Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (April 1941)



By Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1, 1941

Greensboro, NC, Monday –
One of the interesting things we saw near Tuskegee was a real rural theatre. The actors had built the stage and arranged the room for the audience. There were rough benches, an open fire, and some very interesting masks for decoration on the walls. It was called “The Bucket Theatre,” and on the sign outside was a quotation from Booker T. Washington which read:

Put your bucket down where you are.

This little rural theatre certainly is putting down its bucket in that community.

Saturday morning the Tuskegee Institute trustees met again all morning, and in the afternoon we visited the hospital, listened to the health problems which Tuskegee is trying to ameliorate. I had the pleasure of going through the new unit for the treatment of infantile paralysis which has been installed here by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. I am taking back a book full of pictures so that the President, who is much interested in the installment of this unit, will have an opportunity to see what it looks like.

Dr. Chenault is almost the only Negro doctor in the country, I think, who has had full training as an orthopaedic surgeon and has specialized in infantile paralysis. He gives one a feeling of great confidence, and the children’s faces lit up when we went into the wards. A number of cases are crippled children, suffering from horrible burns that have left them with deformities which only surgery and great care can cure. These youngsters play around open hearths where the fire burns to heat the cabin and cook the food. There are no guard rails, such as we think so essential for our ornamental fires.

Finally we went out to the aviation field, where a Civil Aeronautics unit for the teaching of colored pilots is in full swing. They have advanced training here, and some of the students went up and did acrobatic flying for us. These boys are good pilots. I had the fun of going up in one of the tiny training planes with the head instructor, and seeing this interesting countryside from the air.

The days at Tuskegee have given me much to think about. To see a group of people working together for improvement of undesirable conditions is very heartening. The problems seem great, but at least they are understood and people are working on them. Dr. Carver, whom I saw for a few minutes, has been at work for many years; and our hosts, the present heads of Tuskegee, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson, are ably carrying on the work.

We got up early Sunday morning and drove to Mobile for my lecture there, then flew during the night to Greensboro, NC, and now we are leaving to join the President at Fort Bragg.

April 2, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
We had a smooth flight from Mobile, Ala., to Greensboro, NC, but I must say that getting up at 4:45 a.m., seemed a trifle early! I was much impressed to be greeted at Hotel King Cotton by the proprietor and his daughter, who allowed us to go to bed for several hours.

The poor Secret Service man, however, who had met us and arranged to motor us to Fayetteville, said he had had no sleep because everyone was telephoning him to find out if we could drive thirty to fifty miles off our route to see some point of interest.

We proceeded leisurely by motor to Fayetteville and as we went through Fort Bragg we picked up Major Eugene Harrison, one of our former White House aides who is now aide to General Devers.

When the President’s train pulled in, we had a few minutes before he got off and I had a chance to admire the tan acquired by all the fishermen of his party. The President looks not only tanned but very much rested and is in fine spirits.

The Governor of North Carolina and Mrs. Broughton came in his car soon after the President arrived. Then Mrs. Broughton, Miss Thompson and I, with Major Harrison got into one car while the President, the Governor, the Mayor and General Devers headed the procession in an open car. We drove down the main street to the old Court House, built on arches in the old days so the slave market could be held underneath the building.

The drive through Fort Bragg was extraordinarily interesting. They have expanded rapidly. In fact, I heard the General say they put up a building of some kind every 32 minutes!

The camp stretches twenty-five miles in length and eleven miles across. The equipment is adequate for training, so the men are kept very busy. A great effort is being made to provide occupation at the camp for them during leisure hours. There is an athletic program, and a group of hostesses plan entertainments in the recreation rooms. In addition, there are three movie theaters running two shows a day.

Fayetteville is a comparatively small city and this sudden addition of 65,000 men certainly has strained every facility they have. The officers at the post, however, say that everyone in the city has cooperated marvelously and the efforts they have made to provide living quarters for the families of the non-commissioned officers, as well as for the officers’ families, while keeping the rents at a reasonable level, are very much appreciated.

On the whole, the health of the boys seems to be about normal. When they were living in tents it was a trifle better than when they moved into barracks, but that is almost always true.

We drove slowly, watching them perform their usual tasks. I could not help being impressed by “young America.”

April 3, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
After returning to the train on Monday afternoon, the President and I had a chance to catch up on the details of his fishing trip. I found that he was very proud that he had been able to prove that trolling from the Potomac was not only possible, but very profitable! I also discovered that the party had some rather rough days and that one of the chief sufferers, a small dog named Fala, kept his master awake most of one night! Fala, however, seemed to have forgotten whatever hardships he had been through and he greeted me as warmly as any other member of the party. He jumped up on the sofa beside me and demanded a great deal of attention.

As the train pulled out of the Fort Bragg area, they fired the President’s salute and Fala stood with his paws on the window of the back door of the car and as each gun went off he sniffed the air as much as to say:

What new thing is happening that I don’t understand?

