Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (Mar. 1940)



By Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Thursday –
I have just finished Mary Ellen Chase’s book A Goodly Fellowship. It was given me last Christmas, so you see how long it takes me to get at the books I really want to read. I have always enjoyed Miss Chase’s books, which deal with Maine people, because I know the coast of Maine and love the land and its people. Dawn in Lyonesse is another of her books which I could reread many times. In A Goodly Fellowship, she traces her own teaching and, at the same time, tells much about those who taught her.

Teaching and being taught are always inextricably woven together, for there is really no better way of learning than to try to teach. Miss Chase’s conception of the good teacher agrees with my own, and that is one reason why I enjoyed this book so much. She feels that you must really love your subject before anyone can derive much from you as a teacher. I particularly like the picture she drew of ex-President Neilson of Smith College. I have met him and instinctively have always liked him, but this gives me the reasons for my liking. In his closing address to the students when he left Smith, he quoted the following words, which I think all of us will do well to remember. A great scholar, after enumerating the worthy desires of many men’s hearts, said:

All these things are good and those who pursue them may well be soldiers in one army or pilgrims on the same eternal quest. If we fret and fight one another now, it is mainly because we are so much under the power of the enemy. The enemy has no definite name, though in a certain degree we all know him: he who always puts the body before the spirit, the dead before the living; who makes things only to sell them: who has forgotten that there is such a thing as truth, and measures the words by advertisement or by money; who daily defiles the beauty that surrounds him and makes vulgar the tragedy; whose innermost religion is the worship of the lie in his soul. The Philistine, the vulgarian, the great sophist, the passer of base coin for true, he is all about us and, worse, he has his outposts inside us persecuting our peace, spoiling our sight, confusing our values, making a man’s self seem greater than the race, and the present thing more important than the eternal.

There appeared just before luncheon yesterday, a very charming young lady to stay the night with us. She flew over from Cuba and left us again this morning. Martha Gellhorn is always to me an exciting person with whom to talk. Her articles which appeared in Collier’s on Finland, gave as good a picture of what is happening there as any foreign correspondent’s material that I read. She has seen so much in Europe firsthand and felt it as only a really good writer can. I enjoyed every minute of our talk.

Now she has gone back to what sounds like a most charming spot in Cuba, even if, from her own account, the conveniences of life are a little difficult to achieve.

Another heavenly day and I grieve to have my time here draw to an end.

March 2, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Friday –
I forgot to tell you yesterday that we were extremely frivolous on Wednesday night and went to see where Miami’s Four Hundred disport themselves in the evening at the Royal Palm Club. It is very attractive and there is excellent food and one of the best floor shows I have ever seen. You look through the windows to the lighted palms and think the morning sun is shining on the green, and then have to remind yourself that it was 9:00 p.m. when you came in.

There are plenty of charming ladies in the show and all are graceful and wear attractive costumes. The De Marco dance team was featured Wednesday night and was excellent. Mr. Tony Martin sang, and prefaced his singing by telling us that like many others, his evening’s salary would hardly repay what he had left behind at the race track in the afternoon.

I enjoyed his singing and the management came afterwards to ask if he could come up and have his photograph taken with our group. I was very glad to have an opportunity to meet him. The one thing which seemed different from almost any night club that I had ever visited, was the frequent flash of a camera bulb. It seemed to me that everyone on the floor had been photographed before the evening was over. There is a spirit of carefree gaiety here which is contagious.

This afternoon, we went over to visit some friends. I sat enthralled while the gentleman of the family told us stories of some of the quaint characters who have come his way in a long and adventurous life. Among other things, he told us of going down with a unit to establish a hospital when a tidal wave wrecked most of the City of Galveston, Texas, many years ago. It reminded me of some of the sights I had seen along the Atlantic Coast after the tidal wave of last year.

I have just been told about the Sacks Foundation, which was started with the idea of encouraging young interior decorators and which is now contemplating including branches of musical training and fashion design in their annual competition. The competition for interior decoration is open to students in accepted institutions in Greater New York.

The design for the room receiving the first award is executed in every detail and open to the public. The current one is now ready at 505 8th Avenue, New York City. I think as many people as possible who are interested in developing new vocations for young people, should go to see what these young decorators have done. It is not only from the point of view of opening new opportunities that this foundation is doing a good work, it is also going to do much to educate the taste of the public, and we know that only through the desire of the public can good work be accepted.

March 4, 1940

Golden Beach, Fla., Sunday –
The day has come to leave Florida and I am afraid this lazy life is going to be hard to shake off. I have discovered that there is much in a change of atmosphere. I imagine that the President most reluctantly neared his home port again. However, he has already taken up the threads of all the state affairs and I feel sure that when I reach the White House this evening I shall forget in the twinkling of an eye that there are such things as days which are not scheduled and hours when one can lie in the sun or sit and read a book.

It has been a delightful holiday and I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the kindly people who were so considerate and allowed me such freedom. Among other things, I shall miss the lavish use of oranges.

On Friday afternoon, I had a few visitors; Mr. and Mrs. James M. Cox, Mr. and Mrs. John Knight of Ohio, and Mr and Mrs. Arthur Sporborg. I feel I owe Mr. Sporborg a special debt of gratitude for having found me this house, which I leave so reluctantly.

