Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (Oct. 1940)



By Eleanor Roosevelt

October 1, 1940

Hyde Park, Monday—
Though it is a gray day today, I have just come in from a ride through the woods, where the colors are becoming more and more beautiful every day. Across our brook there are some trees that have turned a brilliant scarlet, next to them are some deep green pines and a yellow tree. They all reflect in the smooth surface of the water and make a most beautiful picture from the window where I write.

It is curious to be able to sit here and write you about these quiet pleasures, and to have listened to the radio this morning with news of the nightly bombing in London with scarcely a respite before the morning raids began. The British seem to raid quite as often and as steadily, but their objectives do not seem to be entirely concentrated on a city like London, or, as reported this morning, such smaller cities as Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

There seems to be a difference in objectives. On the one hand, the Germans seem to be trying to break the morale of the people by attacking the places where humanity is concentrated. The RAF, on the other hand, seems to put more emphasis on attacking the oil supplies or factories and Channel ports where shipping and supplies may be massed for an effort to land in England. I suppose the Germans make an effort to do this too, but perhaps it is harder to find such scattered objectives.

The English are a curious people. They criticize each other and their government freely in times of peace. They are individualistic as any people in the world, from the duchess who dresses always as the fashions were in her youth, even though she may be 80 years old to the woman who will run a London flat for you and try to run your life as well. She will apparently know all about you and yet never intrude, and will do her job according to its traditions, never doing more nor less than she thinks they require.

Yes, they are an individualistic people, and I don’t think anything could draw them together more solidly and make them act as a unit more surely than continued attack. They have whatever it takes to stand up under long drawn out pressure.

Miss Thompson and I are leaving for a little jaunt into New England. Tonight we will be with our friends, Miss Esther Lape and Miss Elizabeth Read in Connecticut. Tomorrow you will hear from us somewhere along our way, but where we will lay our heads for the night is still in the lap of the gods.

October 2, 1940

Fall River, Mass., Tuesday –
We did not get started quite as soon as we had hoped yesterday morning. The mail came and it seemed foolish not to sign the letters which had been so long on the way. So, with one thing and another, it was 12:40 before we actually took to the road in holiday mood.

The skies cleared as we drove along and some of the views of distant hillsides were very lovely. One, I remember in particular; green trees climbing up to sheer red cliffs and, perched on top, two isolated houses. I suppose there are ways of reaching these houses, but they looked as cut off from human approach as any chalet in the high Alps.

I could not help thinking it would be nice to retire there for brief periods now and then – if one could find the secret path up there and one down again when one wished to return to the world with its cares and its joys.

We thought we had lost our New England roadmap, so we stopped at a gas station to get another one. Miss Thompson went in and a young gas attendant accompanied her back to the car to ask if we needed oil or water and to wish us a pleasant trip. He added:

I hope you don’t come back wearing Willkie buttons.

A wise warning, since we are journeying in the land of the “enemy,” who seems nevertheless to be a very friendly one.

It is curious how some houses take atmosphere from the people who live in them. For instance, the room I was in last night in Westbrook, Conn., is one to which I always enjoy returning. At this season, the fire burns on the hearth and the most capacious woodbox I have ever seen stands beside it. All the pictures speak of summer, however, and a bowl of cosmos and one white rose serves notice that the garden is in bloom.

The chairs are deep and comfortable. The desk is big enough to invite you to work. There are books everywhere. In short, it is a room that is lived in and in which you could live.

I used to think it was a gift from the gods to arrange furniture to make a room attractive. I don’t think so anymore. There is something, of course, in having a flair for the right place for a chair or a lamp, but that may be acquired. The thing really necessary is that someone should live in a house so that the house reflects the personality and takes on the feeling of warmth and companionable human relationships.

We were up early this morning and after breakfast and a little exercise we started off on our day’s drive. This column must be sent off when only half the day is over, so I shall save the further tale of our journey till tomorrow.

October 3, 1940

Buzzards Bay, Mass., Wednesday –
We started off from Westbrook, Conn., under gray skies yesterday morning, and before long the first drops of rain appeared on our windshield. It rained off and on all day. Curiously enough, this did not spoil the day, for we had no fog. By late afternoon, it cleared sufficiently for us to have lovely cloud effects with the most beautiful blending of grayish pink in the sky, which colored the water as well.

I stopped in Fall River, Mass., for I wanted to see Mrs. Louis Howe. I was lucky enough to find her at the post office. She took us up to her newly acquired home on the top of the ridge which overlooks the river. I am always deeply interested in seeing any of my friends’ homes, so this was a nice break in our long drive.

In Fairhaven, we drove through the streets of the old town in order to get a glimpse of the homestead built by my mother-in-law’s grandfather, and which has always been a place of reunion for my husband’s family.

We stopped under a big pine tree outside of Marion and ate our lunch in the car, for just at that moment the rain was coming down quite steadily. Then we started on our drive up the Cape, taking the south shore road on the way up. I like the Cape, and I think Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown have a delightful atmosphere. We reached Provincetown early enough to drive slowly through the streets and around Land’s End. The rain stopped and we enjoyed a view out to sea and the little narrow streets, which, by the way, were never designed for the modern automobile.

