbing account of Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine. Here they are specializing in teaching girls the art of home making in a very practical way.

The letter which accompanies the account of their work, stresses the fact that they are not only teaching them how to cook, to clean, to budget their money and to buy the necessary things; but they include all the interests of homemaking – clothing, the care of children and the necessary community activities which make the homemaker a real factor in her community.

They encourage their girls to enter all the war activities of their community – first aid, canteen work, nursing and the various drives to collect aluminum, waste paper, tin and other materials. In the letter giving the account of what they are doing there is a sentence all of us should remember, no matter what other occupation we have in life. It is:

Being an efficient, alert home maker these days is a man-sized job and… includes more than a casual observer might think.

I also have a most interesting letter emphasizing the reason why girls who are able to go to college, should go in greater numbers than ever before to receive an education which will make them valuable to their country in many ways.

January 16, 1943

Washington – (Friday)
Yesterday was certainly a day packed full of interest. Mrs. Lewis Thompson met me and we visited the Marlboro Hospital for the Insane, in Monmouth County, New Jersey. It is extremely interesting because it is built on the cottage plan. This is by far the most successful way of treating patients with mental disorders, or for that matter, patients with any ailment that means a long period of hospitalization.

We met here with some of the group of Mennonites, who are conscientious objectors, and who have volunteered to serve in hospitals for mental cases. They are a very fine group of young men and bring a spiritual quality to their work because of their religion. In many ways, this is probably raising the standard of care given the patients.

From there we went to call on Gen. Van Dusen at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Here I saw a most interesting laboratory project where women are being trained to work in producing the necessary crystals for radio work. This is precision work, but requires only a high school education, though there are women working in this plant who have degrees of many kinds and, of course, do many other kinds of work.

I had a long talk with Gen. Clewell and Capt. Freedman, who are in charge of the psychiatric clinic here. This is the only complete clinic of its kind in a classification center and I cannot help believing that it should be duplicated in every classification center in the country, particularly now that 18- and 19-year-old boys are being inducted.

In New York City they have carried on an experiment in a small way with psychiatric social workers and nurses in the induction centers. Some schools have furnished histories of their graduates which can be used as background examinations at induction time. Even if this could be done everywhere which, of course, is not being done, there would still be a need for the more careful work that can be done at a classification center. All the military people who have watched this work attest to its usefulness, and are tremendously proud of what has been achieved at Fort Monmouth.

We had lunch in the USO cafeteria in Red Bank, New Jersey, which was crowded, so I sat on a stool at the counter and munched my sandwich and drank my cup of coffee. Then I met with the ladies of the press and attended the Monmouth County Social Welfare annual meeting and spoke on such aspects of the British scene, as might have some connection with the welfare work of the association.

But I have only half finished my day, and I shall have to tell you more about it tomorrow.

January 18, 1943

Washington – (Sunday)
This is Sunday, but I must still tell you about last Thursday!

In Monmouth County, New Jersey, last year, they had a small epidemic of infantile paralysis, and so they are already preparing for their “March of Dimes” this year. A recovered patient, a small boy of seven or eight, presented me with a bunch of flowers and asked me the following question:

Will there always be a “March of Dimes” Mrs. Roosevelt, to help little children like me to get well again?

I hope, of course, that scientists working with the research grants given through the collections obtained in these yearly drives, will someday find a preventive as well as a cure. I told the small boy that as long as children and adults suffer from this disease, there would always be help for them contributed by the nation.

Before I left the USO building, I went to the top floor with a group of soldiers who form, I imagine, a committee running the building. We saw the room in which wood-working, or painting, or toy making may be indulged in as a recreation by the men.

On leaving Red Bank, I went home with Mrs. Lewis Thompson for fifteen minutes of quiet talk with her and Commissioner Ellis. Then I was called for by Mrs. Louis Payne. Before going to her house to meet some people in the interests of the Young Men’s Vocational Foundation, we went back to Fort Monmouth, where Gen. Van Dusen showed me his recreation rooms for the men and a hostess house where relatives can stay.

Mrs. Payne has been instrumental in raising money, not only to make these rooms more livable than the government could, but she has also helped the chaplains make their chapels really beautiful. I only had time to see one, but it was so warm and lovely, very different from the usual bare post chapels.

Mrs. Payne must have spent many hours shopping and furnishing these various rooms, but I am sure every time she goes into them, the evident enjoyment of the men must bring her a great sense of satisfaction. It is quite evident that the officers on the post appreciate all that she has done.

