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

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PARIS—When we were in Iran we drove out to the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia, which lies about 30 miles northwest of Shiraz. The first part of the way was a paved road and then we were on a dirt road, which we would characterize in our own West as being a washboard road. We bounced along, occasionally meeting a truck which for a few minutes would envelop us in dust. For the most part, however, we passed people on horseback or on foot. Every once in a while we would pass a little group of loaded donkeys, sometimes with a man astride one of them, sometimes with a man on foot urging them on.

There are some green fields at this time of year, and we saw flocks of sheep and goats and a few cows. The cows in Iran seem to me to be very small, but the country does have some very fine horses.

At the ruins we viewed some beautiful friezes and carvings along the walls. An earthquake, a few years ago, however, toppled many of the columns and destroyed a great deal which had survived through many centuries. Then we drove to the tombs of three ancient Persian kings named Darius, and nearby we found a little house which the guide told us belonged to an American. So we sat on the stones in front of this house in the shade and ate our lunch.

On these tombs there are some very impressive carvings, and one realizes how much importance was attached to the glory of one's final resting place. The great were buried in walls of rock, and the whole front of their tombs are carved and embellished in every possible way. I was told that in the same wall of rock some less important people are also buried; but there is very little now to identify them.

There is an agricultural experiment station not far out of Shiraz, and we noticed one sizable reforestation project on the slope of a hill.

I met two young Iranian men who are trying to run farming projects and also trying to improve their villages and the conditions of life among the people who live there. I did not, however, come across any concept of the type of cooperatives that would exist in similar areas in the United States.

It may be that there is some difficulty about establishing this kind of cooperative in Iran, but I cannot help wondering whether one could not adapt some of the ideas of the modern cooperative to the village life of the country. It would certainly facilitate the buying of machinery, for instance.

We noticed several American tractors being used, and yet not far away we could see land being plowed by oxen. The slower method would not be necessary at all if cooperatives could be established. Of course, one difficulty might be the care and upkeep of machinery, but I should think a short, specialized training period would take care of that. I was told at one hospital that workers had learned to take care of the elevator in use there.

At a tea given by my daughter, Anna, and her husband, Dr. Halsted, I met an exchange professor who is teaching English and American literature. He comes from New England, and his leave of absence ends this coming June. I asked him whether he was doing any research and study of Persian literature and the language, but he told me that he had been kept too busy with his teaching to learn a great deal.

This seems to me a pity, for we need more knowledge about Iran's cultural life, and I should think that all of our exchange people, wherever they are, should have time for study as well as teaching.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 1, 1959

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.