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

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LENINGRAD, U.S.S.R.—Our hosts here in Leningrad—members of the Leningrad Chapter of the United Nations Association—gave a dinner for those of us delegates of the American Association for the U.N. who have still a little more time to spend in this country. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and the speeches on both sides were warm and reflected much appreciation of our meetings.

At 11:30 Mr. and Mrs. Oscar de Lima, Mr. and Mrs. Ken Dyke and Dr. and Mrs. Clements left us, but the rest of us stayed on talking till midnight and some even later. I tried to explain to my neighbors at the dinner table the intricacies of American party politics, and after a long discussion I think they felt that their one-party system was simpler and perhaps better. From across the table I could hear Dr. Holcomb explaining reciprocal trade treaties, and I decided that he had an even harder task than mine. I'm sure, however, that his many years of teaching stood him in good stead, and there's not much doubt that he did a better job than I at explaining.

In the morning of the same day Dr. David Gurewitsch and I spent three hours at the pediatric institute that I had visited last year. I was much interested in the hospital's work with premature babies.

To inspire the students to work hard over these little mites, the institute has displayed on the walls pictures of great men who were premature infants. We were told that many babies weighing as little as 1½ pounds at birth progress well and become healthy children. The hospital does not use incubators, but the cribs are heated and so far as we could see all the youngsters seem to be thriving.

We saw children from two months old and older being exercised, and we were told that the institute follows the Pavlov theories, although in somewhat modified form.

Our afternoon was spent at the Central Youth Palace, which is a magnificent building and is used by an organization called the Pioneer Youth Children. Youngsters from all the schools of the city go there at least twice a week for two-hour sessions. There are singing and dancing classes and many other forms of recreation. And there is a chess room, under the direction of expert teachers, out of which have come three international champions.

At the Palace we listened to a lecture on astronomy and outer space; we saw the room in which the children are taught by pictures about the five-year plan and the Russian economy; and we admired two story-telling rooms that are named after Pushkin and Gorki.

Children were our guides, and they couldn't have been sweeter. My guide, a girl of 13, spoke English quite well and when at her insistence I joined in the dancing she said approvingly, "You dance well."

In an annex nearby various arts and crafts are taught, and the machine shop looked to me about as well equipped as some of our best trade schools. Last year alone more than 2,000 games, toys, and radios were made in this building by the youngsters, who took them to their respective schools for use.

On the following day for four hours in the middle of the day Dr. Gurewitsch and I were in a rehabilitation center very much like Dr. Gurewitsch's own hospital in Blythdale, N.Y.

On our way home we went into a candy and cake and biscuit shop, and found it fascinating. Being a Saturday afternoon, the crowds were very large, especially around the fruit and cheese counters. And we noticed that many shoppers were old men and women, who evidently are past working age and were helping the family by standing in line to buy the family food.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Saint Petersburg (Russia) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 26, 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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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.