My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Monday—Seven o'clock saw us on the road yesterday morning and we received the news with joy that it was a paved road all the way except for a few miles. The sky was blue overhead and the sun shone and we were all feeling very cheerful.

Even though, I was on my way to join a group for whom I was partly responsible, I felt so sure that they would find the trip interesting that I shed all my cares. While on a lecture trip I must think of many things! Now I can catch cold and have a red nose and lose my voice and it won't matter to anyone but to me! If anything happens to anyone at home I won't be obliged to weigh my duty to a contract signed months ago against my inclination to journey homeward immediately.

There is a satisfaction in finishing a piece of work and a lecture trip is a piece of work, but mixed with that satisfaction there is a sense of obligation which I can now shed and I feel particularly carefree!

We stopped at the museum in the Shiloh National Park and were told the story of the battle by a young lecturer. He had that kind of fluency which comes only from daily repetition of the same story. I was glad to see the map there, and all through the day I have been glad to see maps. Dams are marvelous engineering feats and they fill me with awe and admiration for the men who plan them and execute them. I would never have the courage to begin so monumental a work. But I am not an engineer and of all the interesting things I saw yesterday two things stand out in my mind. Always this part of the country has seemed poor to me, the land is poor, the majority of houses are poor, the people living in them look poor. The TVA has done something to this countryside however, since I was here two years ago. The farmers are beginning to conserve their land.Field after field is terraced to prevent the top soil from being washed away.

When we were going over the big Muscle Shoals fertilizer plant I was told an interesting story.

The Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the TVA arranged that farmers who wanted phosphate could get it in lieu of cash payments from the government. Instead of trying to feed their crops they are trying to put back into the land something which it had lost by using fertilizer and planting a cover crop which can be used for grazing. In everyone of the dams yesterday I saw pictures of this kind of conservation. The map of the area was there to illustrate flood control and navigation and the generation of power and more pictures showed how it would be used. Hundreds of people visit these dams and these pictures mean a liberal education to them as they did to me.

Our first stop this morning was at Pickwick Dam which is only sixty percent complete and which I had not seen before. From then on I was seeing things for the second time which is always much better for you see so much more.

Last evening we sat around and asked questions of some of the officials connected with the work and then proceeded by train to Knoxville, Tennessee and now we are spending the day in Norris, but more of this tomorrow.

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