DECEMBER 31, 1940
WASHINGTON, Monday —As I walked down Fifth Avenue in New York City, yesterday afternoon, I could not help being amused by little incidents along the way.
Two small boys, rollerskating, recognized me. With the joy of devilment in his eye, one of the youngsters pulled up in front of me with a grand swirl and said: "Hurrah for Willkie." I imagine he had no idea how funny he was, but I went chuckling down Fifth Avenue and remembered what pleasure it would have given me if at that age I could have thought of something which I considered really clever by which to annoy my elders.
A little further down, a woman, hesitating before crossing the street, caught sight of me and came over rather shyly, saying; "May I shake hands with you, Mrs. Roosevelt? I have always liked you." And so we shook hands and I wished that it might have been a bridge to better acquaintance, for she had an interesting face. Two boys just behind her shook hands, too.
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A minute or two later I met someone I really knew, Connie Ernst, a charming picture with a gay handkerchief tied around her head. She greeted me and we walked two blocks together. Further on, I saw an elderly gentleman; oh, so immaculately dressed, but with an expression on his face that said very plainly that life had lost its savour for him. As I bowed my recognition, I wondered what it was that made old age for some people a time of flowering, but for others a time of drying up.
Three of us listened in my apartment in New York City to the President's speech last night. I think all of us felt that it was as sincere a presentation of the question of national defense as it now stands before the nation, as could well be made.
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The newspaper this evening announces that the "City" of London is in ruins as a result of bombing. I imagine this means little loss of life, and all the activities which have been carried on in the past, in this particular part of London, can be resumed somewhere else. An American who had been in London not very long ago, came to see me today. Someone asked him about the effect of the bombing, and with this very news in mind, perhaps, he answered: "They are the bravest people I have ever seen."
A woman who was here at luncheon just a few days ago casually mentioned that her house in London had been hit a short time ago and she was so thankful that her husband had not gone home to luncheon that day.
The loss of material things seems to matter less and less as the days go by, just as they tell me the old class distinctions are being wiped out by the necessities of the moment. Let us hope that we can learn some of the lessons of suffering without having to endure it.
I had a rather bumpy air trip to Washington this morning. My young fellow passenger, who was on her first flight, was not very happy, but we arrived in time for lunch and she seemed quite recovered, for she went off to the movies with Diana Hopkins afterwards.