On Friday morning, Miss Rose Schneiderman of the Women’s Trade Union League, came to breakfast with me. Then Miss Mary Acton Hammond came to tell me of her book on conditions in Great Britain, which she has written as a result of some time spent there for her newspaper. I have read some articles she wrote and found them readable, and feel that this book will be a real contribution to our mutual understanding when it comes out.

January 19, 1943

Washington – (Monday)
Here it is Monday and I am still writing about Saturday! I really did get badly behind. However, there is little to record on Saturday, except that I opened the “Mile of Dimes” by speaking over the radio for a few minutes and putting two pieces of silver on the line for the President and myself.

In the late afternoon I went down to talk to the workers in the United States Office of Education about my trip to Great Britain. Then, in the evening, I went on a complete tour, at least as complete as three hours could make it, of the recreation centers for servicemen in the District of Columbia. This was not my own idea, but a request from the committee.

I was very happy to go, since there are so many men in and out of Washington, for it seems to be both a place for recreation and for changing planes and trains to reach other parts of the country.

Yesterday morning, I spoke at the annual communion breakfast for the members of the Carroll Club. This club has for many years been a home and a great influence in the lives of thousands of girls who work in New York City. Mrs. Nicholas Brady, whose mother was deeply interested in it, was the moving spirit for many years of this organization.

Last evening I had supper and spoke at International House, and tonight I shall be on my way to Montréal, Canada. Many important groups throughout the Province of Québec are joining together to make this benefit for Russian Relief on Tuesday night a great success.

People are always writing me suggestions of one kind or another. I have one from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which really may have merit and meet a need in other parts of the country. They tell me that so many wives and children travel to see their husbands and fathers in army camps. They sometimes wait long hours in bus terminals and railroad stations, with no place to put the baby down for a few minutes except on the wooden benches.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, therefore, have provided cribs and baby baskets to relieve this need, and found that both the mothers and children seem very much happier. I should think that the problem of laundry and keeping mattresses clean might be more difficult than would at first appear.

Possibly, some cover can be arranged, which takes only a few minutes to wash off, and a pad which can be changed for every new baby that occupies the crib might be a safe covering. In any case, this is an idea which various organizations might like to consider if they find the same needs in their town, as seem to have developed in Tulsa.

January 20, 1943

New York – (Tuesday)
There is a school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they have formed a society which they call the “SIRS.” It stands for Sisters International Radio Society, and the executive secretary, Miss Jane Kettler, has written me two letters. I hope this radio school has given its pupils excellent training in radio, but whether it has or not, it certainly has given them enthusiasm and a vision of what lies before them in the way of opportunity after their basic training.

They tell me that many of them are studying the International Code in preparation for joining the WAACs and WAVES; that others are preparing to go into communications under the Civil Service Requirements. Others have been able to go into the local electrical manufacturing plant and gain promotions and feel great satisfaction because they are participating in a tangible way in the war effort.

I know that in many of the NYA projects, more and more girls are being trained in the fundamentals of radio work. I imagine that there are many industries also conducting schools for various occupations growing out of a knowledge of some kind of radio work.

I feel that girls and women who go into work now which has an opportunity for future development along new lines, are very wise. The men coming home have been promised that their jobs would be held for them, and without any question they should be. Therefore, I think women are wise to learn new trades, with a realization that, as population increases, we shall need not only more of the old goods, but we shall need more workers for new developments.

It is true that many inventions will curtail the need for manpower. We must also count on labor saving devices, because we shall want more goods at cheaper prices, and labor is usually the greatest cost. Therefore, new inventions are very important, since they are the surest way of increasing our need for labor.

I am interested to find that even among some of my own contemporaries, there is a growing feeling that the younger generation will come through this war with more vision, knowledge and imagination about the future than was the case with the men and women who were young after the last war. Therefore, we may rely on their pushing new ideas and accepting and developing them.

January 21, 1943

New York – (Wednesday)
I am most grateful to the people and officials of Canada for their kind welcome in Montréal. We had a rather busy day yesterday, but a very pleasant and most interesting one. A press conference had been arranged for me and then I paid a courtesy call on the Mayor and attended a fairly large luncheon.

In the afternoon, I was taken through one of the war plants which employs a considerable number of women. It is quite evident that the women of Canada are meeting their challenge in the same way the women are in the United States. Since Canada is part of the British Empire and many Canadian families travel back and forth to England and are closely tied to relatives in Great Britain, one feels the reality of the war more poignantly here than in the United States.

One occasionally feels this tie even in the United States. For instance, I felt that I had stepped into a church club in Scotland the other night, when I went to a USO club called “The Thistle.” Open to British sailors and merchant marine men, as well as to our own men in the services, I found that the women acting as hostesses were all Scotch, with good Scotch accents which had not worn off with their years in the United States.