They tell me he enjoyed the fishing trip very much when it was smooth, and as soon as the President would say: “Catch a fish now,” his ears would perk up and he would stand expectantly waiting for a fish to be landed. Then, as it flopped on the deck, he would retire a few feet, gather his courage and dash up to inspect it, only to retreat with the next flop. This was an amusement for Fala, perhaps, but as far as I could find out, it was much more amusement for all the men on board.

The President, Miss Thompson and I had dinner together and everyone went to bed fairly early. Our son, Jimmy, was down at the station to greet us yesterday morning and soon after breakfast at the White House, Franklin Jr. came in. He and Jimmy had lunch with their father and I got what glimpses I could of them in the intervals between a press conference and an hour spent at the National Women’s Democratic Club, at the opening of an “information course.” I talked for a little while on the place of women in defense and then answered questions for the remainder of the time. Mrs. Thomas McAllister was there, back in Washington for the newspaper women’s stunt party last night. She drove back with me and so we had a few minutes of quiet talk. Then Miss Winifred C. Cullis, an English acquaintance who had stayed with us some years ago in Albany, NY, came to lunch with several other friends.

At 2 o’clock, Franklin Jr. left again by plane for New York City as he goes to Boston tomorrow to report on Thursday aboard the destroyer to which he has been assigned. He and Jimmy and I were talking about the uncertainties as to the length of service in the reserves, and I was interested to find how calmly they are taking the need for adjustment to whatever situations may have to be faced. It is the kind of spirit we must all develop and I rather think the younger generation is going to be better in doing it than their elders.

April 4, 1941

New York, Thursday –
I did not have space yesterday to tell you anything about the annual dinner given by the Woman’s National Press Club. This is a most entertaining party and if I weren’t called upon to make a speech at the end, I should enjoy every minute of it. Last year, I promised myself that if I were able to attend the party this year, I would not be sitting at the speakers’ table. I would be completely carefree, with perhaps a little sense of superiority towards those who carried the responsibility of speaking before this gifted group of women. But here I was again, listening intently to everything said on the stage, knowing that at the end I had to answer as best I could what quips or friendly jibes had been made at my expense!

Despite this sense of responsibility, I really enjoy this party very much and look forward to it from year to year. The imposing list of honor guests shows that many other people do too.

We had several ladies staying with us and I think the gentlemen of the household felt rather relieved when they found that their only obligation was to entertain us for a brief moment before dinner. Then my husband, Mr. Hopkins and Jimmy had dinner alone and a chance afterwards to work or to talk as they saw fit.

Next week the Gridiron Club party will take place and the gentlemen will be in the forefront over the weekend!

Yesterday morning I left Washington for New York City to keep a dental appointment at noon, followed by the luncheon of the Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress. In the afternoon I spoke to the Open-Air Classroom Teachers Association of the New York City Department of Education. Then I had the pleasure of a visit with my mother-in-law.

Today I have several appointments. Among others, I am going to try on an Easter suit. I was asked in my press conference on Tuesday what I had chosen for this year and I could not remember, so it is time I gave a little thought to this matter of feminine adornment!

This afternoon I go to a meeting of the Council for Student Equality, at New York University. Tonight I preside at a dinner for the Common Council for American Unity.

I always think when I come up to New York that I am going to have ample time to do a great many things which I should like to do, such as seeing art exhibitions and really getting a chance to talk with some of my old friends. For the most part, however, in the end I find myself doing many semi-official duties and thrusting personal affairs into the background. Someday all this will be changed and I only hope that my personal friends will have the patience to bear with me during the interval and that they will not forget the old ties.

April 5, 1941

New York, Friday –
I did not tell you yesterday that I had seen Mr. S. N. Behrman’s play The Talley Method, with Ina Claire and Philip Merivale playing in it. I found it interesting and the acting excellent. I always like both Ina Claire and Mr. Merivale and Ernest Deutsch seemed to me to play the part of the refugee writer extraordinarily well.

As a play, however, I found it a bit confusing, because there were so many things in it – each one in itself sufficient for an entire play. The refugee writer alone was a situation which most of us would do well to contemplate for an entire evening. As to the age-old conflict between generations, there were brought up several sides of that question which would have been complete plays in themselves. I was interested, but not carried away. I imagine I am just not able to cope with more than one situation at a time!

I was very much impressed yesterday with the work which the National Greek War Relief Association is accomplishing and hope that we are all going to give them our cooperation.

My son Jimmy had lunch with me and then I went to my meeting with the New York University students. I had not realized it was to be centered about one particular situation and the only other speaker was Mr. Davis, head of the National Negro Congress, who quite naturally took a less objective view of the situation than I did. Young people are remarkably fair, however, and willing to listen to different points of view and to try to think their way through to the correct solution of problems which come before them.

I found the meeting stimulating and interesting and it left me with a sense of respect for the willingness of the young people of today to try to face the realities of a situation and always to be generous even to those who differ with them.

The dinner last night of the Common Council for American Unity was one of the most interesting public dinners I have ever attended and I was very grateful for the opportunity to listen to so many sincere and gifted people. I think all of them would agree with me, however, that the high point of the evening was Mr. Archibald MacLeish’s closing address. There were poetry and feeling and courage in what he had to say, and the whole audience rose in appreciation of one whose attitude inspires us all to better citizenship.

