DECEMBER 1, 1938
SARASOTA, Fla., Wednesday—It is wonderful how rumors spread. Just before lunch yesterday, a very nice young reporter from a Sarasota newspaper came in to call and I told him about this being an unofficial trip and he went away quite happy. A little later he telephoned my aunt and said that he was in serious trouble because it was rumored that I had visited several places of public interest, and would she tell him if I had been there? She responded that I hadn't visited any of the places in question.
As a matter of fact, all we did yesterday afternoon was to drive down to a point where one can get fishing boats and look at the beach where, should it really turn warm, we might go and swim. Then we drove through Venice, named, I suppose, for the queen city of the Adriatic. Individual places in the town are very charming, but on the whole you receive an unfinished impression. On the way back we stopped at a rather unique small hotel which looks like a barn on the outside, but is quite charming on the inside. The world is indeed a small place for the manager proved to be the cousin of a boy I know quite well in New York State.
The house of the Grays, with whom I am stopping, has more charm for me than any other house I have seen around here. David Gray built it according to his own plans and watched over the workmen every minute during its construction, so it has real individuality. There are two little courts. The terrace, which is completely enclosed by the house and the water, gives one a feeling of being cut off from all the world. All the sun there is, pours down there during the day, the flowers bloom, the grass is green and they are fortunate enough to have one or two fair-sized trees on it.
The rooms all open out to the water or on this little terrace and every room has a fireplace. Last evening we sat in the living room with the fire blazing on the hearth and I read aloud from Hendrik Willem Van Loon's, "Our Battle," which is his answer to Adolph Hitler's, "My Battle."
Mr. Van Loon's book was inspired by that curious performance in New York City on October 12, 1938 when, at a meeting in that city, Mayor La Guardia's name was hissed and a foreign dictator's was cheered. Whether you agree with everything in this little book or not, I think you will enjoy reading it, for, as an historian, Mr. Van Loon has a way of saying things and he draws upon a vast fund of knowledge to fix the facts in your mind by some illustration which is always to the point.
You may feel that he is hard on some people. For instance, last night, one of my listeners said that he felt that Clemenceau had been kept alive on onion soup, yes, but by love for his country and not by hate. I have always had a theory that all hate sooner or later killed, but after reading this book, which spurs you to look back over the past, I am forced to the conclusion that while hate may kill in the end, it allows people to do a great deal of harm before their eventual demise. In any case, read the book, it will, I think, increase your sense of responsibility for our democracy.