My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Sunday—I don't think I have ever told you anything about the procedure which takes place before the President makes one of his radio addresses. There is always a certain amount of tension in the house before an important speech. Last Thursday a message had to go to Congress and the radio speech had to be ready for the evening, so there was considerable work during the previous days for everybody connected with the President.

However, when the time actually came, the President was as calm as a May morning. It was the kind of calm which comes when one has done the best one can and decides there is nothing left but to take life calmly.

The household went down in the elevator to the Diplomatic Reception Room. The President took his seat behind the desk which is specially wired. The radio controls are across the room and the news-reel cameras are all set up with their operators standing by. The still camera men all crowd around the President immediately and get through with their pictures at once. We found a number of people who had come to listen already seated in the room. I was agreeably surprised that we had chairs, for whenever the speech is short we all stand up.

I sat beside Miss Perkins and had an opportunity for a nice little talk. Then, suddenly, the still cameras were gone. Jimmy and Steve Early, sitting nearest the President's desk, gave us a look which told us everything was in readiness. The radio announcers took their places behind curtains at two different doors. Then Jimmy poured out a glass of water for his father and went back to his seat. A hand was dropped and the President began speaking.

The only unexpected event was the sudden ringing of a telephone on the window ledge behind the President's desk. Jimmy sprang toward it and took the receiver off the hook, but it still made a dull noise. I couldn't imagine how it rang, for the switchboard operators know when a speech is going on. However, in today's paper, I read that this telephone was on an outside wire used by the White House Police.

We all listened to the end and then, while the newsreels took their pictures, we talked and were quiet alternately as they directed. Finally, we went upstairs to the President's study and, all of a sudden, the tenseness was gone!

In spite of gray skies, I had a delightful ride Saturday morning. I spent the afternoon receiving groups of people and ended up with a hurried visit to Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia. It is open to the public today and is a most interesting place.

Mrs. Scheider and I, with two friends, followed our usual Easter Morning ritual, and went to the Knights Templar service at the Arlington National Cemetery. It was a very fitting way to start the day. Dean Powell of the National Cathedral preached the sermon. He emphasized the thought that the story of the Resurrection meant the seeking of Jesus and that He was not to be found in death, but in life where people experience all of life's joys and sorrows.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Washington (D.C., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day. by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 18, 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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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.