Today we are going to Hyde Park and I am looking forward greatly to starting many of the country things which one would like to watch over, but which one must enjoy in snatches when one cannot be at home.

April 7, 1941

Hyde Park, NY, Sunday –
Before I left New York City on Friday, I had an opportunity in the morning to go into the gallery of the Associated American Artists, at 711 5th Avenue. Two charming little sculptured horses met my gaze as I stepped out of the elevator, reminiscent of some horses carved in pine wood which had been given to me – and I found they were done by the same young artist from St. Louis, Mo. Then the collection of prints and lithographs which are being sold for $5 each attracted my attention, and I found myself moving very slowly through these attractive rooms until I finally reached Raphael Soyer’s exhibition. His paintings are most attractive, but as he was born in Russia I think his art shows the Russian influence. These paintings leave me with a sense of repression.

I was shown the room where shortly there is to be an exhibition of WPA children’s art and then I had a great thrill.

There is soon to be opened an exhibition of paintings by Thomas Hart Benton. He happened to be there, so I had the great pleasure of meeting him and seeing two or three of his paintings. One head of an old Negro is very beautiful and there is a painting, which is quite delightful, of a little Negro boy sitting with his lessons and looking at the teacher across a table. Mr. Benton said he had to hold the little boy with one hand while he painted with the other and that is probably why the child looks so natural and alive. I can just imagine him slipping through Mr. Benton’s fingers, to go fishing in the brook.

I found in my apartment in New York City a gift – a little collection of poems by living English poets. None of the poems is signed. They were chosen because of their contemporary interest and touch with today. One short poem will strike a familiar note with most of us. It is called:


Always a step ahead of me,
Cool-eyed, confident, lean,
The person I should wish to be,
And never yet have been:
His lips are full of projects done –
Mine only of their name –
How can I be that winning one,
This second that I am?
Whether you are man or woman, young or old, this person you wish to be is always ahead of you.

April 8, 1941

Washington, Monday –
Our two days in the country were, on the whole, very peaceful and I think we accomplished a good deal. I was outdoors all Saturday morning looking at trees and planning where to put in shrubs and plants, both at the President’s cottage and my own. By noon it began to rain really hard and so, at two-thirty, I did not regret delivering a speech indoors at Vassar College to a group of girls.

I saw a good many of my neighbors and read a good many things which I have been carrying around in my briefcase for some time. I was back in New York City on Sunday by 5:00 and went to the Sunday evening supper of the Men’s Faculty Club at Columbia University.

It seemed rather presumptuous to address people on a subject as large as “What is really happening in the United States Today,” many of whom knew much more about this subject than I possibly could. I realized however, that what I had to say was merely a preface to an open discussion.

It proved to be a very interesting evening, more profitable to me probably than to those who listened to me start it off! President and Mrs. Nicholas Murray Butler were kind enough to come to supper and I enjoyed seeing them very much.

I took the night train back to Washington. We have a most beautiful day here, so I am happy to be driving down to Annapolis to address the Women’s Club. I have had the pleasure of doing this almost every spring for the last few years.

There opened in New York City yesterday, an exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery of the work of Tamara de Lempicka. On April 18, the receipts of the exhibit admission charge will be devoted to the Paderewski Fund, so that those who are interested in that fund should try to see the exhibit on that particular day.

There is an editorial in Common Sense for this month, which I think will do a valuable service in stimulating thought and argument. It is entitled “Whose Sacrifice?” I am going to quote one thought here:

Sacrifice is indeed called for. But it is the sacrifice of the old methods of unplanned, competitive, monopoly profit-seeking business, and not the sacrifice of the bread and butter of the poor.

That is a large statement with which many people will agree wholeheartedly. The difference always arises as to how we shall achieve the ends which almost any one will concede are desirable. The editorial makes some valuable suggestions. Some of the statements are open to argument. But, after all, the value of anything which is written lies largely in its challenge to further thought and study. I hope a great many people after reading this month’s Common Sense, will do some constructive thinking.

April 9, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
An interesting letter came to me the other day. I have known the writer, Dame Rachel Crowdy, for some time; in fact, ever since the last World War. This letter is written on paper which bears the address “Ministry of Information, Malet Street, London.” I think, perhaps, you would be interested in it, so I want to share parts of it with you.

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,

I have intended for nearly two years to write to you and to send you photographs I took of the delightful school in Puerto Rico. I saw it when our West Indian Commission landed there in order to see how the United States was coping with some of the Caribbean problems that are common to us all. The children of the school were most excited when they heard that you and I knew each other. At the moment, alas, in the confusion of the present day, I can not put my hands on the photographs, but I shall send them as soon as I find them.

I have an interesting job with the government. It consists in being a kind of ambassador for the Ministry to the regional organizations, explaining ministerial policy to them and trying to bring their local needs to the attention of the people here. As a side line, I look out for wartime hardships, which have a remedy, among the people and take them up with the ministries concerned. I have been doing this now for the last 15 months and find it very worthwhile, though rather tiring sometimes, travelling so much in hard winter weather.

