My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK , Friday—What a warm feeling it gives you if a really friendly person says good morning to you! As I hurried along the street yesterday, a rather shabbily dressed man said: "Oh, Mrs. Roosevelt, I am so glad to see you. My wife will be so pleased if you will just sign this card, so she'll know I saw you."

I don't usually stop and do anything of this kind, but the voice and the smile were so evidently friendly I couldn't refuse. If it made any difference to his wife, I am glad, for it certainly left me a very pleasant feeling.

Yesterday I lunched with a friend high up in the Empire State Building. We sat at a window looking out over the city, which always takes my breath away when I stop to realize what a beehive of human beings it is. It is a horrible thought, but I wonder what it would be like with planes flying over it dropping bombs, or with an earthquake rocking those enormous skyscrapers and fire raging among the debris.

That, of course, is just the image of disaster. But if you stop to think, there are contrasts all about you, sorrow and happiness go on side by side while we remain entirely self-centered. Sometimes only a wall intervenes between us and tragedy or ecstasy. Sometimes it seems a very unnatural way to live. Perhaps that is because I grew up in a time when houses were of more reasonable size and it wasn't so hard to know your neighbors.

I spent a little while with Miss Cook in her office yesterday and then went back to our little apartment and had a young couple in to tea. They have just been married and both are working. They have wisely decided to live on one salary and bank the other one until they have enough money to buy their furniture and start out free of debt.

The courage of young America is no less today than in pioneer days. They take out insurance now, but never enough to do more than bridge a gap if anything happens to either father or mother. Back of these children lies the knowledge of what a childhood of hardship means, and yet they don't fear the future for themselves or for their children.

The eternal hope in human beings is rather magnificent. Are we more fearful when we have more? When I listen to the conversations of some of the people I meet at dinner, who wonder what will happen to their children in this country, I wonder why they face life with so much less sense of security and self-reliance for themselves and their progeny than do people like this young couple. The children who have been brought up in comfort, who have had every educational advantage, and who are strong and healthy, should give their parents less anxiety it seems to me.

This morning looks clearer and I am on my way to the country. I only hope the cold weather has not hurt the trees and buds so much that spring will be long in coming. I would like to have one of those April weekends when you think summer has arrived and feel impelled to eat all your meals out of doors. There is no harm in wishing, so I shall wish and be content with whatever I receive.


(Copyright, 1938, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day. by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 9, 1938

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.