We spent the night at a little inn where we could get breakfast but no dinner, so we sallied forth for a walk and ended up at the “Flagship” where we had a very good seafood dinner. Every effort is made in this restaurant to make you feel that you are on board ship. The bar even is built to look like the side of a ship, and life preservers, ship’s lanterns, etc., hang from the rafters. You pass a very attractive charcoal grill on the way in, but the most attractive spot in the big room is the enormous fireplace, where a roaring fire lights all the corners.

This is a friendly world and before long, the lady who runs this restaurant came to speak to me. Then a lady at a table behind me told me she came from Nyack, NY, and a man from Truro said he was a local reporter for the New York Times.

When I reached the street and walked past the community center, a group of boys recognized me and followed me around, even after it began to rain. Finally, I had to tell them I could not stop in at their club meeting, because I thought the rain was increasing and I had on clothes which had to be kept dry, for I travel rather light.

We are driving back along the north shore today. Over the radio yesterday, we heard the sad news of Colonel Harrington’s death. It was really a great shock, for I thought of him as a young man and had not realized that he was seriously ill. It is sad to lose him, for good men can never be spared without regret and loss to their colleagues.

October 4, 1940

Nahant, Mass., Thursday –
Yesterday proved to be a delightful day for driving. Though it clouded up once or twice, the sky was blue and the sun was not so bright as to tire my eyes. We drove back on the north side of the cape and went to Mattapoisett to see Mrs. Charles Hamlin.

It was a coincidence that, as I hesitated, wondering which lane led down to her house, two kindly looking people stood on the corner. The lady came forward and said she would like to shake hands with me, since she was from Boston and with her husband was ardently supporting the President. When I told Mrs. Hamlin of the incident, remarking that I imagined there were rather few people I would find with the same feeling thereabouts, she said:

They are almost the only summer people who feel that way.

We only had a short time with Mrs. Hamlin, but she showed us the havoc the storm had wrought two years ago and described so vividly the mountainous waves, that I could really imagine what it had been like.

On the table in her living room were a quantity of gourds and different varieties of little tomatoes and beautiful begonias, all of which she had been selling at a roadside stand for the benefit of the children’s dental fund in the village. These were the leftovers, so I walked away with two boxes and decided this was my day for gifts.

When I left the hotel in Provincetown yesterday morning, the maid came dashing up with a jar of beach plum jelly. This jelly, I think, is very delicious and I was delighted to take it home to use on very special occasions and to share only with my friends of discriminating taste.

I stopped long enough in Plymouth for Miss Thompson to improve her education by a glimpse of Plymouth Rock. We both agreed that this is a very small stone for our forefathers to have put so much dependence and we are glad that what now remains of it is well protected. An energetic young man overtook us and suggested that we come up to see the old First Church, but I had done all my real sightseeing some years ago and was anxious to reach Nahant as early as possible.

Driving through Boston has always seemed to me a little confusing, but we went through yesterday with great ease because of the direction of a kindly garage man, plus a map of the city. We reached Nahant at 4:15 and a little later we had tea with my youngest grandson holding court on the sofa. He behaved very well and seemed to know at once that we were old friends. The only person whose nose is a little out of joint is Percy, the dachshund, who for four years held the center of the stage and now is obliged to share it.

John could not reach home until late, for they had a sale today at his branch store. He certainly enjoys his business and, after all, that is the most important element in all work we undertake.

This morning, we left after the baby had his bath and are now on our way back to Hyde Park over the Mohawk Trail where the colors of autumn may be seen at their best.

October 5, 1940

Hyde Park, Friday –
I am still revelling in the beauty which we enjoyed yesterday. I think this year the coloring is particularly vivid. Nothing could have been lovelier than the whole drive over the Mohawk Trail and then down through Pittsfield, Lenox and Stockbridge, Mass., to reach home about 6:00.

We found two friends waiting to greet us and had a very pleasant evening, though Miss Thompson attacked the mountain of mail which is always the result of a few days’ holiday. She brought me enough work at 10:30 to keep me busy until 3:00 a.m.

I did not get started so early this morning. After various telephone messages and the inevitable arrangements for the weekend, I finally mounted my horse and rode through the woods for an hour and a half. The sun is still deliciously warm, but all the flies are finally gone. There is something very invigorating in the air so that one feels one can do twice as much as is ordinarily possible.

My mother-in-law, her sister, Mrs. Price Collier and my sister-in-law, Mrs. J. R. Roosevelt, all came to lunch with me. Now they have gone and we are about to start out to do some errands in Poughkeepsie. This is really a wonderful shopping center. I don’t often have the time to remember how much I could do here in the way of Christmas shopping, if I were only to put my mind on it early enough.

Next week, from the 6th to the 12th of October, will be National Business Women’s Week. They have taken as their theme “Business Women In A Democracy.” During the current club year, they are building their program around the idea of “Making Democracy Work.”

I feel so strongly that this is a very important program and one in which all women should cooperate in forwarding. Business women are accustomed to organization. They know the value of planning a program and carrying it out systematically. They know how to obtain publicity and what kind of publicity will help to spread interest in democracy. The business women in this country could really organize many of the unorganized women and carry out a program of working in and for a democracy.