Lately, they have been sending me to the blitzed cities in order that the unbombed regions may profit by the experience of those that have been badly bombed. It is tragic work but it has a humorous side to it. The other day, in one of our worst cities, I noticed that the big cinema (movies) had been entirely destroyed except for the metal canopy, on which the announcement of the film to come is always posted. I went up and looked at it at close range and saw the white lettering spelled, “Watch For Reopening Date!” Talking to one old man, a self-made timber merchant, who had lost 20,000 pounds worth of property in a night he finished up with his account of the losses to me by saying:

But what a wonderful chance for this city to widen its streets!

I shall have to cut the letter off here and begin again tomorrow. There is much more that I think will interest you, but my space does not allow me to give it to you all at one time.

April 10, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
I shall give you that letter, which I started yesterday, on the installment plan, because I must tell you a little about the things I am doing from day to day.

Yesterday afternoon, I received a group of winners in an essay contest from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They were such bright looking young people and evidently were enjoying their trip to Washington. Then we gave the annual tea for the graduating classes of the various schools. I think the group should be congratulated, for they came past me more rapidly than any other group that has ever been here.

At dinner last night, Mr. Clarence Streit talked to us a little about his lectures on his plan “Union Now.” After dinner, Mr. Theodore Dreier showed us some of his slides of Black Mountain College, near Asheville, North Carolina. This is a most unique educational experiment, where the students and faculty are not only building their own buildings, but really are attempting to demonstrate democratic procedure in an educational institution.

Then the movie Men Of Boys Town was shown and made a tremendous impression on everybody. I had to leave for a time to broadcast for the Federal Employees’ Council, but could tell on my return what a moving story it is.

It is such beautiful weather this morning that I am dashing off for a short ride. The President is receiving Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt and some young people who are working in her division for British War Relief. I hope to get home in time to see them also.

And now for the next installment of that letter from Dame Rachel Crowdy:

The children, on the whole, are bearing the raids well. These have, I think, more effect on the 13 and 15’s than than on the younger children. How a child behaves depends very much on how it sees its parents behaving. The child of today has a philosophy of its own.

I had a good example of this the other day. I was staying in a small out-of-the-way country village with Dame Katharine Furse. There had been no bombs there. Suddenly out of the night came the first screamer that we had heard, which laid us both flat on the floor. We gathered together downstairs in the dining room around a most Victorian dining table, with the two old maids, (who had found time to get into caps and aprons) and three small evacuee boys from Liverpool.

There was rather a silence at first, as the guns were going, Then the eldest boy said to me in conversational tones:

I wonder where they will send us next to be safe.

That was his only comment and there was no intentional sarcasm in it. We spent the rest of the night with them making them show us the safety drill they had learned in school.

April 11, 1941

New York, Thursday –
I had a very pleasant luncheon yesterday with the wives of the members of the 73rd Congress, who came to Washington in 1933 when we did. Then I received some two hundred members of the Daughters of Patriots and Founders at the White House. After that I took the plane to New York City.

Last evening, I spoke at the dinner given by the New York City Board of Education to hear the conclusions of months of hard work and innumerable reports, made by groups of doctors and educators on the care and education of handicapped children. It is a study made in New York City, but of value to the whole country.

Changes have come about in medical care, more knowledge is now at hand and certain new techniques must be developed in order to give handicapped children the best possible opportunity for education and future usefulness in life. I hope many people will read this report, since we have, I believe, some 6 million handicapped children in the country.

And now for more of Dame Rachel Crowdy’s letter:

I cannot pretend for a moment that we are all of us feeling very brave, but people are carrying on believing that anything is better than the Hitler regime, and determined not to give in. I, personally, feel very much like the old lady who wrote here the other day:

I am 90. I cannot say that I and my elderly invalid sister are not nervous when the siren goes. We are, but we both agree that it is most important that Hitler should not be told this.

My old aunt, who had her 90th birthday during a very bad raid the other night, said she felt Hitler must have known it was her birthday to give her such a clapping (I, for one, hate raids, in spite of France and the last war).

I wonder if you saw our last George Medal List for Bravery. It began with a small boy of fourteen, who had worked all through the Coventry raid helping to get people out of burning buildings, and ended with an old lady of 94, who had quietly put out the incendiary bombs and had then gone back into the house, saying nothing to anyone “and so to bed!”

Some kinds of food are hard to get now, but no one seems to go hungry. It is mainly the extras that we have to do without. As you know, I cannot very well compare this war with the last, since I was in France all the time, living on army rations. I am told that the shortage is nothing like it was in the winter of 1917.

Last week I was at the English-Speaking Union when the Queen came to see the clothing sent from America for the evacuee and shelter children. We all felt that these met a real need.

April 12, 1941

Washington, Friday –
Yesterday noon, I spoke on a broadcast which is being inaugurated by the Friends of Children Incorporated. Once a week they will broadcast an American play for children. It will go by shortwave not only to British children, but to other children throughout the world.

Up to this time, the Friends of Children Inc., have been sending boxes of clothes to children in England, but they felt that there was need for a message which would interest the children themselves and tie them closer to children in this country. I hope that this program will give a great deal of pleasure to the children overseas.

