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

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BRUSSELS, Belgium —To continue our journey around the American Pavilion at the World's Fair here, we next found ourselves at the exhibit of modern paintings. On display is only the work of artists under 45 years of age, and many parts of our country are represented.

I am told that these exhibits have made a deep and exciting impression on artists from different parts of Europe. Even I—no expert in modern art and in need of far more education and application in looking—came away feeling that I could live very happily with a painting called "Rain" by James Boynton and with one by Kyle Morris, which is untitled, and another by Bernard Perlin called "The Farewell." Also, the caricatures by Steinberg are most amusing and typical of types that most of us have enjoyed.

I went through the business machines area, and all of these displays were carefully explained and demonstrated to us. Unless one had such explanations I do not see how one average visitor going through would find this part of our exhibition interesting, except that, like machinery in any of the other pavilions, it shows our capacity for mechanics.

We soon went through the cocktail lounge and cafeteria, where people not only were eating inside but also taking outside to a terrace their lunches which many had brought with them, buying only a drink in the cafeteria. It is all very well arranged and managed, and I think this is a side of American life that is worth showing to our neighbors who spend so much time over their meals and never seem to understand what we mean when we tell them that we don't like to eat so much or take so much time off to eat, particularly at noon.

When we explain to most Europeans that we work better in the afternoon when we take less time and eat less at our midday meal they seem puzzled. Here we have demonstrated what we mean, and it is astonishing to see how many visitors are eating hamburgers, which they have just bought and taken out to eat on the terrace. This well may turn out to be a real interpretation to the foreigner of one facet of our life, which could mean far-reaching changes in their understanding of America's habits and customs.

By this time I felt that though there was still much to see here, I would like to see a foreign pavilion before lunch. So we walked through the Russian pavilion for a quick glance and to make a mental note about what we might wish to come back later to see more thoroughly.

The Soviets have an imposing building of glass set at the top of a high flight of steps. I thought our exhibits had attracted great crowds, but the Russian pavilion was even more crowded—for the reason, I suppose, that this is a country of mystery and one that is cut off even from the observations of people who are fairly close neighbors.

In the Soviet building one gets a chance to see how the Russians live and work, what they produce and what they are like. At the very entrance, however, one is struck by the fact that the Russians do not lay any emphasis on how life can be made pleasanter for the individual. They do attempt to show, though, how they can go to work joyfully and how they can take part in sports to keep healthy. But they would not bother to have a fashion show of moderately priced clothes such as we have in the middle of a delightful pond in our building. Our style show has attracted a great many people because the clothes are designed and made for people in the middle-income group, and the viewer sees that as much trouble is taken in their manufacture as if they were being made for millionaires.

On the first floor of the Soviet pavilion replicas of the sputniks, from the first to the third, are all on view, with descriptions of what they contain. They certainly draw an interested crowd. An enormous statue of Lenin dominates the whole building.

We reached the Czechoslovakian pavilion in plenty of time for lunch and had Mrs. Irving Solomon, who is here with her husband and who does not attend the executive committee meetings, as our guest.

Then we visited the whole of the Czechoslovakian building and found it interesting from every point of view. Like other Iron Curtain countries, though, it is rather lacking in modern painting and even in some of its sculpture. Of course, the glass and the pottery and the weaving were what all of us are familiar with and much of it is very beautiful.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Brussels (Belgium) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 5, 1958

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.