I have just received a most charming circular about a book published by the Caxton Printers, Limited, of Caldwell, Idaho. It is called With A Sketch Book Along The Old Mission Trail by Maude Robeson Gunthrop. The story is chiefly told by the sketches, but each drawing is accompanied by a brief note. I can hardly wait to get the book itself, because of this charming folder.

The proposal of ex-President Hoover, that this government donate $20,000,000 for Polish relief, is interesting. I think his statement that, when the war comes to an end, all of Europe will be starving, is discouraging in the extreme, but not very far from the truth. Unfortunately, it is always the little people who starve. They are starving now, not in Finland, for there, food is one of the few things which they do not need, but most certainly there is starvation in Poland, and to a great extent probably in Germany, and probably in Spain and Italy, and, to some extent, even in France and England.

Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher has already begun to bring home through the newspapers, the story of her effort to arouse the children of this country to share what they can with the children who are in want in other countries. I hope she will be successful, not only because of the help which may go to children of other lands, but because of the education value which the plan holds for our own children, who are so apt to take for granted their relatively happy surroundings.

March 5, 1940

Washington, Monday –
I left Miami, Florida, yesterday in good weather and flew into bad weather. They told me soon after taking off that, in all probability, we would not be able to land in Washington, DC, but that Richmond, Va., seemed sure. I sent word to the White House and asked them to send a car to Richmond for me. I fully expected I would have to sit in the airport and wait for it. Instead, we circled the airport, the captain found we could not land, and back we went to Raleigh, North Carolina. I suppose to a great many people it made a real difference, but so far as I was concerned it was just inconvenient, and I was sorry that a car had been driven all the way to Richmond to meet me.

Anything of this kind seems to draw the occupants of a plane together. Every seat was taken and everybody, of course, began to rearrange his plans. The man in front of me was pleased. He had a son at Duke University and this unexpected stop at Raleigh made a visit to Duke possible. I was really sorry for Mr. and Mrs. Berlin, who had bought a four-month-old Pekingese puppy in Florida. She was the softest, most adorable little bundle of fur, but when no supper was forthcoming at the proper hour, she behaved as badly as any hungry baby and yowled pitifully.

A couple across the aisle from me was reading John Brown’s Body, and I could not help but thinking that no matter what happened, they had some satisfactory and engrossing literature. The gentleman immediately across the aisle was on his way home from Mexico and was reading Stuart Chase’s book on that country. He kept telling me what a wonderful place Mexico City is, and I told him how much I wanted to go there.

As we flew up the coast between Miami and Jacksonville, Fla., the shadows on the water were really too beautiful not to attract everyone’s attention, no matter how interesting their books might be. I love flying over the water. The waves below stood out like so many little ostrich feathers in the breeze. When there are extra sections in a flight, the several planes fly at different levels. At one point, we could see our second section flying at 7,000 feet, and looking like a great shining bird against the clouds above us.

I had two books with me and both were interesting. One of them, Chinaberry Tree, is a tragic novel of the Negro people. I do not think it in any way a remarkable novel except for the tragedy which it portrays and which we, who happen to be of another race, so often forget.

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March 6, 1940

Washington, Tuesday –
Because I had to take a train at Raleigh, NC, I arrived at the White House yesterday morning almost at the same time as did my guests, the Reverend and Mrs. Endicott Peabody, and Mrs. Louis Howe. I found my mother-in-law, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wilson from Hyde Park already there. We had a pleasant breakfast in the West Hall and at 9:30, I started on a busy day.

First, I held a press conference to which I had invited Mrs. William Kittle, Chairman of the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Board. She represents the public on the District of Columbia board of three – one member represents the employees, one, the employers, and the third one, the public. She gave a very clear description of how the minimum wage law has affected women in the District of Columbia, and answered two questions which have always bothered me.

One is, does a minimum wage law throw a great many women out of work? Here in the District, in such occupations as are fairly well-organized, the employment of women has increased since the law passed, but in a few of the badly organized occupations such as laundry, cafeteria and hotel workers, there has been a very slight decrease in employment. The other question which is often asked is whether the minimum wage becomes the maximum wage and means that few people ever get better pay. Mrs. Kittle was able to show from studies made here that women who had formerly been receiving more than the minimum wage still receive higher pay, and a far greater percentage than ever before are receiving the amount set as the minimum wage, whereas formerly they had been receiving less than the present minimum wage.

It looks to me, therefore, as though this was working out very well in the District and should work equally well in other localities.

We all went at 10:30 to St. John’s Church across Lafayette Square for the service which my husband always liked to have on the anniversary of his first inauguration day. One prayer which was read made a deep impression on me. I did not happen to know this prayer before, and I think it is one which many of us would be glad to say many times, so I am giving it to you here in full:

Our Father, who hast set a restlessness in our hearts, and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find; forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content, and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us, that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pity; make us sure of the goal we cannot see, and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us, and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try enough to understand them. Save us from ourselves, and show us a vision of a world made new. May Thy spirit of peace and illumination so enlighten our minds that all life shall glow with new meaning and new purpose; through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

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March 7, 1940

New York, Wednesday –
I came to New York City yesterday morning in order to see my aunt, Mrs. David Gray, who is sailing this week with her husband, our new Minister to Ireland. I cannot say that I shall see them go very cheerfully, for I like to have them in this country. But Mr. Gray loves Ireland and I know will enjoy his time there very much.

