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

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LONDON—A lady who came to see me the other day said she really was ashamed to meet her friends nowadays, since she always seemed to be begging from them. I think that probably is the case with people in many countries today.

Shortages of goods are so great that, in devastated countries, people who ordinarily would not find it difficult to have things find now that buying almost anything is practically impossible. If that is so for people who have money, one can well imagine what the situation is for those who rarely had more than their absolute day-by-day needs and who now are going without essentials and barely keeping body and soul together.

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If I were at home, I would have taken an active part, on my husband's birthday, in the culmination of the annual March of Dimes campaign for funds for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. I hope very much that the research which goes on in the United States as a result of this foundation is made available to every nation, because this dread disease is contracted throughout the world.

The pooling of every bit of knowledge gained in the fight against infantile paralysis is important. Other countries may not be able to support the kind of research we are doing in the United States, and so this is one more way in which our country can help others.

There are many organizations in the United States for which appeals go out daily, asking for support of charities to benefit conditions in the war-ravaged countries. One small group sends packages to France. It is called Colis de l'Amitie Americaine aux Enfants de France. They try to put individuals in touch with each other so that, besides material help, there will grow up a kindly interest between individuals.

Here is a quotation from a letter which shows what results are obtained by this particular group. "Dear Mademoiselle:—I received safely your package for my little boy and don't know how to thank you, for he had nothing left, seeing my husband was a political deportee just back and not well yet...Dear Mademoiselle, if you could be near us to offer you a few flowers because I am happy for my little boy. He is already wearing the sweater and underclothes. Thank you again for this fine little parcel, so he can go to school."

A number of things have been done by groups employed in certain industries in the United States for cities and countries abroad where there are similar industries. For instance, members of the lace trade sent to Calais, center of the French lace trade and one of the cities which suffered greatly in the war, about 1,250,000 francs worth of food and clothing. This could be multiplied many times over and would be a very great help.

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I've had an opportunity, under the auspices of the Women's Volunteer Services, to see some of the new housing being put up in the badly blitzed London dock area. Along the wharves here, acres and acres of houses were destroyed.

The housing program was planned in three parts. First, there were erected fairly primitive dwellings, consisting of two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen with running cold water. These furnished immediate shelter. The next step was prefabricated houses, which are expected to last ten years and are a little more comfortable.

Final step is well-built two-story houses which, in part, are also prefabricated. The heating units and plumbing all come ready for connection. These houses have a bathroom, hot and cold running water, and a heat duct going up from the first floor to the second. The little living room has a tiny fireplace, without which, I imagine, no British householder would feel really at home. There are three bedrooms as a rule.

These houses rent for about one pound a week. They are in the old slum areas, of course, and it is expected that all of them will be subsidized to some extent, since it is freely acknowledged here that it is not possible for private industry to provide decent housing for low-paid workers without a subsidy. The two-year and ten-year temporary houses are owned by the city government, so there is no danger of their being left standing to form new slums.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • London (England, United Kingdom) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 31, 1946

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.