My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Sunday—Now let me tell you more about my visit to Brazil.

Not far from Recife, Vice Admiral Ingram has established a recreation center where our Navy men, who go out to sea in the smaller craft which do the really hard patrol and convoy work, can spend two or three days between trips. The building was already there when our men arrived and has been adapted to their use. I think it was to have been a hospital and therefore there are some beautiful sundecks from which you get a view of a lovely countryside all around.

The men have horseshoe pitching and games and quite a number of nice looking horses which they can ride. A boy from Tennessee, in a few weeks, had built up a pretty nursery garden, and you will recognize that this was quite a feat when I tell you that all their water comes to them in barrels by cart loads.

In Recife, we drove along the docks, and the length of that drive gave one an idea of the amount of shipping activity there. When we came to one of our cruisers, Rear Admiral Read and I went aboard. It was a great chance for me to see this ship and her men, who have done such valiant work. They had painted on her side three swastikas, which means three German ships sunk. You will remember reading about this in the papers some time ago.

Later, we drove to the Plaza to review some Brazilian Army units. They went through a delightful drill. Then, with great fervor in Portuguese, the soldiers sang "God Bless America." This song is quite appropriate for any country in North or South America, so I was delighted to find it was translated—and evidently liked, because it was sung so lustily by these Brazilian troops.

We also visited the Brazilian naval apprentice school. This interested me greatly. They take boys of sixteen, give them both academic and practical training and, at seventeen, put them into the Navy as third-class seamen. They are permitted to rise to the rank of lieutenant-commander. I don't suppose that many of them get beyond the rank of non-commissioned officers, but they often come from families where opportunities are scarce.

There are also schools for fishermen and their families which Madame Vargas has started and which promote a knowledge of the ways of preserving and using fish which make fishing a source of better income. The people in the area around Recife live almost entirely from the sea and furnish most of the Brazilian Navy with its sailors.

Their fishing boats fascinated me. They are just logs tied together. No nails are used. The anchor is a stone around which they tie sticks. They sail with one big sail, which, to my eyes, seemed a rather difficult rig to manage. But, in these "jangadas," from which you would think a good wave would wash them overboard, they venture far afield, even going all the way down the coast to Rio.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 3, 1944

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.