I had a few engagements in the afternoon and then went to the dinner given by the “National Sharecroppers Week” and gave the prizes for essays written by high school students on the sharecropper situation. A few more appointments this morning and back to Washington, I shall go by this afternoon’s plane. I must, however, tell you about a book which I finished on the plane last Sunday.

The book is called Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn. Here is a foreign correspondent’s story which could not perhaps be written for the daily newspapers, for the reason that the correspondent writing it would be thrown out of the foreign country and would cease to have a job. This is a picture of stark tragedy painted by the use of simple events in ordinary lives which are important to the individuals concerned, but which count for little in history. This book is a masterpiece as a vivid picture. It is not a novel; It is just daily life under the kind of circumstances which, thank God; we do not know in the United States.

It is important to us, every one of us, to understand what happens to the individual forced to live under such circumstances and to those other individuals, who through force and fear, rule people in such a manner. If we lack this knowledge, we cannot understand what is happening in Europe today. I strongly recommend the reading of Stricken Field, not for pleasure, though it is very well written, but because you will know vividly the fear of the little people all over the world.

Yesterday, I was unable to finish telling you about the other things which happened on Monday, so I must go back and say that in the afternoon, I visited the Crippled Children’s Unit at Gallinger Hospital where the Twentieth Century Club has equipped a room for occupational therapy and has also installed a library.

On the way home, I stopped at an art exhibit which is being held at the Mayflower Hotel by Princess Gourielli for the benefit of the Polish Refugee Relief Fund. In the evening, we had our annual dinner with the Cabinet.

They always have a delightful dinner for us, and Mr. Eddie Dowling again brought down the entertainers. Among them was the fine magician who did so many clever tricks at the Newspaper Women’s Club party in New York City. As usual, when the party was over, they all came over to the White House for a very light supper and a glimpse of the house which, to some of them, was a new experience. Our guests at supper this year included: Mr. Eddie Dowling, Mr. Dean Murphy, Miss Laurette Taylor, Mr. Casper Reardon, Miss Dana Suesse, Miss Kitty Carlisle, Miss Patricia Bowman, Dr. Giovanni, Miss Stella Adler, Miss Muriel Hutchinson, Miss Sheila Barrett, Miss Milli Monti and Miss Barbara Frietchie.

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March 8, 1940

Washington, Thursday –
Last night, I went to the concert given by the National Symphony Orchestra and enjoyed it immensely, though I could not help feeling a tinge of melancholy when the Strauss waltzes were played. One thinks of what it must mean to Viennese people to realize the change that has come over their land. Strauss waltzes can only flourish in a happy country. They might fit in with gentle sadness, but they could never have anything to do with terror, and that seems to be the predominating note of life in practically every European country today.

After the concert was over, I came back to the White House, worked on my mail for three-quarters of an hour and then went out to the Thrift Shop Ball. I confess to have felt somewhat aggrieved at having to start out for a second time and to leave a desk full of work, but it was a delightful party and the floor show went off very smoothly with some very nice singing and most graceful dancing. The thrift shop here is run for the benefit of six children’s charities and probably creates more interest than any other group of them, so the floor was crowded with dancers and one could hardly get up or down the stairs.

I could not help thinking that, while there is one thrift shop in Washington, there are several in New York City. The one known there as the Bargain Box, provides a steady revenue to the New York Committee for the Frontier Nursing Service. This Committee looks after the shop on Saturdays and will hold a tea on March 12, to which you must bring a bundle of rummage to be admitted. It seems a long way from Kentucky to New York City, but since this service has devoted workers in many cities, I hope that this particular committee’s activity may be very successful and mean much to the health of the Kentucky mountaineers, over whom Mrs. Breckinridge watches with such devoted interest.

I had a delightful lunch with Mrs. Woodring, the wife of the Secretary of War, and returned to a number of appointments. The first two ladies came armed with written questions for fear that once inside the White House, the White House would wipe out all their ideas!

Then there was a visit from Dr. Robert Townsend, which interested me very much. I sometimes wonder whether our devotion to a cause may have the effect of narrowing our point of view until we are unable to take a broad enough outlook on the world as a whole to have the proper perspective on our particular interest. Yet, on the other hand, the drive of the person with the restricted interest is desperately needed to move almost any cause forward against the apathetic attitude taken by most people.

There was a succession of other guests and now, at 6:00 p.m., I must get back to my desk.

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March 9, 1940

Washington, Friday –
We had a very interesting evening on Thursday. A number of members of Congress and their wives came to see the picture called Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet. It is about the life of Dr. Ehrlich and is as thrilling as the life of Dr. Pasteur. Everybody present not already familiar with the story of how this particular scientific discovery was made, was deeply interested.

I wish we all could achieve the scientific spirit which wants to reach the root of the trouble, rather than to worry along with superficial knowledge content to ameliorate our ills instead of searching for the cure. It seems to me that the principle involved is applicable to so much that the world is facing today. Instead of accepting any straw at which we can grasp, and which seems temporarily to alleviate certain difficulties, the application of the scientific spirit, which insists on knowing the whole case, facing all the implications of a situation, and then experiments until the successful answer is found, is probably the attitude which all of should have toward the world problems before us.

