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

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CHICAGO —I have been reading some rather disquieting articles having to do with the building of shelters for protection in case of a nuclear war. And I have come to the conclusion that if our government asks us to build shelters we should do so. One of the important things for the Soviet government to realize is that we in this country are completely united behind our government.

However, these articles, which I have seen in various newspapers, disturb me greatly. One of them quotes a father of a family to the effect that he is building his shelter in secret because he is afraid others might try to seek shelter with him and he must think first of the safety of his own family.

This, of course, may be a natural reaction for the head of a family, but it seems to me a government cannot allow such a situation that separates citizens from one another.

I think our government should devise a complete plan. In this way if it is possible for us to escape any immediate attack we should know exactly where we are going, and those people who are to receive us should also know so that adequate supplies and shelter can be provided. It would be perhaps permissible to leave construction of shelters to individual families in areas where there would be no expectation of direct attack.

For the government, however, not to make provision for the refugees who might possibly be evacuated from the target areas is unthinkable. For some of us to fight any refugees who might come into our communities would bring about a divided spirit and a selfishness which in the end would make it impossible for us to unite and rise again to overcome the devastation that would necessarily require all the unity and cooperation possible.

I urge that if satisfactory shelters can be built with safeguards to provide air free from radioactivity that the method be not left to haphazard private construction. Whatever is done should be done under government supervision. And a plan should be made immediately for the care of refugees.

I am shocked at the selfish reaction that has already been manifested in our press, and I hope we will realize that if a nuclear war should come the only way that those who do survive could rise from the ashes would be by a mutual helpfulness. To disregard any selfish consideration is essential and to think of all our fellow citizens as belonging to one family must be our aim.

I hope I will be forgiven if I inject a little story in this column which is a confession of guilt. I am writing it because I hope that the wrong I inadvertently did may be rectified if my victim should happen to read this column. I realize it is purely of interest in New York City, but perhaps the rest of my readers will be amused and forgive my turning to something so personal.

About two days ago I left a taxi to go into a shop. I thought the driver could back into a place by the curb and wait for me, and I thought he understood I was coming right out and that this was what I expected him to do. There was 60 cents due on the meter when I got out.

I was only a short time giving my order in the store and I came out to find no taxi. I wandered up and down the block, stood at the corners and looked and finally a gentleman getting out of a taxi, thinking I was looking for one, offered me his. In desperation I took it, explaining to my driver that I was still looking, as we drove slowly away, for my original taxi.

I cheated that driver out of 60 cents, plus a tip, and I feel guilty. So, I would be grateful if, on the chance that particular driver sees this item of confession, he would send me a note telling me where I could reimburse him.

I use taxis so much in New York City that most of the drivers know where I live, but it might be difficult for someone who does not know to find out and come to collect his money. So, I make this confession in the hope, which I realize is very slight, that my unintentional dishonesty can be rectified.


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Chicago (Ill., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 4, 1961

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
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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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.