Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt. . .a Blogger before Blogging?

We have been visiting the presidential libraries and museums and, so far have managed to do all but Eisenhower, Ford and, of course, since I’m a Californian, Nixon and Reagan’s.   (George Bush’s is still in the planning stages, I believe.)

Some are more interesting and personal than others but last week I really enjoyed the home tour and visit of Franklin D. Roosevelt homePresidential Library and Museum in the quaint little village of Hyde Park, New York.  I was struck by the level of Eleanor Roosevelt’s importance and influence in her husband’s career, especially after he was struck by polio at the age of thirty-nine.   She served as his eyes and ears while traveling to places he wasn’t able to go.  She not only has a wing in the Museum/Library dedicated to her but she is the only First Lady who has been honored with having a National Historic Site dedicated to her!   Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site  is the location of Vall-Kill, her retreat and later home from 1945 until her death in 1962. 


As I browsed her wing in the presidential library I noted that among her many works was a syndicated column she wrote six days a week from 1935 to 1962.  Reading a snippet I noticed that it was quite short and written in a chatty personal manner.  “Hey, that sounds much like the blogs of today!”  Later on-line I found that the columns have been preserved and found subjects as Housewives, the Peace Corp, White House weddings during WWII, various causes she supports and her life and travels.  The same type things we all blog about although we don’t generally throw names like  “the new king of Saudi Arabia (1954)” and Fidel Castro into our blogs.  I liked My Day February 14, 1954 where she mentions attending an executive committee meeting of the United Nations and then later shares the Girl Scouts recipe for s’mores!


This is her May 3, 1943 column: (just happens to be my birthday)

WASHINGTON, Sunday—I have just read a book by Ethel Gorham: "So Your Husband's Gone to War!" It is entertaining and full of good common sense advice. I think pages 122 and 123 should be read and reread by every woman. It is a universal experience and sometimes it isn't only what happens in marriage.

Sisters and brothers, mothers and sons, girls and their sweethearts have sometimes found that furloughs were not all that they had planned. The men they were with were not the men who went away. Somehow, they were entirely different—moody, perhaps too gay, quite evidently covering something by the gaiety, anxious to forget instead of telling all the experiences which they want so much to hear.

This is just a sample of many other things which you will find useful in this little book and which, on the whole, is quite delightful to read. I loved the little bit about the woman who tried to give up her home and send her child away and found that it created for her husband, off at the war, only a sense of terrible insecurity, because he felt he had no real home which he remembered anywhere in the background to which he could cling, and for which he was actually fighting.

Many a husband would not have been honest enough to stop his wife in time. He might have thought he owed it to the woman to let her do the thing she thought wisest. Yet, as a matter of fact, all she needed to make the effort to go on living as usual, was the knowledge that the home he knew meant security to the man somewhere for beyond her ken.

What it must mean to those men so far away to be able to turn their thoughts for a minute to something they feel is fixed and stable in their world of home, something they love, something that is their real life, not this interim which, somehow or other, they must fight through.

And now, to something in lighter vein. Franklin P. Adams has just gotten out an anthology of light verse. It is called "Innocent Merriment," and while I know these poems are his favorites, I am sure you will find plenty of your own there, too. Who does not like Christopher Morley': "The Gospel of Mr. Pepys," ending:

"When kisses are a shilling each
We should adventure on a few."

No one could grow up without, somewhere along the road, having enjoyed Lewis Caroll's "Father William." So, when you want a pleasant hour, pick up "Innocent Merriment."



Reads like a modern blog doesn’t it?  If you could like to read more: “My Day”

Eleanor Roosevelt’s serene and peaceful Val-Kill.



  1. I have her quote on my desk - "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." She is a blogger for sure!

  2. Enjoyed visiting you. I've read several of your previous posts, too & enjoy your writing style. I don't get to travel nearly as much as you - but find your explanations and photos SO interesting.

    Since learning is one of my reasons for being in the blogging community, I will be visiting you frequently!

    Van-Kill appears just as you describe it--Peaceful and Serene. I think I'll spend a bit of time at "My Day" today while my husband works to repair our son's van. (Later we'll travel to Monticello IL to return it to him and retrieve our car.)