We need the kind of courage that Dr. Ehrlich and his assistants had. It did not allow them to give up when they expected success after a few experiments, but gave them the strength to face disappointments until “606” proved the answer to their riddle.

This morning, I went to speak in the Town Hall series of lectures. Next week Miss Elizabeth Hawes will be their lecturer and I think the audience will find her both entertaining and stimulating. I had the pleasure last spring of talking to her about a project in which she was interested, and was fascinated by her personality even more than by the subject on which she was conversing. She told me she runs a business because she feels she must do some regular work and she writes only as an avocation. Here she can give free rein to her imagination, which has made her successful in the art of dressing lovely ladies, and also in the art of producing new ideas on paper for our enjoyment.

I attended the Voteless District of Columbia League of Women Voters’ annual luncheon and enjoyed very much a dramatic presentation which gave the League’s conception of the problems of the District of Columbia. The scenes were cleverly done, especially the last where the cast joins in the singing of a song to the tune of “Oh, Johnny.” It is amusing enough for me to hope that the District Committees will invite the group to come and sing this song for them. Their hearings must be rather dull and solemn and this might give a few brief moments of relaxation to weary gentlemen.

Miss Luise Rainer, who is here starring in Saint Joan for the benefit of the American Red Cross, is coming to see me this afternoon. I look forward to the pleasure of a few minutes chat with her.

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March 11, 1940

Washington, Sunday –
On Friday morning, the newspapers carried the news of the death of Mr. Edwin Markham, the poet. He was a very old man. Many people have enjoyed his gift of poetry and his passing must bring a sense of loss to them.

However, I feel a greater sense of personal loss in the death of Dr. John H. Finley, editor emeritus of the New York Times. All who came in contact with Dr. Finley felt in him a fine spirit. He had great abilities, he used them in the service of mankind, and he gave of himself unstintingly for the sake of his ideals and the good of his fellow human beings. I always liked to go to a dinner where he was going to preside or make a speech, for I inevitably came away with something stimulating about which to think. In his passing, many of us have lost a little bit of courage, for he was one of the people you could always be sure would stand up for the things in which he believed.

Mrs. Finley has worked so closely with him that she will carry on many of his interests. But, when two people work together, burdens are easy to carry, when one must work alone everything seems more difficult of accomplishment. All of us realize how much more than a personal loss this means to Mrs. Finley. There is a great pride in the achievements of a man like Dr. Finley, or like Mr. Raymond Ingersoll, President of the Borough of Brooklyn, New York City, who passed away a short time ago. There is also gratitude, that women like Mrs. Finley and Mrs. Ingersoll are still with us to carry on the ideals and work of their husbands.

Friday evening we saw two rather interesting short films. One of them on the shelter belt planting, is so good that I hope it may be shown as a short in many commercial theatres. Through it, people everywhere who are not familiar with this particular bit of conservation work, will better understand what it has meant to human beings like themselves on farms in the wind-swept prairie region of the United States. The other film shows the lead and zinc mines in the area of our country where Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado meet. This is designed to bring home to us the danger to the workers in those mines from the dust which eventually give them silicosis and a predisposition to tuberculosis, from which they die at an early age.

These people live in the shadow of great piles of waste which disintegrates and blows around in dust, so that the children are affected in precisely the same way as the workers in the mines. There must be ways of discovering methods of keeping this dust down in the mines. The living quarters of those families should be moved from the dangerous area. I hope this picture will also be commercially shown and that it will awaken the interest of the people of the United States to make it easier for the unions to obtain proper working and living conditions.

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March 12, 1940

St. Louis, Monday –
I had no space yesterday to tell you about the party given on Saturday night by the Women’s National Press Club. There were a great number of distinguished guests, ranging from Gracie Allen, the first lady to throw her hat into the ring as a Presidential candidate; to the wives of Cabinet members; Miss Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor; and various representatives from the halls of Congress and of the Government.

Miss Rosa Ponselle opened the evening by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” with the Marine Band. Then we sat down to a delightful dinner at tables decorated with the gayest red tulips. The arrangement of the tables this year was excellent, for no one had to move in order to see the show that followed.

It seemed to me that the show moved faster and more smoothly than ever before. The lines were clever and I spent an entertaining and delightful evening. The spirit behind the show seemed kindlier than ever before and it left me rather little to combat when, at the end, I had the opportunity to speak the last word. So, as often happens, soft words were followed by soft words and we parted in a most amiable mood.

As always happens when I start out on a short trip like this, I find myself very hurried on the last day. However, I managed to spend an hour in the morning yesterday walking around the Basin. The only sign of spring was a great number of young people hiring bicycles to go off into the country. There wasn’t a bud on the cherry trees, for I walked along under them and gazed at each one hopefully.

A good many people came to lunch, among them Mr. Leopold Stokowski, who came to tell us of his prospective trip with an orchestra drawn from the ranks of NYA youth. He says it is going to be a fine orchestra and he is about to begin his tour around the country to make his final choices of those who are to go with him. He envisions this as a musical awakening for the United States, and an international force for goodwill throughout the world. Our interest and good wishes are with him in one of the most interesting projects carried on by any individual in the country today.

