MARCH 8, 1939
NATCHEZ, Miss., Tuesday—We arrived in Vicksburg, Miss., at 7:20 this morning. Knowing we would have a long drive, we breakfasted before leaving the train. The paved road has been put through with the help of WPA labor so recently that everybody is still talking about it. One lady told us she had objected very much to having a paved road go through because she wanted people to linger in Natchez. However, because they have considerably less travel by boat than they once had, and since no train passes through, I think it rather fortunate for the tourists they can now come here over a good and very pretty road.
At 9:30 we reached the hotel, had an hour to settle downcomfortably, and then met the press and later the advisory committee of the state NYA. Later I had a short talk with the assistant Director of WPA women's and professional projects in this state. They are particularly anxious to start a restoration project, because the old houses are badly in need of repair.
As we drove down this morning, I noticed soil erosion work and terracing going on. I was told by some of the gentlemen who came to see me that it made a great difference in the condition of the land. Perhaps, after all, it will someday turn out that this period when we are obliged to spend great sums of public money, has meant an investment which will, in the future, bring returns to the public as a whole.
After an early lunch, we left the hotel at 1:00 and managed to visit 7 of the lovely old homes. The most beautiful gardens, it seems to me, were those of "Montaigne," but among so much beauty it is hard to pick out any one which is particularly outstanding.
Never tell me that women are not able in business. Natchez is being built up financially by a woman's idea carried out by women. They have obtained good publicity and they have one great advantage, the houses displayed are really homes. They are lived in today and frequently the mistress of the house receives you herself. Some of the dresses worn are genuinely old and the furniture is good of its date. In some cases it does not happen to be our most beautiful period, but the pieces are good examples of their day and the china and silver is extremely interesting. I saw a set of china painted by Audubon which, even though it has been divided in the family, still consists of 200 pieces. It was amusing to find some china with gold and pink decoration which is identical with a few pieces of china that came to me from my Grandmother Roosevelt, and which is almost the counterpart of a set I have long admired belonging to my cousin, Mrs. Henry Parish. Many of the paintings were the same as those which hung in my Grandfather Hall's house. He bought them in Italy when he travelled abroad at about the same time that cotton was king in Natchez and people here imported their furniture and their art.