My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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ROCK ISLAND, Ill., Friday—Busy as yesterday was I managed to sandwich in a very pleasant little luncheon Party, and to run out for a few minutes to order some Christmas presents.

Driving back, we were stopped by a light at a crossing and I happened to look straight into the face of a woman who was waiting for a street car. If ever I saw tragedy in any woman's face, it was written in hers, and I almost leaned out to ask if I could do something, but remembered just in time that she would probably think I had gone crazy. All the way back, however, I kept wondering what might have brought that look of fear and hopelessness into her face. She was about forty years old, with hair already gray, thin, and with something of the look of a race horse in her features, the same anxious expression a horse has when he's at the starting post before the race begins. Perhaps her race was over and she could not find a new one to start again! Her clothes were clean and well cared for but almost threadbare and her shoes were worn. Could she have been looking for a job, or was it some other great anxiety?

How lonely every human soul can be, and how nearly you can touch tragedy and pass it by. What a curious world this is where people are thrown so closely together in such great numbers and yet are so completely apart that they can not even try to reach across and find out what is happening in the life of some passing human being!

Mrs. Scheider and I left Washington at five o'clock and found ourselves in a very comfortable compartment on a luxurious train. We had breakfast before reaching Chicago this morning and as I looked out, I was glad that this was not one of my trips by air, for willy-nilly, I would have stayed in Chicago this morning. The atmosphere was like green pea soup.

We went across to the Rock Island station in peace and quiet to take our train out for Des Moines, Iowa. On reaching the station we found a band and much apparent excitement. The railroad officials could give me no explanation at first. They kindly let us sit in the station master's office, and in a few minutes they came in and announced that the band was meeting my son, James, who was coming to speak to the Catholic Youth organizations. Because I had tried to see him yesterday in Washington and had been told that he was in Chicago, it never occurred to me that we would meet in Chicago. It was an unexpected joy, and we had a few minutes chat in the station master's office, and then I walked out to see him off.

Ahead of us as we walked down the stairs marched some very nice looking boys in uniform and I was told that they belonged to the aviation school and had taken third prize in the St. Louis races. They certainly looked like a fine group of boys, and I understand that they are taught how to build a plane which is certainly a good way to begin your education as an aviator.

Before long our Rock Island train was backed into the station, and Mrs. Scheider and I are now comfortably on board preparing for a good day's work and we will reach Des Moines by six o'clock this evening.

E.R.
TMsd 5 November 1937, AERP, FDRL