While we are talking about art, I want to tell you about something new that has come to my attention, a new form of art developed by a young American, Floyd M. Nichols, born in Brooklyn, but growing up in David City, Nebraska. A devotee from boyhood of Western life, he became first a commercial welder, but now has developed an art of his own. It is a new medium of sculpture and uses welding tools and many types of metals in the making of diminutive statuettes dealing with the life of the Old West. When I return, I hope to see them.

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March 13, 1940

Lansing, Mich., Tuesday –
We had a very pleasant trip yesterday afternoon. Much to our surprise, we were met in St. Louis by Mr. T. M. Hayes of the Wabash Railroad. It turned out that he had been with Mr. Frederic Delano for ten years, that the latter was president of the Wabash and for several years thereafter. We were his guests on the trip to Decatur, Illinois, where he was born and raised, and then back to Chicago. He made it a very pleasant journey. It is always interesting to travel with someone who is very enthusiastic about his job, and the Wabash Railroad is quite evidently one of the main interests in Mr. Hayes’ life. His father was with the railroad for 57 years, and he has already 37 years of service behind him.

Traditions such as this are rather rare in the United States, but the great opportunities for material advancement in our country came out several times in the conversation. He mentioned another man, who started as a telegrapher and today, in middle life, occupies one of the high executive positions in another railroad.

I am not sure that in the next decade our young people can look forward to quite such rapid changes in their material situation, but it seems to me that there are more and more opportunities for leadership of groups are opening up. These are found in labor, agricultural, civic and political groups. They will, perhaps, lead to a more divided and more widely distributed material rise and will give many individuals tremendous scope for their powers of leadership. The guiding of such groups through the transition period, which has many pitfalls but also many future possibilities, will be tremendously interesting and will satisfy the highest type of ambition.

One sees no sign of spring in any of the places we have been in so far, and so I was rather surprised to find quite a crowd braving the cold air to great me at the station last night. We went directly from the train to the lecture hall. The audience in Decatur was an excellent audience, quiet and attentive, and the questions asked at the close of the lecture were nearly all interesting ones. Before leaving the building, I was able to greet one of the patients who had been at Warm Springs, Ga., and who returns there every six months. She is now attending the university and shows in her face a happy spirit, which is an achievement for she has to move around in a wheelchair.

Then I met a large group of newspaper people and returned to the train for a comfortable night on the way to Chicago.

This morning we were met by our friend, Inspector Daly, and after a very good breakfast, we drove about for an hour. It was the first time I had seen the University of Chicago buildings and the outside of the Rosenwald Museum. Sometime I hope to have time to see a little more of both these institutions. Now we are back on the train bound for Lansing, Michigan.

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March 14, 1940

Kokomo, Ind., Tuesday –
We reached Lansing, Mich., yesterday afternoon in time for me to have a chat with the Democratic vice-chairman of the State Central Committee, Mrs. Belen, and the head of the Eleanor Roosevelt League, Mrs. DeVitis. Then we had an hour drive around the campus of Michigan State College.

These wonderful state universities are a constant surprise and a matter of great pride to me. This college has the distinction of being the one where agriculture was first taught for college credits. Many of the people who have made names for themselves in other parts of the country, received their education here. Mr. Liberty Hyde Bailey of Cornell fame, and Mr. Ulysses Prentiss Hedrick, of the Geneva Experiment Station in New York State, both came from this university.

Michigan State College has evidently taken every advantage which the federal government offered it. The number of buildings which have gone up during the past few years is really extraordinary. They have a perfect little music building, an athletic building which will be the envy of many universities, dormitories and many other buildings.

They tell me that a boy or girl can go through the university on $500 a year. They have made good use of NYA grants and the college also gives a great many work opportunities because, like nearly all state universities, a great many young people work their way through and, what is more, live on bread and milk to do it.

I did not have time to visit any WPA or NYA projects, but the results of one of the NYA projects was brought to me at the hotel after my lecture. It was a delicious smoked turkey which the NYA directors from Wisconsin had taken with them. They are training boys in both Wisconsin and Michigan in work which may augment the cash incomes on farms on marginal land.

When we awakened in Chicago this morning, we discovered that Illinois had a sleet storm during the night. Trees and shrubs and winter grasses in the field are encased in ice. It is very beautiful to look at, but not so pleasant when you have to drive about. We went slowly through the streets of Chicago to our breakfast at the Stevens Hotel and now we are on our way to Kokomo, Ind.

Everywhere I go, I am hearing more about the project which the professional and service department of WPA is planning for the week of April 22-27. They are hoping for 20 million visitors to their projects during that week. They will open the week with a 25¢ dinner where they hope sponsors, workers and staff members will sit down together and listen to a national broadcast and prepare for the coming week, in which every community, we hope, will become acquainted with what is getting through the work done on WPA.

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March 15, 1940

Chicago, Thursday –
Such weather as we had yesterday afternoon in Kokomo, Indiana. I was so discouraged that I stayed in the hotel all through it and held a press conference which was largely attended by high school students, then met a group of Democratic women who were accompanied by two gentlemen, and finally saw the WPA and NYA directors. I was sorry not to see some of their projects, but I made up for it this morning. Unfortunately, none of the young people were on the job, so I only saw the results of their labors.

