DECEMBER 24, 1959
HYDE PARK —I have had time in the last day or two to glance rather hastily through a book called "Man of the World" by Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. He apologizes for the name in the preface, stating that he remembers what a "man of the world" meant in the generation before his own and he considered him obnoxious. But if "man of the world" meant knowing the world and having travelled in it and being particularly interested in the people of the world, then he accepted being called by that name and having his book carry this title.
The last chapter, which he says he considers the most important, deals with the many conversations Mr. Vanderbilt had with my husband on the subject, "What would really bring about a peaceful world?"
He did not have to be with my husband very long before he discovered that his mind was always busy looking into the future. He would have innumerable plans for what you could do under these circumstances or under those circumstances.
One plan that Mr. Vanderbilt used to discuss was a network of roads over which one could travel through every part of the world, with only a short ferry trip here and there. This would intrigue my husband enormously, and it was just like him to say that he would like the lunch basket.
One of the things he always enjoyed in England was the wicker basket that is handed to you through the windows of the trains and for which you pay a few shillings. Having eaten the contents for tea or lunch or dinner, you then leave the utensils in the basket and the railroad does the rest—far more convenient than having to walk through any number of cars to find a diner which is not always too comfortable.
My husband's mind ranged over many continents and he knew an enormous amount about the climate, the products, the animal life and the people everywhere in the world. He did believe that real understanding among the peoples of the world would lead to the kind of way of life that would make killing one another on a large scale an impossible thing, and this would hold good everywhere—in Africa, in Asia, in South America, in Europe. We might not like one another too much but we wouldn't hate, either.
To build the roads that he envisioned would have taken a long time. But if it were a case of reducing your investment in armaments it would be a good way to take up the slack in unemployment. And my husband always had an eye on where work was coming from for the people.
This was a grandiose scheme, and F.D.R. loved to talk about it. But let me assure you, Mr. Vanderbilt, that he had about 10 others up his sleeve that he talked to you and to others about and might have tried to develop had the opportunities presented themselves. He just stored away in his mind possibilities for the things he dreamed might someday come about. Circumstances may still develop the dreams in other people's minds, and people of the future will see them become reality.
(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 24, 1959
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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