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

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PARIS, Monday—On Friday I went to a most interesting luncheon given by W. Averell Harriman, American special representative in Europe of the European Recovery Program. Our representatives in various Western European countries and trade union leaders from all those countries came to Paris to meet Secretary of State George C. Marshall and to hear him speak.

I was happy to be able to attend the luncheon but distressed because I had to leave at a quarter to three so as to be at the opening of the General Assembly meeting in the afternoon.

The French people cannot understand why one needs to hurry over a meal. What Mr. Harriman expected to be a short luncheon became a traditional French meal with many courses. It isn't really that you get more to eat, but what you get is served in separate courses and the process of eating it is long and drawn out.

This does not mean that the food here is cheap and plentiful. It does mean that when the French entertain they make a tremendous effort, and here in this city if you spend enough money you can get what you want.

I suppose that could be said of almost any big city in the world but that doesn't seem quite right when one feels as I do. The economic base is far from stable here and there is unrest among the people just because they can see how wide a difference there is between what they have and what one may obtain if only one's bank account is big enough.

In spite of its inconveniences I think the equality of drabness is what makes up the strength of the British Isles. There are some exceptions even there, of course, but by and large from the King down to the simplest workingman certain rules apply equally.

The children of Great Britain, on the whole, are better fed than ever before, but of course there is a discipline among the people there that I do not think exists in any other country of the world. It does not exist here in Paris, and I do not think it exists with us in America. In the countries of Eastern Europe it may exist, but most of us know little about that.

* * *

Back at the Palais de Chaillot, Committee Three reported the first item on its agenda—the convention on narcotic drugs—to the General Assembly. The convention was passed unanimously, so there is strong hope that all the nations will sign it immediately and then we can feel that the many new synthetic drugs, which can be manufactured so easily, will be controlled for man's good and not allowed to do the harm that they might easily do. One factory could make enough of these new drugs to flood the whole world, and they are all habit-forming drugs, so it is easy to see why the convention must be universally applied.

Following this action by the General Assembly, Committee Three met to continue its arguments over Article One of the Bill of Human Rights, and the arguments carried us through Saturday morning.

Each time I go into one of these meetings I hope that we may be able to finish our work, but so far my hopes have never been realized.

* * *

After we left our meeting late Friday afternoon we went to the American Embassy where a reception was given for Secretary of State and Mrs. Marshall. Seeing them stand there in line quietly shaking hands with an endless stream of people who were pouring into the house, it was hard to realize that General Marshall was about to leave for the United States.

When John Foster Dulles returned the other day I could not keep from being envious of him and I asked him if it had not been a wonderful feeling to be back in the United States, even for so short a time. He could only think, however, of the fact that he had a very hard time. He had gone to Albany from New York City and then hurried back, with no time to rest, for his return flight. I realized my question must have seemed ridiculous.

After I have been away from home for a few weeks, however, I begin to yearn for it and to think of all its charms. Probably one reason is that over here you are so close to the problems of the world that you feel impelled to try to think out some overall solution and magnitudinous plan that will meet the needs of the future and somehow heal the scars created by our mutual bitternesses and recriminations. It makes one overconscious of one's own impotence in the face of such great responsibility, which rests on each and every one of us here.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 12, 1948

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.