My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—We spent a few peaceful hours on the train yesterday afternoon, having dinner in our stateroom. After I went to bed I lay for a long while thinking over the part of my trip which was coming to an end with my arrival in New York. The particular thing that I found myself dwelling on was the age-old question, what makes a successful hostess? I remember a woman I knew when I was very young who had palatial mansions dotted throughout the world, but if you dined with her, you were conscious of the fact that her mind was on the various men who stood about in knee breeches and silk stockings, to wait upon her guests. You never felt that she heard anything you said and it didn't matter very much whether you stayed with her in the country or in the city, you were never at home! From long experience I have decided that the perfect hostess is one who is so sure of her household that she knows they will do whatever they can to make her guests comfortable. If accidents occur, she is not upset for she knows that similar things happen in everybody's house, and that her guests will be far more uncomfortable if she herself is uncomfortable. If she makes you feel that what you think and say is really important to her, and perhaps that you are a rather unique and brilliant person, then you will leave her house not only feeling that you have enjoyed yourself, but with a glowing feeling that you have given her pleasure. If you are staying any length of time, it is very nice to feel that you do not in any way disturb the family life—you may join in it if you wish, or you may have as much privacy as you wish. Too much arrangement is bad! In short being a good hostess is an art but an art which is built on tact and consideration for others, joined with the kind of efficiency which makes the wheels go round without too much obvious oiling.

Judging by my own experience, most of my friends accomplish this difficult feat with remarkable success.

Back in New York and lunch with my children. Now some repacking for another busy week!

TMsd 18 June 1936, AERP, FDRL