My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BRIONI, Yugoslavia—On Saturday I started working on my article for Look Magazine immediately after breakfast but shortly Mr. and Mrs. Vilfan and Mr. Milatinovic appeared to finalize our program here and the rest of our days in Yugoslavia. They said the President and Mrs. Broz would like us to join them at eleven o'clock and go out to the island again, returning at three. I wondered for a minute if I had a right to stop working for that amount of time but I realized that this was an opportunity which I had really asked for.

My formal questions had all been answered. The value of casual conversation is very great in bringing out interests and points of view which one would never think to ask about and I was very grateful that the President was willing to give me this extra time.

At eleven o'clock we departed again for the island. This time the President took me with him in his speedboat and it was great fun slap, slapping over the water at what seemed very great speed. Though he told me the boat could do 40 miles an hour, I doubt if we were going that fast! The others followed us in a second speedboat.

Once on the island we all walked a short distance because Mrs. Broz wanted me to see the vineyard which had been planted as a gift to the President on his birthday last year. A grape arbor was built which someday will be covered by grape vines and on the stone table under it from which one can look out to the sea, the story of the gift is carved in stone in the dialect of the President's native town. He is admonished to come here and rest and eat grapes!

We then went to a little conical shaped building which we were told could be found in any peasant vineyard as it was meant for the storage of wine. In the space within, however, there is always room to sit and drink their wine and talk.

We entered by a low stone door and sat around a little table on benches and stools sipping the red wine out of glasses in the shape of boots. On each glass was the figure of a Yugoslav man or woman in costume, and the President said that these glasses were used in almost every peasant household on gala occasions. He said that the value of these wine storehouses lay in the good talk which frequently went on in them.

The President's police dog, Tiger, was with us and completely devoted to his master.

At one o'clock we returned to the main shelter and had lunch and by three o'clock we were back on the mainland and I went back to work.

In the evening we attended a dinner which the President gave in my honor and he made a charming speech. When I said goodbye, our hosts said they would see me tomorrow to bid us farewell.

It is an interesting thing that this man can be jolly and ready with a laugh. Yet he told me yesterday that when he sat in his office he felt the weight of accumulated problems on the back of his neck and this weight only lightened when he went out and met the people. There is no lack here of appreciation of the problems but there is the kind of buoyancy which comes from courage, the kind of courage I saw both my husband and Winston Churchill show during the most trying times of World War II.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Brijuni, Istarska, Croatia [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 29, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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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.