They would first have to make sure that every woman knew what democracy meant to her and saw in terms of the way she lives her daily life. That takes into account how she treats her friends and the people who work for her in her home or in other capacities where her life touches theirs and, above all, what she does to cooperate with her government to preserve democracy, not for herself alone, but for all the people in the country. If business women make their program a clarion call for the women of the nation, this year will be well spent.

October 7, 1940

Hyde Park, Sunday –
I lay in bed on my porch this morning and watched the little yellow leaves drifting slowly down to the earth. It is warm still and the air is soft, but the leaves are covering the ground and that burning smell we all associate with autumn is prevalent around us.

There is something rather helpless about these leaves as they drift slowly past the window. I often think they are very like us, strong and proud so long as they are tightly attached to the branch on which they grew, but rudderless once they leave that center of strength. How strong we are so long as we have within us some central core of courage and conviction, and how weak and rudderless when that is shaken.

We all attended the dedication of the schools yesterday and the President reaffirmed a belief which has always been ours in this country – that no dictatorship can take hold when there is free education. The point, however, is that it must be free and it must grow with the needs of the day.

I wonder, sometimes, whether we shall insist on keeping it free. Freedom must include the permission to examine and discuss unpopular subjects and a tolerant attitude towards those who think differently from the way the majority may think at the moment. I think growth to meet the needs of the day has lagged in education during the past few years. We require open minds, for changes are needed and what they are we have not yet agreed upon.

Last evening, we drove down to New York City to attend the pageant and concert presented by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in Madison Square Garden. With rare foresight this union has put the arts to work. They have recognized the need which human beings have for bread and for dignity in labor, but they have also proved the need for inspiration and idealism. The arts answer this need. Labor needs music and marching songs. Labor needs the creative satisfaction gained through the drama, the dance, and many other avenues of self-expression.

A pageant on the nation’s growth and based on Walt Whitman’s poetry called “I Hear America Singing” was the high point of the evening. With labor’s growth, the country has grown, for, after all, labor is the country.

It is a curious distinction that we have made for ourselves between capital, as represented by people who handle money, and labor, as represented by people who do the actual work. We are all people and we must work to fulfill our destiny. If only we would all recognize this fact and work together and make money work for us all without division and as one great group of working people, what a different place our world would be.

We reached home at 1:30, tired but with a feeling of inspiration gained from the evening.

October 8, 1940

Hyde Park, Monday –
We had a birthday party last night at the big house, even though it was not my birthday! On the 11th, the President will be on a train in Pittsburgh, and I shall be starting to fly to the West Coast, so we decided that this would be an easier place to have a party and celebrate with a few friends.

My brother, who is grand at arranging parties, obtained the most wonderful music from New York City. It was played on an instrument I had never heard before, which is like an electric piano but has stops to make it sound like a whole orchestra. We were all thrilled and everyone asked for the things they liked best. The very versatile musician seemed able to play everything asked for, from Mozart to Chopin to Wagner to Debussy and Ravel.

My brother had made a comic phonograph record which gently teased me in song and rhyme. It started the party off in great style. I think it is a good idea to celebrate at parties which are actually not on your birthday. Then you do not have to think gloomily that another year has gone by in which, on looking back candidly, you count so little accomplishment for time sped away.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of people, some Quakers, both middle-aged and young men, spent a couple of hours with me explaining the point of view of the various conscientious objectors. They were anxious to make me realize that theirs was a genuine conviction, that they could not take human lives and some of them even felt they could not engage in any activity sponsored by a government which they felt was tending toward war.

None of these men, young or old, had to convince me of their sincerity. I can well understand that to live up to these convictions will perhaps take more courage than to risk their lives in the army. Yet, I can also see the point of view of other people whose boys are in the army or who are in the army themselves if a war should ever come, particularly of a defensive nature.

The test of democracy and civilization is to treat with fairness the individual’s right to self-expression, even when you can neither understand nor approve it. I hope we are going to show now, when we simply are asking young men to train for useful purposes in peacetime or in any emergency, that we can respect individuals who differ from the majority and find useful work which they are willing and able to do under the restrictions imposed upon them by their conscience.

October 9, 1940

Hyde Park, Tuesday –
I left Hyde Park with my husband yesterday at noon for Watervliet, New York. He inspected the old arsenal which I passed so many times when we lived in Albany, but never before dared to enter. It always seemed to me a quiet place in those days, but yesterday it was certainly a busy spot, running three shifts and employing some 2,700 men and constantly increasing in production.

From there, we went to the Saratoga Battlefield. The whole staff working with Mr. Al Kress was on hand and we drove to the three sites being considered for the administration building. Governor Lehman was with us during the entire trip and he seemed to share the President’s interest in maps of all kinds.

They sat in the car at the top of the hill. The entire staff working on the development of Saratoga Battlefield Park was with them and discussed all that was someday to be done in the fields around to make this battlefield of historic interest to the public.

From there, we went to the Saratoga Baths with General Hines of the Veterans Administration. He is interested in new facilities for cardiac patients and hopes to be able to use the wonderful development at Saratoga Springs during the months when it is scarcely used at all.

