My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PATRAS, Greece—Greece seems to me to be largely a country of mountains. We have driven two days now over the most mountainous roads imaginable and I can only say I am glad to have a most excellent driver. However, if one were inclined to object to twists and turns, I think one might be very miserable.

I am fascinated by the little mountain villages. Sometimes you wonder what the people live on. There is a wonderfully aromatic purple flower which seems to be everywhere and which grows on these very arid mountain slopes. Otherwise they seem to be practically bare but there are rows of beehives seen frequently and we had delicious honey for breakfast this morning.

One of the valleys we came through this morning had miles and miles of olive groves and we think there must have been a very good wheat harvest, judging from the threshing we have been seeing all through the day.

It is interesting to see the women pick up the bundles of wheat, load them on poles and carry them to the threshing machine. The machine we watched this morning had "Marshall" written upon it and we discovered that this was part of the Marshall Plan for Greece. One of the men who spoke a little English said "It used to take weeks, now it only takes days." I was pleased to see an American plan really making a difference in the lives of the people.

The Greek women, like the women all over the world, seem to have jobs which keep them fairly busy. You see them in the fields, in the villages carrying water from the village spring or well or carrying other heavy loads on their backs. In the evening they are bargaining at the little vegetable stores chiefly, at this season, for tomatoes and cucumbers. Judging from all I could see they keep their houses clean and do a lot of spinning and weaving of wool.

The hand woven woolen materials are stiff and hard but bags, for instance, are filled with grain so I would say it is essential that they be tightly woven to hold what is put into them.

There are also vineyards in great numbers on the barren hills as well as in the valleys and Patras, where we spend tonight at the hotel Cecil, is a center for the wine business. It is a shipping port where many Mediterranean ships call.

The little hotel Apollo where we stayed last night in Delphi was very comfortable and clean and gave us wonderful food.

We got up early this morning and went at seven o'clock to look at a temple some distance down the road which we had not visited yesterday. It was very interesting but it had suffered from some sliding rocks which had evidently destroyed a good deal of it recently. The three columns left standing, however are very lovely.

It is very evident that the people of Greece are poor but in the areas in which we have been driving I have very little sense of real squalor. The children look healthy and on the whole well dressed. A great many of the older Greek women are dressed in black with a black shawl over their heads but I notice the custom is passing among the younger women and I hope it will for it seems to me a gloomy habit.

I went into the little shop next to the hotel this morning to try to buy some towels since we wanted to go swimming if we happened to find a good beach. The shop, however, was practically filled with woven wool rugs and to my surprise the patterns on the rugs were almost identical with Navajo Indian rugs in the U.S., but not nearly so handsome.

We bought our towels later in what would be called a county fair at home but which they call a bazaar here, set up in tents outside a small town.

We did go swimming in the afternoon and I had to dress and undress in the car, a feat, however, which was fairly easily accomplished!


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Patras, Greece [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 12, 1953

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.