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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK, Monday—Before I leave India as a subject for my daily column I must acknowledge a letter that corrects something I said in a previous column.

Since the present government of India has come into power they have seen to it that the need for food in famine areas is met. There have been hardships in different parts of the country but even in 1943 they doubt whether half a million people died.

I think it is only fair to say that great efforts are made today to meet the needs of the people when shortages of food occur. Nobody would deny that the mass of the Indian people are undernourished. Perhaps it is true that we all eat too much and that we do not need as much as we eat to keep us alive, but I was making the point that the people of India are courageous and uncomplaining.

Our flight from Calcutta to Rangoon was very pleasant. We had over an hour in the airport there and I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Robert Aylward and their two children. Mrs. Aylward is the daughter of my old friend, Mrs. Faye Weather, and I was glad to have a glimpse of her in that far-off spot.

We proceeded to Bangkok and got there early enough so that we could drive around the city and get a little impression of it before dark. Rice paddies surrounded us on every side as we drove from the airport. This is the time of year when water is lowest, so the canals looked rather dirty and stagnant, but children were bathing in them just the same. On the bigger canals boats were playing their way up and down. This is a favorite mode of transportation in the Far East. Vegetables go in by boat and are sold in the cities. In fact, life is lived very close to the water.

We spent that night in the government guest house, which is known as Peace House, and we dined with the Prime Minister and his wife. Everyone was most kind, and after the fairly large reception and dinner we saw an exhibition of Siamese dancing which was most interesting. Like so much of the dancing in that part of the world, it tells a story that has to do with either a religious subject or some well-known folk tale.

Even in such a remote part of the world one is apt to hear in a quiet way some discussion about what is going on at home, particularly in the State Department, and I was interested to hear some remarks about Oliver Edmund Clubb's resignation. The person I was talking to said that it seemed a pity that someone who had been such a firm rock to whom many Americans and other Westerners turned in Peking during the troubled months of the siege and the Communist occupation should have been forced out. Those to whom I spoke said he had been an able and experienced expert in our service and that his departure was a loss to the department and to the country. It also was a pity, they said, that neither the press nor the public seemed to have any realization of the valuable services he had rendered the country and that no mention was ever made of his solitary confinement after Pearl Harbor in Indo-China while he waited to be repatriated or that for 15 months he sat in Peking watching the formation of the new Communist government, analyzing it and providing the government with the major amount of its intelligence for that period of Chinese history.

Too many men in the service, and women, too, are getting the feeling that it is better to keep ones mouth shut and not to think about things. They fear to do anything except to state the necessary facts because one might make mistake and what one said might be misinterpreted. This is dangerous for our country and I hope that those who are investigating public serives may remember that while their intentions are good they may be making some mistakes.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Aylward, Margaret Fayerweather, 1918-2002 [ index ]
         Daughter of ER's friend
         [ Other source ]
  • Aylward, Robert Allen, 1916-2002 [ index ]
         American public servant
         [ Other source ]
  • Bhandhukravi, La-iad, 1903-1994 [ index ]
         Thai politician and first lady; spouse of Thai prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram
         [ Wikidata ]
  • Clubb, O. Edmund (Oliver Edmund), 1901-1989 [ index ]
         American diplomat
         [ LC | ISNI | VIAF | Wikidata | SNAC | FAST | US Nat. Archives | ANB ]
  • Fayerweather, Margaret Doane Gardiner, 1883-1958 [ index ]
         Friend of ER
  • Plǣk Phibūnsongkhrām, 1897-1964 [ index ]
         Thai politician; Thai prime minister, 1948-1957
         [ LC | ISNI | VIAF | Wikidata | FAST ]
  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 1, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | LC | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | Wikidata | SNAC ]

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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  • Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
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  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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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 June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.