On the drive through Troy and Cohoes and several smaller towns, my husband had the opportunity of seeing some of his old friends.

Having Governor Lehman with us made the official part of the trip very pleasant. Since the Governor was attending a Parent-Teachers dinner, we parted at Loudonville and went to Mr. Earl Miller’s house there for a purely social two hours. The President had not seen his house before and was interested in a glimpse of the inside, but he will have to go back again to see the outside, for it was dark when we reached it.

A few friends, who had been asked to meet the President, had been waiting for some time. I think they were forgiving and understood that on trips of this kind there are always more things to see than are anticipated. My husband left Albany for Washington about 9:00 and Miss Thompson and I returned to Hyde Park.

On the train, I was interested in reading an article by Morris Markey in October McCall’s Magazine. It is called “Let Freedom Ring.” I am entirely in agreement with his idea that the way for us to help Europe is to help Europe’s children and perhaps he is right that, in the future, it would be well for many of us to adopt, instead of taking in temporarily, these children from European countries.

However, I would qualify his plan a little and say that we must make the effort to take in children who have lost their parents and who, therefore, do not have to be torn away from them when we take them into our homes and offer to make them future American citizens.

We are off this morning for New York City.

October 10, 1940

New York, Wednesday –
An imposing number of gentlemen met me at my apartment soon after we reached New York City yesterday morning. I hope they are going to accomplish something which will be of real assistance to the various semi-rural sections of the country. The people in these sections, while they can raise a certain amount of food for themselves, need other occupations to bring their incomes up to a decent level of existence.

I started late for a luncheon appointment uptown and encountered such a traffic block on 5th Avenue that I finally stepped out of the taxi and walked a little way, and took a taxi again where I thought the way looked clear. The driver told me with some amusement that it was Mr. Willkie’s parade blocking the street. By that time I was so late that I hardly listened to what he had to say. Seeing that I was really concerned about the time, he thought up the quickest possible way to reach my destination and took me down the ramp to 45th Street and thus finally to my restaurant.

After lunch I saw Miss Rosamond Chapin, who told me a most interesting story of her efforts to have opera produced in this country in the English language. This seems to me a sensible idea, for if the same operas are produced in German, French and Italian; I cannot see why, if the translation is good, we should not have opera in English and bring it within the range of understanding and appreciation of a good many more people. You cannot imagine a German audience without opera in German. That is one reason why they enjoy it so much, because it is part of their daily lives.

I carried home Miss Chapin’s translation of The Magic Flute to read. I feel sure that there must be people in this country interested in her idea to promote American artists here, since they can no longer go abroad to gain their reputations and must, therefore, be recognized as artists by us.

I saw a good many people in Democratic headquarters and then went to see Miss Minna Citron’s murals, which are being exhibited in the Art League Building. They will be placed in the post office in Newport, Tenn., and I think will be a notable addition.

By this time in the afternoon, I had more or less caught up with myself, and I arrived on time at the tea given by the Business and Professional Women. After spending an hour with them, I returned home to dress and dine and go with Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr., and Miss Thompson to see Mr. Maxwell Anderson’s new play Journey To Jerusalem. The settings for this play are very beautiful and I particularly enjoyed the first act. The whole play seems to me interesting and well worth seeing.

The busy round is going on today, and this afternoon we go back to Hyde Park.

October 11, 1940

Hyde Park, Thursday –
Yesterday morning, I attended a meeting of the United States Committee for the Care of European Children. Since there are about a thousand children in this country, it will be necessary to retain a skeleton organization to keep in touch with them, and a certain amount of money will still have to be raised for this purpose.

Though no more children are to be sent over at present by Great Britain, there is a possibility that in one way or another during the next few months, that children from other countries may land on these shores. If they need care, the committee must be prepared to look after them. I feel that we must be able to expand later on if the call should come to care for children from other countries. This care must cover short periods of time, or in the case of orphan children, who come in under the quota, we may have to find permanent homes to provide care during the years of their minority.

I had a delightful lunch yesterday as the guest of Mr. Morris Ernst. Then I talked a few minutes with Mr. Daniel Tobin and some of the people working with him in the labor division of the Democratic National Committee Campaign Headquarters.

By 2:45, Miss Thompson and I started to drive back to the country. The colors are changing and are not quite as brilliant, but in some places a whole hillside seems to be even more beautiful with pastel shades predominating.

Back at the cottage, a cheery fire was burning in my sitting room and the tea table was standing in front of it. A little after 5:00, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Lent and their small boy, Jimmy, came to see me. Young Jimmy Lent is four years old and the first thing he asked on entering the house was:

Where is the radio?

He spent his time exploring every room and making friends with my maids, but was distressed to find that we had no small boy to play with him.

Mrs. George Huntington came to dinner and Mr. Alan Lomax came up from New York City bringing his guitar. We spent a delightful evening listening to folk songs of various kinds and talking over the questions which concern us all so deeply. Mr. Lomax is anxious that the storehouse of American culture, which he has helped to build up in the Congressional Library, should be of some value to the youth of the nation during its year of compulsory service. I hope Mr. Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress, will find some way to make the life of America, as recorded in our folk songs, a part of the knowledge of all young Americans, for this year of service should be more than a period of military training.