The dinner given last night before the lecture was very pleasant. Part of the choir of the Grace Methodist Church, which sang at the World’s Fair last year, sang for us and added very much to our pleasure. This morning, I was driven around the city. Mr. Frederick, who went with us, certainly knows how to dramatize the story of Kokomo’s comeback from the Depression. He said that all the banks had failed and that only three of their plants were running. Still, without help from the government, they reorganized and built up the city. He bases the success which they have had on the fact that they have a successful understanding between the employers and the labor groups. They are an organized city which has granted even to unorganized industries the right of collective bargaining. During the Depression, through the cooperation and joint efforts of both labor and capital, they have rehabilitated the industrial life of the city.

They rebuilt some of the buildings of industries which had closed. New industries came because of the goodwill which existed between the workers and the employers. They still have some unemployed, but if what they told me this morning is true, this should be one of the first places to find the solution to our unemployment problem. I have a feeling that they should be asked to do some intensive work and experimentation here.

In a speech made not very long ago, Mr. Milo Perkins suggested that the principle of the stamp plan used for surplus food and surplus cotton might be used in solving the unemployment problem. There might be people here who would consider working on that idea.

Apparently peace has come to Finland, but not a very happy peace. Somehow, it seems to me that the nations of the world must find a way of guaranteeing the rights of small countries to live unmolested within their own borders in the way that they desire to live, so long as they do not interfere with the rights of their neighbors. Unless some such agreement is brought about, it seems to me that the rule of force will continue inevitably and that rule endangers all small independent peoples.

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March 16, 1940

Hamilton, Ohio, Friday –
Such a pleasant surprise as greeted me in Chicago! I had barely walked into the hotel, when the telephone rang, and it was our son, Jimmy, to tell me that he was in Chicago on business. He dined with us last night and breakfasted with us this morning, and I hope to see him again in New York City next week. Unexpected pleasures are always particularly nice and, because I thought he had gone back to California some time ago, this was a real joy.

I didn’t waste much time yesterday afternoon after my arrival in Chicago. First of all, I went to listen to a broadcast which the Chicago Tribune Radio Station dedicated to civil liberties and to me. The Chicago WPA writers project wrote the script, and it was certainly both interestingly and dramatically done. Then I was presented with a portrait of myself, painted by Mrs. Margaret Johannsen, who began her painting at the age of 50. I am afraid that I was a sad disappointment to her, for I had to tell her that I had no desire for portraits of myself and that I had refused over and over again to sit for one. I hope that she will able to find someone else to whom she can give this particular work of art.

There was a short reception for the members of the committee of the Chicago Civil Liberties Union, and then Mr. Thomason of the Chicago Daily Times drove me out to the small hospital on the lake where children with heart ailments are cared for. They have capacity for 100 children. The doctor in charge, who is one of Chicago’s leading pediatricians, is wrapped heart and soul in the work for these youngsters. If they are given proper care, they almost always get well. If not, they die. The average gain in weight for these little patients is a pound a week, and I think this is due to the fact that the management is extraordinarily good. The food is not only appetizing, but very carefully chosen. Each child gets a quart a milk of day and this is done in spite of a food cost which compares well with many institutions where the diet is not accomplishing such desirable results.

Children’s institutions are always appealing. As I looked at these youngsters, I felt grateful that so many people in Chicago had been moved to give them a chance to live useful and happy lives. Somewhat sadly, the doctor said to me:

We can take a hundred, and we are the only institution caring for this type of case. There are approximately 10,000 children in Chicago needing this care.

Back at the hotel, I had a visit from some acquaintances. Then Miss Frances Williams, executive secretary of the American Youth Congress, who is at present on a trip through the Midwest, came to see us. These youngsters work hard trying to build a worthwhile program for their local councils and I have a great respect for the unselfishness with which their work is done.

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March 18, 1940

Washington, Sunday –
Practically all of Friday was spent on the train between Chicago and Hamilton, Ohio. There were no signs of spring, but much land outside of Chicago, just as on the trip from Kokomo, Ind., looked like fertile and prosperous farm land. There was little time in Hamilton for anything but the lecture, and after it was over, we drove into Cincinnati in order to leave early Saturday morning for Terre Haute, Indiana.

In Terre Haute, I spoke for the Teachers State College in the early afternoon, and then Miss Thompson and I parted. She returned to Washington by plane and I flew back.

I always enjoy speaking at any institution where they train young people, but particularly where teachers are being given the start on an education which must continue all their lives. No real teacher can ever stop learning. The only way that one can inspire youth is to keep on being enthusiastic and eager to learn also. That can only be done if one touches new subjects constantly and opens new windows of the mind and heart that give one a zest for living and keep one eternally young.

In the February issue of Parents Magazine, there was a symposium in which a number of distinguished men told what kind of men they hoped their sons would be. Each man, I imagine, reflected his own image in his answer, and some of the things which were said struck a responsive chord in me. Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, ended with these words:

I hope each (of my four sons) may be a better man than I am and that their generation may be a better one than mine.

Such modesty has probably made of his boys just what he wishes them to be, and I think every one of us, fathers and mothers, would echo that same wish. If only our children can begin a little ahead of our own starting point, we will feel that our experience has counted for something.

Mr. Donald C. Peattie, naturalist and author, in the same symposium, expressed beautifully something which I have often wanted to say:

May my sons’ religion be a reverence for life. May they judge by this all things that come to them. May they never fail to feel that gratitude for being alive, which is indestructible happiness. May they worship, as the manifest glory of this religion, the natural beauty of the world, and see it never through eyes dimmed by materialism. So, true to an imperishable reality, may they become strong men for any fight, but sure of what they fight for.

