SEPTEMBER 17, 1958
MOSCOW —In order to retain a continuity of events on my present trip I should like to write at least one more article about the Brussels World's Fair before telling of our flight to Moscow.
I talked to many representatives of the Belgian government and to many of the people who have been active in promoting the exhibition, and they all feel deeply that the fair has succeeded in giving a picture of a better life for mankind—more comforts, greater joys and pleasures and less tensions—with one reservation. That reservation, if we are to achieve these goals, would be to be at peace—to be allowed to develop our mutual contacts and our own skills and resources.
Now that I have seen so many of the pavilions and their activities I have a clearer point of view of what we have tried to do in our exhibit. Without any question, I think that by day and by light at night we have used our land well. The fountain is lovely, the apple trees heavy with fruit are a source of pleasure, and our building is architecturally—inside and out—one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, of all the buildings. Some of our individual exhibits are perfect for the theme that the Belgians wished to develop, and they tell the story of our own achievements in the best possible way.
If our exhibit lacked anything, it was perhaps imagination. If the appropriation had been somewhat larger it may have been possible to hire someone with imagination and coordinating ability to organize all the exhibits so that as one progressed one saw and understood the life of the people in the United States and felt that he was in a section of our country living that life with the people.
That is what we wanted to achieve, but did not quite put it over, I am afraid. The Dutch succeeded very well in doing this. As one walks through their area there is no doubt that one is walking through a part of Holland.
The Soviet Union, having to cover only a 40-year period—going back to 1918—tried to tell its story with paintings on the walls. The emphasis is on the joy in work—not on any leisure time—and on the importance of health largely because of the need for work. Their exhibit is a stupendous show of machinery, of scientific machinery, and of a growing ability to do what we have been doing for over a hundred years and which many of the countries of Europe have been doing for much longer.
It was more important for us to tell the European world and visitors from Asia, Africa and South America what we are able to do today in the way of making life more agreeable and leisure more possible and more truly valuable in cultural ways for our people.
Perhaps this may be a small criticism, but I think our exhibits could have had bigger lettering on the signs, which would have made them a lot easier to read for many more people. I think, too, the small business machines unit should be in motion all the time, because things such as those become most interesting when you see them working.
Our theater at the fair, it seems, left something to be desired in the minds of many, but I am told it was not well advertised. I do know that the Russian ballet in the theater in town drew people more easily and, therefore, probably more people. Whether we could have done something in town instead of at the exhibition grounds I am not able to judge. What we have done in the theater, however, is remarkable, considering the small amount of our appropriation.
On the whole, I think the Europeans appreciate our buildings and exhibits more than our American citizens do. Many Americans would rather we showed our strength and our power. But as one European remarked, "The streets of Brussels are filled with American cars and they make many traffic problems for us. Besides, it was an American bulldozer that cleared the land for the Russians' pavilion. Your heavy machinery is in use everywhere."
(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced
- [ index ] Moscow (Russia)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 17, 1958
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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