This morning, I was up at 6:00 to start on a flying trip throughout New York State to visit NYA projects.

October 12, 1940

Hyde Park, Friday –
Autumn colors seen from a plane are quite extraordinary. It is like seeing a brilliant and beautiful old Aubusson rug spread out beneath you. Yesterday, during part of our trip to Syracuse, the land was obliterated by ground fog, so we drifted a little to the west. However, we arrived on time and I was glad to see some old friends on the dock to greet me.

We drove first to an NYA pottery making project, where the young people are really learning pottery in a way which will make them valuable to the commercial pottery companies in the neighborhood. These companies have been most cooperative in helping the NYA to set up this project, which produces plates, cups, saucers, tea sets and pitchers to be used in resident projects throughout the country.

From there, we motored to the Onondaga Reservation, where the young people have built a community house which will contain a library, recreation room and craft room for girls. There is also a kitchen where the girls may take courses in home management. An old Indian chief greeted me here and presented me with a lovely Indian basket and leather pouch. Most interesting is the close cooperation achieved here between the unions and NYA. They have provided the skilled labor and have undertaken to evaluate the work of the NYA boys, and later will guide them in the work they are capable of undertaking in the future.

I was also very pleased to see, before I left, my old friend, Mr. Leo Casey, who drove down to the yacht landing for a few minutes chat.

Our next stop was in Cooperstown, NY, and I am most enthusiastic about the NYA rural center at Hartwick Seminary. I have never seen boys and girls more enthusiastic about their work, and I think the young man in charge deserves great credit for the spirit of those working with him. They are acquiring pride in what they do, and an understanding of the dignity of labor.

From there, we went to Utica, where a small resident project is operating in a really delightful house. The boys run it themselves, as they do all resident projects. Their work is in connection with aviation and will shortly expand so more boys can be accommodated in this center.

We were back in Hyde Park before dark. I had a happy feeling of having seen young America in the process of training for greater usefulness, in a life which may be difficult, but which is still full of hope.

I spent a quiet evening with the usual quota of mail waiting to be done. Today is glorious and I had a ride. Now I am starting to motor over to lunch with Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr. in Fishkill.

October 14, 1940

Beverly Hills, Calif., Sunday –
I forgot to mention on Friday that, on October 11, the 1,200 YMCA’s throughout the United States celebrated Founder’s Day. They will go on observing Founder’s Week until the 13th. I imagine, in many places, certain observances will be continued even beyond that date.

I hope that everywhere the people of the communities will renew their interest in the work which the YMCA does for the young men in the neighborhood. The “Y” building has furnished to many a boy his only place of recreation, as well as the only quiet spot where he can read with any comfort or talk with his friends.

The services rendered, however, could be made infinitely more valuable if, in every community, more people would familiarize themselves with the needs of the boys in the communities, see that the “Y” was physically able to meet them, and help the secretaries in charge to plan a program of activities so as to make it worthwhile. There never was a time when this service to youth was more needed than it is today, and we cannot afford to neglect it.

The weather was so lovely Friday, I could not bear to stay indoors, so Miss Thompson and I took a long drive in the afternoon. Early Saturday morning, we left Hyde Park with some sense of excitement, for Miss Thompson was returning to Washington for a week, and I was taking off in the afternoon by plane for Los Angeles to be gone for a week. The day in New York City was filled, as usual, but this time with purely personal occupations. Some fittings of winter clothes, the buying of a hat and the inevitable visit to the hairdresser before a trip. Free time is somewhat uncertain on these flying trips, so I always feel the necessary things should be done before I start.

I left at 5:10 from LaGuardia Field and enjoyed flying westward. I never have become enamored of sleeper planes, though I like flying at night very much. However, I recognize that it is comfortable to lie down even if it is inconvenient to undress and dress on a plane. One great blessing is that when you are once in bed, you cannot be called out by newspaper photographers at the various stops, and so I am often not conscious when we land and take off again.

I love coming into Los Angeles early in the morning and late at night. It is exciting to anticipate meeting one of the children, even though I may wonder how glad he is to meet me at a very early hour, for I arrived at Los Angeles soon after 7:00 and it takes about an hour to drive to the airport.

October 15, 1940

Los Angeles, Monday –
I pulled my curtains back early yesterday morning as we were leaving Tucson, and soon afterwards the stars began to fade and the sky turned a delicate pink. Even in the west, the reflection of the sun was seen as it came over the horizon.

I wish it were easier to talk to one’s neighbors on a plane, but I find it a little difficult, unless they are sitting in the seat with me. I enjoyed talking to the gentleman who shared my compartment. I also liked chatting for a few minutes with Miss Rosemary Lane, who was across the aisle. She has a nice friendly quality, so that when we landed in Los Angeles I really felt I had made not simply an acquaintance, but a friend.

Yesterday was, I think, the most completely lazy day I have spent for a long time. James and I had breakfast in the most leisurely fashion, and then we sat on the roof in the sun until we had lunch. In the afternoon we drove to Arrowhead Lake, which is some 5,000 feet up in the mountains. The pines grow tall and straight around the blue lake and the view of the plains and mountains as you drive up is very impressive.