In the afternoon, we went to the Press Photographers’ Association 6th annual photo exhibit. I can only say I wish I could spend more time looking at these photographs. They have a very good and amusing one of the President in a perplexed and reflective state of mind. Many other notables look down upon you from the walls. The color photographs are very beautiful, and the sports photographs, taken with a new type of camera which takes people in action, are some of the most extraordinary I have ever seen.

We gathered up our bags and I took a train to Philadelphia at 4:00 and drove to Swarthmore. I had dinner at the college and spoke afterwards under the auspices of the Swarthmore Student Union. My only previous tie with Swarthmore was through Miss Josephine Truslow-Adams of their art department. I happen to have one of her paintings, which I much enjoy.

President Nason and three students drove me to the airport, where my friend, Miss Mayris Chaney, met me. We boarded the plane at 11:25 for Washington, on which we found Mrs. David Levy and Mr. Morris Troper of the Joint Distribution Committee, who were coming down here in the interest of the work of that committee.

And now to finish Dame Crowdy’s letter:

That reminds me that last week I was in Bristol and the Lord Mayor asked me if I had ever met you or the President. When I said “yes,” he said:

If you ever write to Mrs. Roosevelt, will you tell her that the thing which has cheered the children of Bristol is that not only the grown-ups, but the children of the four Bristols of America are thinking about them?

He has evidently had much kindness from your Bristols.

I helped last month to arrange a tour for Mr. Pyle of the Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers. I was very anxious that he should have a chance really to talk to people, and not just be put off with lunches and dinners. I think he saw exactly the kind of thing he wanted. He is a human and sympathetic person and realized that many of us, while praying for victory are adding:

And make us worthy of it.

April 14, 1941

Washington, Sunday –
It seems as though I were covering a good deal of ground these days. On Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting for a few minutes Mr. Darrell Brown, the young artist who won a prize offered by Mr. Isaac Liberman, President of Arnold Constable Company, for painting a portrait of me in the dress I wore on Inauguration Night. I thought I had never seen him and, since I am not particularly interested in portraits of myself, I think I must have seemed a rather unsatisfactory subject. This, however, is a portrait of the dress. I was interested to learn that I had met Mr. Brown some years ago in Iowa, and was glad to be able to show him the Lincoln portrait in the State Dining Room, which he liked as much as we do.

In the evening, I took the train for Boston and arrived there yesterday morning with my brother to attend the wedding of my young namesake, Eleanor Roosevelt. After breakfast, at the Statler with some of my brother’s friends; our son John sent a car for us and my brother and we went down to the navy yard where Franklin Jr. met us and took us over the destroyer on which he is serving. It was all most interesting and I was glad to meet some of his brother officers.

Franklin Jr. was off duty by lunch time, so we all had lunch together at Johnny and Anne’s apartment. Johnny was one of the ushers at the wedding and, as usual, he was most efficient. We went out to Mrs. John Cutter’s house in time to see all the wedding party being photographed out on the lawn, and to look at all the wedding presents.

Then we went to the church where my brother joined me and I think we all felt that it was a charming ceremony. The young people looked very happy and sweet and the sun shone upon them.

One cannot help feeling that plans for the future are very uncertain where young people are concerned these days, but this has been the case before and it is good that they have the courage to start their lives and lead them as normally as they possibly can. They cannot escape anxiety and perhaps it will have to be borne separately instead of with each other, but that, too, has come to youth in periods of crisis. I pray that we, who are older, may be able to help them during this difficult time.

I was very sorry that, on account of cancellation of my plane back last night from Boston to Washington, I had to take a train and miss the Easter Sunrise Service at the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb, conducted by the Knights Templar. This is the first time, since coming to Washington, that I have missed this service.

April 15, 1941

Beverly Hills, Calif., Monday –
Yesterday was a beautiful day. The four children who are staying in the house went out on the lawn after breakfast to roll Easter eggs. Later, I received a bouquet of Easter lilies from the people of Bermuda, and then most of us went to church with the President.

We had a number of friends with us for lunch in the afternoon I received Señora Najera, wife of the Mexican Ambassador and Señora Ávila Camacho, whose husband is brother of the President of Mexico. After that, I received the high school senior class from Staatsburg, NY, which is the village next to Hyde Park. They have been very fortunate in having such good weather and I am sure enjoyed their trip.

The crowds in Washington are great. I do not remember seeing so much traffic. I am particularly glad that the cherry blossoms are out, so that no one who came hoping to see them will go away disappointed.

The White House has been filled to capacity with sightseers during the visiting hours, and I am sure this is so with all the public buildings. Our own young people went out to Mt. Vernon on Saturday and could not even get inside the house.

Yesterday afternoon, I left Washington by plane for Los Angeles, California. Weddings seem to fill my days just now, and I am here for my son Jimmy’s wedding to a very sweet and lovely girl, Romelle Schneider. His orders will take him to the Pacific fleet very shortly, so I had to make this flying trip, which seems very strenuous.