That same thing might happen anywhere in Canada. I am sure they would sing “Auld Lang Syne” with as much feeling as they sang it for me in this little club in New York City the other night.

After the great evening meeting in the interest of Russian War Relief, at which Mr. Mackenzie King and the people responded generously to the appeals made, we caught the train and arrived in New York City this morning. We shall proceed to Washington in the course of a few hours.

I have noticed lately a number of articles in the papers, and even some cartoons on the subject, as to whether we should lower the voting age, since we have lowered the draft age. This question has been academically discussed for some time, but now it becomes more than an academic question.

If young men of 18 and 19 are old enough to be trained to fight their country’s battles and to proceed from training to the battlefields, I think we must accept the fact that they are also old enough to know why we fight this war. If that is so, then they are old enough to take part in the political life of their country and to be full citizens with voting powers.

January 22, 1943

Washington – (Thursday)
I am back in Washington and today am flying down to christen the new Yorktown. I christened the first one and she acquitted herself well and I am proud that they have asked me to christen the second one. As she goes down the ways, I shall pray that she will see the end of the war and will be used in the future for peaceful patrol work. Whatever happens to her, I feel sure that ship and men will live up to the traditions of the Navy, which are becoming more glorious day by day.

The workmen who have built these ships in record time to replace those which the enemy has taken from us deserve our gratitude. Without their hard work, we could not have the faith we have in the staunchness of our ships, nor the sense of security that all human power can do has been done to make every ship seaworthy.

Our shipbuilders must be skilled men, for I think that I told you that in Liverpool, England, an old hand at inspecting ships was sure that no ship could be built as rapidly as Mr. Kaiser’s, and still be any good. To convince himself, he went on board to look for all the things he felt would be wrong and could not find a single thing to criticize.

At the evening meeting in Montréal on Tuesday night, the band played the various national anthems in stirring fashion. I realized what these songs do to lift the spirits of a people. In the mail a few days ago, I received a letter from an American citizen, who says we should play the Marseillaise more often over the radio. French people may not be allowed to sing it themselves in occupied France, but they may be glad to hear it when they risk their lives to listen to foreign news on secret radios.

The Boys Clubs of America have adopted a pre-service training plan to give boys 14 years of age and over, basic training which helps them when they enter the Armed Forces. Every boy will receive a medical examination and efforts will be made to remedy the defects discovered. When a boy is physically fit, he will be given Army approved exercises under trained supervision.

These are designed to increase his strength, endurance and muscular coordination. All boys will learn to swim and instruction will be offered them in many subjects which may later be used either in peacetime occupations or in war, should they be called upon to serve.

We hope that most of this training will be useful for the peace which we pray we may establish permanently. It seems to me good training for any boy, and I am glad that such a great organization as the Boys Clubs of America is undertaking this program.

January 23, 1943

Washington – (Friday)
Yesterday was a long day, but it was a very interesting one, after I finally succeeded in breaking the bottle on the Yorktown. It did not break on the first try and I had to seize it again with both hands and smash it to be sure that the rapidly moving ship was properly christened. I am always very nervous until that feat is finally accomplished.

We had a very good cafeteria luncheon afterwards in the apprentice school building, and then I went with Adm. and Mrs. Simons to the Naval Hospital. Rear Adm. Sutton, who is in command, first took us through a new dormitory building for the corpsmen and the petty officers in the medical corps, and then to the wards where the men were from overseas.

I had the opportunity of speaking with a number of men from Africa and with two men from Guadalcanal. I hope we are making great strides in the treatment of burns, since that seems to be one of the most serious things from which our men suffer.

I saw some wonderful recoveries today, where the men had regained flexibility of their hands in a really remarkable way.

I spent a quiet evening catching up on the mail. I imagine it will take me some little time to do, since when one is away, there are always some things which are neglected.

I have just read W. L. White’s They Were Expendable. It is a tale of heroism and sacrifice and, withal, told so cheerfully that sometimes one can hardly believe that one understands what one is reading. I could hardly finish this book and had to put it aside a number of times and make myself go back to it, not because it is not beautifully written, but because there seems to be no excuse for ever considering human beings expendable.

If we ever again are guilty of leaving people without the best possible equipment in adequate amounts, in a world which requires such equipment, then somehow we should make it a prerequisite that the older people who are responsible are promptly sent out to die in these frontier battles. Why should the young always be expendable for the mistakes of the old?

I have felt guilty ever since I have read that book. If ever again, I do not face the truth of a situation and do my best to make my fellow citizens face it too, I hope I get my proper punishment.