It was the drive down, however, at sunset time, looking straight toward the west, which was almost breathtaking in its beauty. I do not think the brown hills of California are in themselves very beautiful, but when they are colored by the sunset and turned to a sort of purple and pink, you lose all sense of arid wastelands and think only of the space and color spread out before you. There is space in this land out here – so much space that you wonder whether man’s ingenuity will have to be exercised to bring it all under cultivation to make it serve his will for food and sustenance. At present, there is waste everywhere, but then, we can still afford to be wasteful.

We dined at the Arrowhead Springs Hotel, after a look at a most unique swimming pool, which was very inviting if only we had had time to go swimming. I was very much interested in the hotel, for they tell me it was decorated by my friend, Mrs. Dorothy Draper. She has done some bold and almost startling things.

I’m sure she received her inspiration for the doors from some of the old-fashioned iron safes, which I can remember seeing when I was a child. The predominant color is an emerald green, which reappears in many shades and forms in many rooms. While I feel that her work here is somewhat in the nature of a little boy who is showing off and says:

See what I can do.

…in a spirit of bravado; still it is most attractive. The dining room, cocktail room, and card rooms are all charming and restful. The porch, with its light green benches and chairs is inviting.

October 16, 1940

San Francisco, Tuesday –
Yesterday, after writing my column in my son’s office, I went back to his apartment to see a friend and have lunch. Early in the afternoon, Mrs. Melvyn Douglas took me out to attend a tea given by a large group of Democratic women. Later, my son called for me and we went together to see his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Benjamin.

It was James’ night for drilling with his battalion of Marines, so I went and watched him from the gallery. I can’t say that anything military has ever given me much pleasure, for I still hope that someday we will reach a state of civilization where we can find, as William James suggested so long ago, the “moral equivalent of war.”

Since that time has not yet arrived, however, it seems to me that all of us must prefer to see the young people we care about receive the training which cannot fail to be of use to them in everyday life because of the value of discipline. In one way or another we must all be disciplined sometime, and it helps us in every occupation.

The training of our men is of value to the nation, for a trained man in case of war or any emergency, can render better service and protection to himself than if he were an inexperienced recruit. Two of the boys, James and Franklin Jr., took courses in college and have had periods of training during the years since then. Since they are in the Reserves, they only know that when they are called, their service lasts for the duration of the emergency. It does make for a slight uncertainty as to the arrangements to be made in business and the normal activities of life, for the emergency may last for a few months, or it may last a few years.

I think, perhaps, a great many of the people who have been executives, are going to meet the greatest test of their ability as such. Now they must choose the right people to leave in charge and so organize that they, themselves, will be as little missed as possible. Not easy to do, but it can be done.

We were up early this morning, for I had to take the plane at 7:00. I hope to have a glimpse of my friend Mrs. Edward McCauley of San Francisco, at the airport there and to file this column, since it might be too late at the next stop. In the early afternoon, I hope to arrive in Portland, Oregon, to spend a few hours with my friend, Mrs. Nan Wood Honeyman, who is running again this year for Congress. In the evening, I speak for the League of Women Voters and go on by plane to Seattle, if the weather continues to be kind.

October 17, 1940

Seattle, Wednesday –
When I arrived here last evening, I was practically asleep; even though I seemed to be walking and, I hope, was still talking coherently. Yesterday, I filed my column some 30 miles from San Francisco, because the fog closed in on San Francisco and Oakland, and made our plane land behind the Coast Range of mountains and wait there for passengers going up the coast.

We spent about an hour and a half walking in the warm sunshine and sitting on the steps of the airport building. I enjoyed talking to two fellow passengers. One woman had a husband in Hawaii on a submarine. She was bringing up the boys at home, but her journey was a sudden and anxious one, because of her father’s illness in a hospital near Portland, Oregon.

The other woman, Mrs. Davis, the wife of a rancher in Yakima Valley, told me an interesting story. She and her husband are alone at home since their children have grown up. They have taken on the responsibility of raising two youngsters whose family they came to know through an older brother who picked fruit on their farm. The younger brother appeared at the age of twelve as a passenger in the car in which the older brother and his family travelled, somewhat after the fashion of the people in Grapes Of Wrath. The boy stayed at the ranch.

Two years later, a younger sister appeared. Now these two youngsters have a home and are going to school. The ranch, in spite of the difficulties of the past few years, is providing a living for all concerned. I liked this motherly, capable, understanding woman, and I think these two youngsters are very fortunate. They will make a real contribution as citizens to this country in return for the thought and care which is being lavished upon them.

Mrs. Davis has an attitude toward children that I particularly admire. In answer to a remark of mine that the youngsters must want to do something for her, she said:

I wouldn’t expect them to do anything for us, any more than I would expect it from our own children. We work and they work for our home, but when they go out on their own, their lives are their own, without any demands on our part upon them.

A fine attitude and one many of us might emulate.

I was an hour an half late getting into Portland, and Mrs. Honeyman was awaiting me. Before we left the airport, I went over to speak to a man who has spent long months in the hospital. He had hired an ambulance to bring him down to the airport because he wished to have a chance to talk with me.