In these days one does almost the impossible for a glimpse of someone whom one may not see for a long time, particularly at important times in their lives. I am well repaid for the trip, not only by being with Jimmy and Romelle and their friends, but by seeing Anna and John Boettiger, who came down from Seattle for the occasion.

The Easter service yesterday gave me a sense of what tremendous faith people all over the world must have in order to believe there is a God with enough understanding and love to continue renewing hope through the symbol of the Resurrection.

It proves I suppose, that no matter what we human beings do that is wrong or stupid, the power that is God believes eventually we may grow better. For all of us, therefore, there is renewed hope which must never fail us either as individuals on as nations.

My trip was a little uncertain, for I had been told we would probably be delayed by thunderstorms, but I have learned long ago to possess my soul in patience and accept the inevitable. Therefore, I said a little prayer that I would arrive in time at both ends of this journey, and thus far things seem to have gone fairly well.

April 16, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Los Angeles and the sun shone on the small wedding party gathered at Mr. and Mrs. George Converse’s house. Their drawing room was a bower of flowers and the lunch afterwards was served in their patio. What kind and considerate hosts they were! These California houses are enchanting for a party of this kind, and it was a party of real friends who were happy in each other’s joy.

It seems extraordinary, of course, to fly across the Continent and arrive at one’s destination only a half-hour late. Two of my children, who had flown from Seattle on Sunday, met me with Jimmy and his friend, Mr. Maurice Benjamin. Jimmy went off to do some necessary errands and Mr. Benjamin took Anna, John and me back to his house, where we talked hard until we had to dress and leave for the wedding.

Romelle looked charming, but one can have beauty and charm and lack character and sweetness. As I looked at her face yesterday, I decided that she has both character and sweetness. She will need them, poor child, in the weeks to come, for after two days leave, which is not to be taken more than three hours away from San Diego; Jimmy will report to San Francisco and leave from there for the Pacific.

Of course, Army and Navy wives are accustomed to these separations, but I have never found that they liked them. Romelle said firmly to me yesterday:

I am not thinking about James having to leave.

…but I knew that all too soon the time would come when she would have to think, and all of us know it can’t be a very happy experience.

We saw them off with plenty of rice down their necks and in their hair. Then Anna, John and I went back to the Benjamins to sit in the sun for half an hour before we went to the afternoon plane. I boarded it a little after 4:30 and was delighted to find Mr. J. F. T. O’Connor seated opposite me. He came out to speak to Anna and John, and he and I had much pleasant conversation during the trip back. Mr. O’Connor is a grand storyteller and has a fund of really delightful tales, which I wish I had the ability to remember and use as aptly as he does.

We came through an electrical storm in the night just before we landed at Dallas, Texas, but on the whole the trip was a smooth one. Again, to my great relief, we landed in Washington at 10:55, only 15 minutes late. This column is being written in the automobile while I wait for the plane to arrive at 11:15 to take us to Greensboro, NC, from whence we go to Charlotte, where I speak tonight.

April 17, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
We arrived in Greensboro, NC, on time yesterday. A plane sent over by the Charlotte News Publishing Co., which was sponsoring my lecture, was waiting on the field. The College for Women at Greensboro had sent a few representatives to greet me with a box of flowers, and the local radio man was also there with a microphone so I could say a few words of greeting before starting on the other plane for Charlotte.

All this was done very rapidly, and then we climbed into the smaller plane with a delightful young pilot and reporter from the News, who acted as one of our hostesses during the day. We were soon looking down on the fields and woods of North Carolina.

It seemed more like summer than spring. The flowers were all out and the dogwood was in full bloom. Somehow or other, this “little” trip to southern California and then to North Carolina, seems to have robbed me of that first feeling of spring creeping over the landscape.

There was no sign of spring the last time I was in Hyde Park and suddenly, when I was back in Washington, everything was out – magnolias, forsythias, daffodils; everything seemed in full bloom overnight! Perhaps, when I get back to Hyde Park in early May, I shall get that first sense of life awakening again in the trees, fields and marshes.

As we came through Virginia this morning, one hillside seemed to me particularly beautiful. The leaves on the trees were pale green and a soft reddish brown. In between, some kind of white blossom glistened and the purple of the Judas tree was everywhere in sight.

Yesterday afternoon, we visited two housing projects on the outskirts of Charlotte; one for colored people and one for white people in the low income group. They were nice houses and very much appreciated by the tenants, who are already in them. The rents are reasonable and everyone seems very happy.

There is a big playground for the children near both projects and a good deal of equipment had already been placed in the one near the project for white people. The playground in the project for Negroes had very little equipment, but I hope that this is only temporary and that it is going to be possible to give the colored children a similar opportunity for recreation. It seemed to me that in both projects there were a great many children and anything that can be done to make life pleasanter for them is valuable in making the projects a success.

I stopped in the Red Cross workrooms for a few minutes, and was told that they have 2,000 volunteers enrolled. I shall tell you about the rest of my day in Charlotte, NC, in tomorrow’s column.

April 18, 1941

Buffalo, NY, Thursday –
After I visited the Red Cross workrooms in Charlotte, NC, yesterday, I went to a reception which Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tillett had at their home, and enjoyed seeing them and meeting some of their friends. Then I went back to the Hotel Barringer and had the pleasure of seeing one of the girls I had taught in school years ago, who came with her husband, Lieutenant Louis Jallade, from Fort Bragg, where he is now stationed.

