My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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Someone sent me a most amusing present. It came into my room this afternoon and as I looked at it I thought I was being visited by the Zoo, for it was surrounded by four miniature polar bears. On closer inspection, however, I found that the polar bears were guarding a gold-fish bowl, with three lovely lillies growing out of the center and a red rose floating on the surface, and the gold-fish swimming around.

The donor certainly had a sense of humor, for to me and to various and sundry others, a gold-fish bowl is certainly suggestive. I doubt if any one living in the White House needs such a constant reminder, for whether they write themselves or whether they just trust to those who write about them, no gold-fish could have less privacy from the point of view of the daily happenings of their existence.

There is, however, one consolation to any one who lives in the public eye, namely, that while it may be most difficult to keep the world from knowing where you dine and what you eat and what you wear, so much interest is focused on these somewhat unimportant things, that you are really left completely free to live your own inner life as you wish. And, thank God, few people are so poor that they do not have an inner life which feeds the real springs of thought and action. So if I may offer a thought in consolation to others who for a time have to live in a "gold-fish bowl," it is: "Don't worry because people know all that you do, for the really important things about anyone is what they are and what they think and feel and the more you live in a "gold-fish" bowl, the less people really know about you!"

TMsd 6 January 1936, AERP, FDRL