Then we went to Democratic headquarters for a reception at which several thousand people must have passed in line. After a quiet dinner, I spoke at a membership meeting of the League of Women Voters. At 10:50, I took a plane for Seattle and, at 11:49, arrived there. Because my day started at 5:30 a.m., it wasn’t very odd that I was a bit sleepy.

I begin to feel really at home in Seattle. Of course, it is always a joy to be back with the family here. How the children have grown! Even the older ones have changed in six months. The baby is hardly to be recognized, for his head is a mass of curls and he is a really sturdy young man, dressed like a real boy.

October 18, 1940

Seattle, Thursday –
Yesterday was another one of those days in which only the absolutely necessary time was given to work of any kind. I always find that when Anna and John and I do not meet for six months, there seems to be an endless flow of conversation that can fill up long hours of time. Visits are never long enough. But perhaps this is a good idea, it certainly is better than having them seem too long.

We had our luncheon out on the terrace with the children, who came home from school with just enough time to eat and rush back again. When they came home in the afternoon, they insisted that we all go out for a ride in the new boat. Curtis proved his efficiency as a sailor by helping to cast off and tie up and by doing much of the steering. I could not help thinking how pleased and interested his grandfather would be to find him developing this ability with boats.

Curtis even told me much about the shoreline and weather conditions. I am sure that charts will soon be as engrossing to him as they are to my husband. Even Johnnie, at a year and half, has learned to stand up in the cockpit quite steadily, so that he has almost a sailor’s roll in his walk.

On our return, Curtis showed me the gardens. This new home is certainly a grand place for the children because the land about it gives them an opportunity to grow vegetables and flowers and to play games of various kinds quite safe from the passing traffic. In the evening, they showed me the movies of Johnnie’s first attempts at walking. There is no doubt about it, every family should have a movie camera to record passing events and stages of development. These films provide entertainment and an interesting record for the future.

I find considerable interest in the West on the part of various groups of women, who are already forming organizations on a purely voluntary basis to serve in home defense.

I think those groups will also increase the knowledge of community conditions and help to coordinate all the service agencies to meet community needs. The number of women cooperating in work for the community will be so much increased that more and better work can be done in many ways. Tacoma, Washington, has a plan under the local government which includes both men and women. Perhaps, someday the National Government will have time to think of using the total man and woman power of the nation on a much wider scale than can be covered by any military organization.

I am interested to find that here on the Coast, as well as in the East, there is considerable interest in the radio concerts given by young NYA orchestras. Mr. James Petrillo and the American Federation of Music are cooperating with NYA in these radio concerts. I think there is a general realization on the part of the public that valuable work is being done in giving young artists an opportunity to be heard. If they once become established as professional musicians, they will, of course, add strength to the Federation.

I am spending the morning today catching up with the never-ending flow of mail. This afternoon we are going down to a reception for Democratic officials, candidates and party workers.

October 19, 1940

Seattle, Friday –
It was cloudy yesterday morning and we had a slight rain in the afternoon. Today the clouds are high and breaking up so I feel sure that I shall be able to start on my flight to Chicago this evening.

Most of the day yesterday was spent at home for both my daughter and I had work to do. She wrote her colum and I caught up on longhand letters, which are always one of the difficulties of my existence. I just do not get around to writing them. They languish in a compartment in my briefcase until I know all my friends and relations think I have given myself over entirely to the typewriter and never put pen to paper anymore.

In the afternoon, we attended a Democratic gathering and visited a friend of Anna’s, Mrs. Stanley Donogh, in the hospital, for a few minutes. She has had an attack of pleurisy and I can sympathize with her, for many years ago I had a very slight attack of this unpleasant ailment and found that it took many weeks before I really felt completely strong.

This is a curious campaign. It seems to engender a personal bitterness in many people, which hardly seems to me necessary for the wise consideration of such issues as are before the American people. For instance, this morning one letter came to me accusing me for a variety of reasons covering the last seven or eight years of being responsible for eggs which have been thrown at Mr. Willkie.

I take this opportunity of reiterating what has already been said by the President and many other people: I never have approved of egg-throwing nor of any kind of physical demonstration of disapproval in a campaign. It seems to me that the orderly working of the democratic process is injured when people resort to that kind of force.

October 21, 1940

Hyde Park, Sunday –
My trip home was uneventful. I was glad to be able to fly from Chicago to St. Louis for a few hours yesterday in order to see my young friend, Mayris Chaney, who is dancing there just now, and still get into New York from Chicago in the evening. I motored up to Hyde Park this morning in order to have the pleasure of meeting the Governor-General of Canada and his wife, who are spending the weekend with the President and his mother.

Miss Thompson met me in New York and told me that too many birthday cards had come on October 11 for personal acknowledgment to be possible, and so I am taking this opportunity to thank the many kind people who sent me good wishes on the occasion of my birthday. It is very thoughtful of people to wish me well and I deeply appreciate it, particularly at a time when kindly words are not as often expressed as those engendered by personal bitterness.

There are two books I read on this trip across the Continent that I would like to call to your attention. One of them, called Guilty Men, is written by a young Englishman whose nom de plume is “Cato.” The book has an American introduction which points out why we should have a special interest in it.