I am back in Washington today and, for the first time in some years, at home on our wedding anniversary. There is no special celebration, for we are rather an ancient married couple, but the President is going to see Gone With The Wind, which ought to be enough entertainment for any day in the year!

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March 19, 1940

Washington, Monday –
At last, I have seen my first sign of spring. In our nicely protected garden back of the White House, crocuses are out. I walked out there yesterday to show the grounds to a visitor and there were the first little yellow flowers. The air, too, is soft and my fur scarf felt really too warm when I went out this morning. This has been a going away day, for two guests left at 8:30 and another one at a little after 11:00.

The President is keeping his appointments, but still stays in the house. He refused to exert himself yesterday to the extent of seeing Gone With The Wind, so that experience is still before him. I did, however, this time, see it from beginning to end. I think it is a beautiful picture as far as color, acting and characterizations are concerned, but the horror of the hospital scenes seems to me dreadful. What it must be to have insufficient supplies and no anesthetics, nothing which deadens human suffering. That could happen today and the thought of it is appalling. Just to die, never seemed to me so terrible, though one might have preferences as to the way in which one might prefer to do so, but to endure horrible physical pain when one knows that there are ways of alleviating it, seems so senseless and wasteful.

After the press conference this morning, I went with a group of Congressmen’s wives, Mrs. Dorothy McAllister and Mrs. May Evans of the Women’s Division of the Democratic National Committee, to visit my nearest public school. The District of Columbia has had two surveys in the past few years of the public school system. There is a plan now for a seven-year building program which will eliminate the school I saw this morning, by consolidating it with two others into one really adequate building which can be run at a more reasonable cost.

In the meantime, the children in this building play in winter in a damp and fairly dark cellar room. Those who are given lunch, eat in the same type of room. Even the tiniest tots have to go down into the cellar to reach the toilets. There is no auditorium, no gymnasium and in spite of years of study, a modern curriculum has not yet been adopted. It looked to me as though the teachers here were doing all they could to make their old-fashioned and somewhat unsanitary surroundings attractive and interesting, but they were certainly laboring under difficulties.

We then went to visit the recreation department. They do not feel that they are doing an adequate job for the District of Columbia children, but thanks to the interest of Mr. Frederic Delano and other public spirited citizens, there is a coordination of effort here which has resulted in a good program, though there should be more of it.

One of the students chosen under the new cultural program for better understanding between South America and ourselves, Miss Esther Mathews, came to lunch today. She goes to Chile shortly and I think she will make good use of her time and be a good representative of our American student body.

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March 20, 1940

Washington, Tuesday –
I had a few visitors yesterday afternoon and went out in the evening for a half an hour to speak to a group here in the District. This morning was free, and I went for the first ride I have had in months. It was good to get out again, even if the ground was rather soft in spots. The thought that I could not ride again until Friday made me feel that I had better be very conservative, so as not to be completely stiffened up tomorrow.

Today, I have had a delightful luncheon with Mrs. Robert Jackson, wife of the Attorney General, and I have no further official engagements.

I find that quite inadvertently I made two statements which were not true in this column, and I must correct them. Both of them were about thrift shops, one in Washington and one in New York City. When I mentioned the Thrift Shop Ball which I attended, I said it was the one thrift shop here. As a matter of fact, the Women’s League for Peace has had a thrift shop in the District of Columbia for two years.

In New York City, I said that the Frontier Nursing Service was participating in a thrift shop called “The Bargain Box,” but I should have added other organizations have been working in the same cause much longer. They are the Association for Aid to Crippled Children, the Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service, the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the Lincoln Hospital, and the Metropolitan Hospital.

I have been familiar with all these charities for a long time, and there is no excuse for my not knowing that they were the ones who founded this now well established thrift shop. I apologize for not having mentioned them because, of course, one wants to stimulate the interests of people from every group. Thrift shops can only flourish when they have a wide clientele of people who bring them things to sell, and people who come to buy.

Mr. Robert S. Bowen, the scrapbook editor of the Madison Enterprise Recorder, Madison, Florida, begs me to urge every Southern poet to send his poetry in to him. He is planning to publish a Suwanee River anthology of Southern poets, and he wants to include the work of as many writers as possible. The South should bring forth many poets, for it is a land where the countryside and other conditions inspire poetic expression.

March 21, 1940

New York, Wednesday –
The hunting accident, which happened to my daughter-in-law, Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt Jr., yesterday, upset us all considerably. We must be grateful that she was not killed. I suppose one cannot blame the horse, for the ground is still somewhat slippery. To be laid up for some months is going to be very hard for Ethel. I hate to think of the pain and discomfort which she must go through. I suppose it is a great deal to ask, but I wish that all young married people with children would give up hunting. I know how much fun it must be for them and that they never expect any accident to happen, but to an old and timid person like myself to take risks seems unnecessary.

I suppose weeks in bed give us an opportunity for inner growth which nothing else might achieve and so, perhaps, this is one of the ways in which the Lord educates His children. When I was a child, we had an old nurse who used to say whenever anything particularly unfortunate happened to us:

Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.

Perhaps it is comforting to feel that whatever happens to us is probably intended to give us a chance for spiritual development.

