My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Sunday—Friday I had the great pleasure of having some very old friends lunch with me. They were Mrs. Edward Macauley and Mrs. Frank Polk, and in addition, Mrs. Richard Bissell, the new director of volunteers for the Red Cross who had just returned from a long trip throughout the country, and Mrs. Robert Magidoff, the Russian wife of the American NBC correspondent in Moscow. Many of you probably listen to his broadcasts every morning.

Mrs. Magidoff has been all over our country speaking for Russian War Relief. She has addressed small audiences and big audiences, labor audiences, rotary clubs, groups of young people and women's clubs. Her English is remarkably good, with just enough foreign accent and construction to keep people's interest fixed upon what she says in order to be sure than one has grasped her meaning.

Mrs. Magidoff was very interesting in her observations on the difference between the psychology of the Russian mother and our own mothers in their attitude to the war. She recognized the fact that having a war on your own territory clarified many things which are difficult for us to understand and certainly difficult to sacrifice for.

She stressed one point that I think very interesting. She said that Russian teaching, from school days on, makes people conscious that they have to think of other people. They are taught that their own interests as individuals are not of paramount importance, but that their neighbors must be considered. This has an effect on the manners and customs.

You would not feel free to whistle, for instance, as we do in public places, without asking your neighbor if it annoyed him. In my childhood no gentleman smoked without asking the ladies if they objected, but that has become unnecessary since so many ladies smoke. We still teach our children to stand up when their elders come into a room, but we would rarely say, as I understand the Russians do, "Citizen, you are not alone." And yet that reminder might be valuable to us in many ways.

On Saturday I gave a luncheon for the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Mrs. Fraser. It was a great pleasure to see them again. They were so kind to me when I was in New Zealand, and Mrs. Fraser travelled with me practically all the time I was there. They are both the kindest people, and have the simplicity that stands out in great people whereever you meet them.

Saturday afternoon I had a tea for the members of the Navy Wives Clubs on America. The members are doing a great deal for each other when they must move from place to place, and through this club, they can almost always be sure of finding a friend whereever they go.

At six-fifteen I broadcasted for the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission and in the evening I went out to the Washington Sanitarium to speak to the Nurses' Alumni Association.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 24, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.