The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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SEATTLE, Tuesday—This routine of grandchildren at home, the hospital, mother and baby, does not provide any very new or interesting subjects to write about. Particularly when everything goes as well as it is going in this particular family at present.

However, it is amusing as a grandmother, to find oneself going back to the problems of young and growing children again. I wonder if there ever was a family where some child didn't dawdle over his food until all the grownups decided that it would really be good for him or her to starve. Also, the question of the need for manners comes up today just as it used to do. Someone remarked to me this morning that, when they were young, they were taught never to be rude to an older person and, therefore, they found it difficult to understand the manners of today.

I can remember my own very self-concious curtsies to older visitors and my irritation at having to sit politely and listen to converstaions which meant nothing to me, and that my grandmother felt that my generation had lost all the niceties of good manners. The root of good manners is really kindness of feeling. I often think we don't explain to children when they are young enough, that they receive what they give in this world. That rudness to anyone, or lack of thought for other people's feelings, is apt to bring an unhappy and antagonistic atmosphere into any relationship.

If our lives can be said to be calm and uneventful, the mail, at least, continues as varied as usual. I have everything before me from the plaint of a young woman with six children, whose husband can't find work and yet can't get on WPA, to a diatribe from a gentleman in California who tells me that WPA is unpopular with the great mass of people who earn low incomes, often below WPA wages, simply because those on WPA are being paid too much. Here is a nice question. Should you attempt to raise the general economic level so that there may be no group that must live on a substandard basis, or should you, as represented by the government-operated WPA, drag an ever-increasing number of people down to a lower standard of living by paying them so little that their buying power is negligible? In doing this, you would, of course, be adding to the downward spiral of business, as well as setting a lower standard of living.

To jump to an entirely different subject, I have a plea from a man who is deeply interested in Manhattan Island, particularly in the beauty of the approach from the ocean at Battery Park. He tells me that a New York official who is, without doubt, always efficient, is proposing a bridge 100 feet high at the river, which will go across to the Whitehall Building over Battery Park. This, he says, will mean a screen of elevated roadways, pillars, etc., at that particular point. I haven't a question that this will be done in the name of progress, and something undoubtedly needs to be done. But isn't there room for some considereation of the preservation of the few beautiful spots that still remain to us on an overcrowded island? After all, lower Manhattan at Battery Park is one of the gateways through which many of us leave and enter our country. These moments are important moments in our lives and the irritation of an eyesore perpetrated in the name of progress will be bad for the souls of many Americans.


(Copyright, 1939, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 5, 1939

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
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.