I also saw Mr. Ray Swayze, whom I had seen often years ago with a group of young people. He was looking forward very happily to entering into boy scout work as a career.

After the lecture, we took the train back to Washington. Yesterday was rather cloudy, so perhaps it was just as well that I was not trying to fly to some distant point. I lunched with the wives of the members of the 74th Congress and had a most enjoyable time.

We left Washington Wednesday evening by train for Buffalo, NY, where I am giving a lecture tonight. Having a few hours at home yesterday afternoon was very pleasant. I was distressed to find that an epidemic of measles in Warm Springs, Ga., is preventing the President from taking his proposed trip down there. I hope he will be able to make his visit while I am away so that we can all meet in Hyde Park for a weekend on my return.

In the past few days I have had so much time on planes that I actually finished reading everything I took with me. I may have mentioned to you before War By Revolution, by a young Englishman, Francis Williams, who has been in politics for a number of years. I was much interested in it because I feel that his contention is correct, that really to win the fight against Hitlerism, the people in all the countries under Hitler’s control must want freedom and a better life brought about through their own action in preference to accepting whatever a dictator gives them.

Mr. Williams insists that this must be a “people’s war.” The following quotation, perhaps, epitomizes his view of the future:

It (the war) will be won when the people of Britain speak to the people of Europe and in one voice call them to a democratic revolution of the people against tyranny everywhere.

Another small book, by an American who originally came from Kansas but has lived for many years in the Balkans, is apparently inspired by Anne Lindbergh’s book, The Wave of the Future. Mr. R. H. Markham writes The Wave of The Past and insists:

The past has its mark and the future has its mark. The one is slavery and the other is freedom.

I think you will find both of these books of interest.

If you want a rather weird but touching story, read Paul Gallico’s Snow Goose. In every war certain legends get about in the army. This is a legend of the beaches of Dunkirk, with a background of sadness and tenderness expressed most beautifully in the story.

April 19, 1941

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Friday –
I have been doing so many things the last few days, that I keep remembering happenings which I forgot to tell you. Last Wednesday afternoon, in Washington, there was a meeting of the workers in the rural electrification program from all over the country. I had the pleasure of being with them for a few minutes and I mention it here because, from the beginning, this program has seemed to me to be of such general importance to the rural people of our nation.

Every time electricity is taken to some remote spot, it brings new opportunity to the farmer to lighten his labors. It allows him to accomplish more and, therefore, increases his buying power.

To the woman of the house it brings relief from backbreaking toil, a better standard in home life, more time to spend with the children, and less weariness at the end of the day. The men and women working in this program are fundamentally changing our life for the better.

Then, I forgot to tell you I was presented by Madame Espil, wife of the Ambassador from the Argentine, with a beautiful Argentine alligator skin bag, which I am now proudly carrying. These are on sale in many shops throughout the United States. Perhaps we will buy them instead of Argentine beef!

Last, but not least, there is an interesting exhibit in the art section of WPA under Mr. Cahill. Around the walls, you may see the story of every type of work done by this division. You will be surprised to learn into how many things WPA art workers have delved. They are meeting many needs in the defense program today, and many a recreation camp will be a pleasanter spot because of their work.

In Buffalo yesterday morning, I saw my first two airplane factories, greatly expanded since the effort for defense and aid to Britain began. Airplanes are rolling along the assembly line more rapidly than I had realized, but many things enter into their final completion and “take off.”

One must be sure that engines, instruments, guns and ammunition are all produced with the same rapidity. This synchronizing does not as yet seem to be working perfectly. I was interested to see old men, skilled workers of many years experience, working side by side with young people who, in many cases, held their first jobs.

These factories are running schools to supplement the work already done by trade schools and NYA. They work three shifts and there has been a tremendous drop in both the WPA and relief rolls in Buffalo, New York.

The NYA quota there is a little higher than it was in October 1940, but that does not mean that the boys have not been getting jobs, because the turnover last month was greater than ever before. It simply means that NYA always has a waiting list of boys and girls who need training.

April 21, 1941

Washington, Sunday –
When I was in Buffalo, NY, I saw the NYA training shop and it looked like an extremely efficient, well laid out plant. I am sure the boys are learning skills which will help them to get jobs in the new factories which are now opening. I was happy in going through the airplane factories to notice that older workers everywhere were willing and anxious to let the younger ones learn from them.

I could not help thinking of the tremendous weight of responsibility which each of these workers carries for the lives of the young pilots who will later fly these planes. A bit of work carelessly done may mean death to a pilot in some crucial moment in the future.

Friday, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., I had little time except to hold a press conference and to give my lecture. After it, I attended a supper of the Mr. E. Walter Samuel Sunday School Class of the First Methodist Church, which sponsored the lecture. In Wilkes-Barre their problem of unemployment is still paramount, because there are no defense industries to take up the slack and solve the unemployment in the coal fields.