I flew to New York City this morning on a very early plane, and the dentist and I have a rendezvous at noon! Easter is drawing near, so I must do some Easter shopping. Among other things, an article in the New York Herald Tribune warns us against buying our children and grandchildren live chicks and bunnies for Easter, and suggests that the toy ones give just as much pleasure. I quite agree and can well understand why the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is fostering a campaign against this habit of giving children poor little defenseless animals at Easter. I never thought it was healthy for either the animals or the children, so I hope this campaign will be very successful. There is just one place where baby chicks and rabbits are permissible and that is on the farm.

Freedom from entertaining these days is really most refreshing. I spent the whole of yesterday doing extremely feminine things, such as having my hair done and going to tea with a friend. It seemed almost unheard of to have time for anything as leisurely and peaceful as that and we actually drove home through Rock Creek Park. Just because the air is warmer does not mean that the trees have begun to bud. I can’t say that I saw many signs of spring.

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March 22, 1940

New York, Thursday –
Yesterday started in an amusing way. Late on Tuesday evening, I found I could obtain no seat on the plane I wanted to take to New York, so I decided to take the early one that left at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. I reached the airport with the conviction I always have, that in spring and summer one should go to bed early and rise early. At the ticket counter, I met Mrs. Allie Freed, who seems to travel back and forth almost as often as I do. She announced that she had been unable to sleep because she had to rise early, and then I realized I had been awake since 4:30 for that very same reason, though I had left word to be called at 6!

In spite of all our hurry, we started half an hour late, because one of the incoming planes had motor trouble and most of the passengers had to be transferred to other ships. The flight to New York was lovely and I had time to do quite a bit of shopping before my first appointment.

My cousin and her son lunched with me at the Cosmopolitan Club, where I saw a number of old friends. After that, I dropped in at a gallery on 57th Street, where the New York Society of Craftsmen is having an exhibition. There are beautiful examples of weaving, pottery, pewter, silverware and some lovely jewelry.

After this, I crossed the street to see the exhibition which Mr. Robert Jackson has on view at the Charles Morgan Gallery. He tells me has been at work for a year painting types of New York City Negroes and he has certainly done a very remarkable piece of work. The thing which struck me was that, for the first time, I looked at people who did not have the pathos of a sorrowful race mirrored in their eyes. There is only one drawing which gives one that feeling. He has caught the fine dignity in the head of Judge Watson, the abandon and grace of the dancers, a certain vitality which is close to the earth, but that “weltschmerz” which is the interpretation of the race given by so many artists, is hardly evident in the whole collection.

I was back at my apartment by 3:30 and had a succession of visitors. One wanted to go to Hollywood, one had a personal problem, one had a very good plan for helping to employ some of our youth if she could work it out. I was left with a short story and a play to read. Then Miss Thompson, Mrs. June Rhodes and I enjoyed a cup of tea and light-hearted, purposeless conversation from 5:15 on.

Later, I went to the dinner in honor of Mrs. Henderson, who 50 years ago founded the predecssor to the “Vocational Service for Juniors,” which does such good work in guiding young people that both state and nation have profited from its pattern. It was a nice dinner and you felt that all present wanted to give homage to her to whom homage was due.

This morning, I have another dentist appointment and will visit my mother-in-law, who has been laid up with a cold for some days.

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March 23, 1940

Washington, Friday –
When I walked into my sitting room in the White House at 1:30 today, a huge vase of daffodils greeted me and I felt my spirit, which had been somewhat low, rise like a rocket. My low spirits were the result of a very high wind which delayed us in our flight down to Washington and gave us pretty rough weather which finally forced us to land at Bolling Field. This meant that the cars at the regular airport had to drive over. The wind almost blew us off the ground when we stepped out of the plane, so we all went back into it and waited.

I nervously wondered if Miss Thompson would feed my guests, who were already sitting in the White House. On arrival, I found them still sitting unfed! I hustled Miss Thompson down and poor Mrs. Helm greeted me with the news that she was suffering from sinus. Then I looked in on my husband, who said that he had told the press yesterday that he had swamp fever, but today he decided it was jungle fever. However, he looked really better and Mr. Frank Walker, who was with him, looked cheerful too, so that raised my spirits one point and the yellow daffodils did the rest.

I enjoyed yesterday’s lunch with the foreign correspondents very much. Both of my neighbors of the British and French press were charming, and more than kind. I like questions so much better than standing up and lecturing people who can’t answer back.

Before I attended the luncheon, I had a rather pathetic experience. The poor little couple who run Aunt Martha’s Box Lunch Service, felt I had harmed their business and asked to be allowed to tell me their side of the controversy with the lunch box boys. Mrs. Corbetoff was voluble, Mr. Corbetoff was silent, but it was quite evident that they needed a mediator with plenty of time to verify the statements made by all sides, to look over their business and give them sound advice and a little courage. He must see too, that the boys get a fair break, so they will have enough interest really to build up the business. I left them feeling sorry for everyone concerned and read with relief in this morning’s papers that the head of the mediation board has heard this little struggle and successfully concluded it.

After lunch, I talked for a few minutes with Dr. Rudolph Kagey and am deeply interested in his plans for a new type of educational exhibition at the New York World’s Fair this spring. Then I went home to meet some friends and, last but not least, to spend an hour with my own boys.

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