As brought out in this book, the important point, to me, about the chronology of the years from 1920 to 1940 is that when individuals and nations begin to fool themselves, they are building up a dangerous future. You can fool yourself with high ideals and wishful thinking and refuse to face reality and the hard facts of the world in which you live. So many leaders of different groups in these past years have done this in one way or another. Good intentions seem to have paved the way to one tragic situation after another. It is trite to say it, but the courage to face the real facts, and act upon those facts, is the thing we need most today. We must pray that here, in the United States we will learn the lesson of the last twenty years of history and profit by it by facing situations that arise from now on.

The second book is Hendrik van Loon’s Invasion. He sent it to me himself, and suggested that I do not read it at night for fear of being kept awake. I did not feel that way about it. It is fanciful, but no more fanciful than actual occurrences have been in many parts of the world. His estimate of what the people of Vermont would do under certain conditions is most encouraging, because Vermont is no different from the State of Washington, or, for that matter, any state in the Union faced with the same situation.

That does not make the book any less important. The lesson it teaches is that it is not safe to believe, because your immediate surroundings look peaceful, placid and very familiar, that nothing unusual can possibly happen. In addition, it shows that time to prepare for any eventuality is vitally important. We must be willing to consider even the things that seem incredible if we are going to have time to meet successfully an unknown situation.

October 22, 1940

Washington, Monday –
It is always exciting to come home from a trip when you have visited your family, because there are so many foolish little things you have to tell. It may seem trivial when the world is in a turmoil, to tell the President of the United States that Anna’s baby, Johnnie, has curls that should belong to a girl and that I deeply resent their not being on somebody’s head who could enjoy them the rest of her life! Of course, they will have to be cut off and he will spend hours trying to slick his hair straight when he grows older. Nevertheless, the President is interested and I really think it is good for him, for the little things of life are important and one tends to forget them in the stress of great events.

My mother-in-law wanted to hear every detail about the children and announced that she must get on a plane and go to Seattle at once to see Johnnie before his curls are cut off!

The drive up the river yesterday morning was pleasant because the air was delightfully snappy. But as far as having a chance to look at the scenery, that was out of the question. Miss Thompson decided I had to work and when she makes that decision my nose is kept to the grindstone, so I read letters the whole way to Hyde Park.

Lunch at the Big House with my mother-in-law and her guests was delightful. The Governor-General and his wife, Princess Alice, and their daughter, Lady May Abel Smith, were all very friendly and attractive. I was sorry to leave in the afternoon in order to catch up with my work and be free today to keep my various engagements. We meant to come down to Washington by train, but I forgot that even on a coldish, autumn Sunday, traffic going to New York City would be very heavy, so we missed the train and took a plane instead.

A very nice young man, who sat across the aisle from us, said he was coming down to start in on a job here today. He was reading Romain Rolland and, after a while, said that he thought he would finish his volume someday, but it didn’t look to him as though our mail would ever be done.

If the serious things of the world depress you too much, I recommend that you go out and buy a book called My Mother Is A Violent Woman by Tommy Wadelton. The gentleman may not be as young as his name or his style indicates, but he certainly has the gift of making a family group seem alive. He describes his character in a delightful way, always with the humorous side to the fore. I feel as though I knew “the violent woman” and, knowing her, no one could help liking her.

October 23, 1940

New York, Tuesday –
Miss Thompson and I went to lunch yesterday with a group of newspaper women to celebrate the publication of Ruby Black’s book, Eleanor Roosevelt: A Biography. I read it through the night before and even I found it interesting, perhaps because after the first part – which of course, I recognize – I began to feel I was being introduced to someone I really did not know. The Eleanor Roosevelt whom I thought I knew; to me never seems to have any of the attributes that so many kind people must have told Miss Black she has. I hope their estimate is correct, for in this biography, she sounds essentially like a nice person, though at times I think she is very trying.

In the late afternoon a number of young people came in for tea. One young Boy Scout leader has been in charge of some Scout camps in Washington. He said that for short periods of time he tried to be both father and mother to 300 boys at a time, and he found it very stimulating. He made an observation many off us, as fathers and mothers, should note – the best discipline from his point of view is administered by the boys themselves to each other and not by their elders.

The President was busy on his speech for tomorrow night, both in the late afternoon and all evening. Someone suggested at dinner that he might do something which had been asked of him and I was amused at the firmness with which he answered:

I have a government to run and you people seem to think I have nothing to do.

I cannot help feeling grateful that I have never had to make speeches with the sense of responsibility which weighs on conscientious officials when they go out to talk to the people who have elected them. Yet I think it is a very good thing that this responsibility exists in public officials, for people who have only the responsibility of private citizens can allow themselves to say things which have no foundation in fact and to believe things which they do not bother to verify. That does make articles and speeches much easier to turn out, and besides, it is so much more entertaining!

We flew up to New York City this morning and had a very smooth trip. I have been trying to catch up and am still not caught up on some of the work which accumulated during the week in which I was away. Now I must go to lunch before attending the first session of the Herald Tribune Forum. We are all particularly happy this year that Mrs. William Brown Meloney, who has always been the real inspiration for this Forum, is well enough to be on the platform.