Saturday, in New York City, I did a number of errands and saw some of my family. In the evening I went to see Lillian Hellman’s play Watch On The Rhine. It is stirring and in parts, harrowing. All the way through I was thinking of how the family symbolized our country as a whole, so unaware do we seem to the dangers and horrors all around us. I feel sure, however, that like Fanny in the play, we shall not be made of paste if our test comes.

I hear that on April 23, on the college campuses in this country, there will be called a new kind of peace strike by certain groups who seem aware of the realities of today. If the program which has been sent me by the Brooklyn College Student Council is really to be part of the thinking of all these young people on this day, it will be a valuable day to many of them.

None of us know how circumstances may change from day to day, nor what we must meet as time goes on, but the notice sent to me of “design for living, a democratic world at peace, triple-A for peace and democracy” has much food for thought, and shows a willingness to discuss and face the situation as it is today for us and the world.

The following is what these young people favor:

April 22, 1941

Peoria, Ill., Monday –
A friend of mine has forwarded me a letter which he has received from California. I am going to quote from it for you because I think many of us have been wondering if there is something we could do for the boys in the camps.

The letter quotes a major at Fort Lewis in California as saying:

Amusement in off-hours is always a problem for the enlisted man. At this post it costs him 20¢ and about an hours time to get to town, and then there is little for him to do but stand on a street corner. If he stays home, he can lie on his bunk and swap yarns, or he can go to the battery recreation room, which has light and heat but little else. Your idea of sending books and magazines would be great. The man to handle the distribution would be the regimental chaplain.

Any of us who live near a camp can collect magazines and books from our own libraries and our neighbors and periodically take them to the camps. Those of us who live at a distance, can mail our magazines to the chaplain when we are through with them. It isn’t very expensive and it will take only a little time. Let’s do it because, as this correspondent writes:

It’s a swell Army. (and I should like to add, a swell Navy and Marine Corps, and grand boys learning to fly under CAA as well)

My correspondent continues:

They are giving one year of their lives, at least, for the rest of us.

And perhaps, those who are in the Reserves, like my two boys, may give a considerably longer time.

Of course, at present, no one is in any more danger than he would be in carrying on his ordinary occupation, and we hope this training may be of value to everybody in the future. However, none of us can escape the realization that there is a danger which makes this training necessary, and that even we civilians had better prepare for the kind of fortitude which the people of the British Isles seem to have acquired.

Yesterday, in Washington, I had the pleasure of having the daughter of the President of Brazil and her husband, and the Brazilian Ambassador and his wife lunch with me. They are all delightful people and well aware of the changing world in which we are living, so the conversation was interesting.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Byron, who has just been named for Congress in her late husband’s district, and Mrs. Ellen Woodward, who brought Mr. and Mrs. March from Los Angeles, and Mr. Edward Paley came to tea with me. We had a pleasant time and then I had to leave for the train.

I bade goodbye to my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Hancock Griffin, who were staying with us for a few days, and Miss Thompson and I took the train for Chicago. We arrived this morning to find a gray and rather chilly day, and realized that the summer weather, which we had left in Washington, had deserted us for the time being.

April 23, 1941

Chicago, Tuesday –
The sun shone when we reached Peoria, Ill., yesterday. After a press conference, I went out to see one of the housing projects built under the U.S. Housing Authority. Everyone with whom I talked, had the highest praise for Mr. Nathan Straus and the work which has been accomplished under his leadership. The particular project which I saw was practically completed, except for the landscaping.

There are two types of buildings, three-story apartment houses and two-story small houses. The rents are remarkably reasonable, far below the average for substandard housing in Peoria. I am sure all the officials are very pleased with what has been accomplished.

Later, I met the staff of the WPA for the District. I was very much interested to hear an account of the Workers Service Project, which has just been operating during the past two months. They have set up centers of information for the workers, and they seem to have been able to make these centers very useful in the short time they have been open.

The man in charge of reeducation of workers and reemployment, told me that in Quincy, Ill., they had placed 92 percent of their men, who had had an opportunity for retraining. That is an excellent record and, though they still have plenty of people on the rolls waiting for training, it does show a heartening rise in private employment.

It was very pleasant to see Mrs. Kemp, and her father and sister again. They had been our hosts in Delavan, Ill., last year. When you stay with people, as we did with them, you cannot help feeling that you really know them. I have felt a real sense of friendship for the entire family ever since I went to speak there.

A number of the British Relief people, among them two small girls dressed in Scotch kilts, came at 5:00 o’clock to shake hands with me. I was glad to see Mrs. Johnson, who remembered having entertained the President and me in the 1920 campaign.

After the lecture in the evening, I attended a small reception. We boarded the train a little before midnight, arriving in Chicago early this morning. The sun is shining and we look out of our windows at a very calm lake with ships passing in the distance. I always enjoy this view and the sight of the gardens and the trees along the drive with the incessant stream of cars going past.

There is no green on the trees yet, and no flowers are in sight but there is a feel of spring in the air. The papers give front page space to the question of daylight saving, and we only think of that when we begin to long for the out-of-doors.

At noon, we start across the continent, bound for Los Angeles, California.