My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Monday—I felt very guilty yesterday when my husband telephoned me to tell me that little Ethel du Pont had to go to the hospital and be operated on for appendicitis and I was not in Washington, but one can not foresee what is going to happen, and fortunately her mother reached Washington this morning and all is well.

I have moments when I want to settle down in the country and one of them was upon me this morning! I wanted to play hookey and go down and pick pussy willows and bring them in and watch them come out. I wanted to walk for miles through the muddy fields and woods and not to care how muddy I got, and when I came in I wanted to have a wood fire going and a table in front of it for lunch and then a comfortable chair and a book and nothing else to do.

Such moments of revolt are good for the soul particularly when you don't give in to them! I walked around carefully in my city clothes and then went in and paid my bills and groaned over the way money melts away and took the train to New York City.

Ever since a group of unemployed girls asked me the question "What would you do, Mrs. Roosevelt if you were out of a job today?", I have been haunted by the feeling that it was up to us to make some suggestions in answer to that question. I found a man on the train this morning—a perfect stranger who was also full of an idea. He wanted to go back to the little place in Maine where he grew up and put it on its feet. He told me his ideas as to how it could be done and I told him what was worrying me, and asked him if some ideas I had seemed practical to him. He agreed with me that a careful survey in many communities and an imaginative mind might bring to light a number of services which people would be willing to pay for, even people with small incomes, and he made one statement which has stuck in my mind for he was evidently an experienced manager in a large firm. He said the great buying public is not the few rich people, the market lies in the twelve hundred to three thousand a year group. They are the people who need things. They are the people who need services too I am sure, and they can't always afford to have them and I wish we could bring to light the ways in which to increase their buying power, by providing things which they can sell as well as buy. For instance, the woman whose husband makes twelve hundred dollars a year may have a couple of hours a day which she could sell in return for some service which she wishes to buy. There ought to be a reciprocity exchange in every town of any size where these exchanges could be arranged for. Nothing more than an extension of the old community way of living when everybody got together for barn raisings, and husking bees and each individual's special talent was called upon and everyone earned in one way or another what they got.

Here I am in New York City for the annual party which I give to the staff of Todhunter School.

E.R.
TMsd 22 February 1937, AERP, FDRL