Eleanore Roosevelt and Me

Feb 11, 2014 | 2 comments

Eleanor Roosevelt at Work

Eleanor Roosevelt at Work

I’m a little foggy now as to why Ruth left the fat My Day book by Eleanor Roosevelt hanging on my fence by the handles of a plastic bag.  She had undoubtedly talked to me about it over raspberry blintzes and coffee at the Full Circle Café last week.  And, I’m sure I expressed interest.  I’m so glad she followed through.

Eleanor and I go back a long time, though not quite as long as her husband Franklin and I.  He had just begun his second term in office the year I was born, and he was the first President I ever heard speak – on the radio, on December 8, 1941, his ‘Day of Infamy’ speech.  I was in first grade and I knew it was something important because my father paced the floor and my mother had me sit in her lap and listen.

Too, I remember when FDR died.  It was in the Spring of 1945 and classes at Edison School were cancelled out of respect.  I was only nine but I do remember the adults talking about Mrs. Roosevelt and how she must have felt that he died when he was with his lady friend, not with her.  But it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I learned anything definitive about Eleanor Roosevelt and, looking back, I can say that what I learned influenced the rest of my life.

During my freshman or sophomore year in high school, I was installed in Job’s Daughters.  My Bostonian grandfather was an active Mason and he and my grandmother felt that I should carry on the family tradition by joining Job’s Daughters.  It didn’t take.  As soon as I realized that my Catholic and Jewish friends couldn’t join, I was ‘outta there.’

I’m not sure that it was at the same time, but that event is connected in my mind with my Bostonian Grandmother’s urging that I join the Daughters of the American Revolution.  She belonged and said I could trace my American ancestry back to pre-colonial times and I was “entitled.”  About then I heard the famous story of Marian Anderson – how the DAR had not allowed her to sing in their Constitution Hall in Washington DC and Mrs, Roosevelt invited her to hold the concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  I turned my back on the DAR and Eleanor Roosevelt became a role model, at least in matters of non-discrimination,

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

“My Day” by Eleanor Roosevelt

Otherwise, though, I have never known much about FDR’s wife.  I certainly didn’t know, for instance, that from 1935 to 1945 she had a syndicated newspaper column called “My Day” that she wrote six days a week – more than 3000 columns in ten years.  In it she wrote about children, married life, and women’s roles as well as politics and world events and candid stories from her own life.  According the introduction to this collection of her columns, also called My Day, she was interested in “the connection between things of the past and things of today.”

As soon as I read that forward, I knew I would love this book.  In such a small, small way, my little Oysterville Day Book blog is similarly concerned.  Not on the grand scale of a First Lady, but on a microscopic, Small Town America scale.  Of course, there are serious differences.  I write my blog daily rather than resting on the seventh as Eleanor did, and now that my year four is drawing to a close, I doubt that there will be six more to equal her ten years.

Also, in the Preface, editor Rochelle Chadakoff says, “”Writing a five-hundred word column six days a week would be considered a full-time job for even the most experienced journalist.”  Hmmm.  Interesting to contemplate.  I think my blogs run about that many words but I’ve always considered them a preface to my day – like a second cup of coffee.   She traveled with her typewriter; I am never without my laptop.  On the other hand, she often knitted while she dictated her column to her secretary.

I know I’m going to love this book!  I’ve barely started it but Eleanor still holds a fascination for me.  A secretary!  What a fine idea!  Knitting??  Not so much…

2 Comments

  1. Nancy

    Eleanor: My role model also!

    Reply
  2. Jo

    I, too, have always been interested in Eleanor. After Franklin’s death, she stayed interested in politics. I think she served as a delegate to the United Nations. People tended not to take any notice of her because of her voice and the fact that she was a woman. But, I think that gave her an advantage in dealing with them. She was much more intelligent than many gave her credit for. From articles I have read, she always tried to be a good a person as she possibly could. I shall have to get the book you spoke of in your blog. It sounds interesting. Thanks.

    Reply

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