MAY 12, 1939
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I was up early this morning and out on the bridle path for a short time, but by 11:00 o'clock the usual busy Washington day was upon me. I began with a press conference, next I saw a lady who makes some rather unique bags, and then and there I began my Christmas shopping. A hasty glance at the morning mail and then the usher was at the door announcing that my guests from the World Congress of Writers had arrived.
This group has been holding meetings at the World's Fair in New York City under the auspices of the American Center of the International P.E.N. (poets, editors, essayists and novelists). Dorothy Thompson, who is president of the American Center; Mr. Jules Romains, the International President of P.E.N., and my old friend, Mrs. Henry Goddard Leach, whose husband is vice-president, were the first three people I saw on entering the room. I asked them all to come over at once to the President's office, where he was waiting to receive them. Then we came back to the White House for lunch at little tables in the State Dining Room and out on the South Portico, while the Marine Band played for us on the lawn.
They were all interested in making a tour of the first and second floor rooms and I tried to tell them a little of the history as we went our rounds. Back in the entrance hall, they bade me goodbye and one after the other told me how much impressed they were by the simplicity and dignity of the White House.
We who live here, always have that feeling, but it is interesting to find that foreigners coming here for the first time, carry away that impression and universally seem to feel that it is the perfect house to represent the democracy of the United States.
I was running through my mail last night and I came across a most amusing letter from a gentleman, Mr. Everett Whitmyre, who said that he was sending me a new invention in the way of children's books and, though I did not know it, I was partly responsible for his success. He had been trying to sell his idea and had become rather discouraged when he happened to go up in the elevator with me in an office building in New York City. Because I smiled and looked cheerful, he took heart again, got the money to finance his undertaking and is today employing a number of people. These books are light to hold and, as you read, you turn a little button and the book rolls up a page at a time. So, if you put it down, there are no pages to blow and make it hard for you to find your place again.
Dr. Louise Stanley of the Department of Agriculture, explained to my press conference this morning the experiment which is being tried out in the distribution of surplus commodities in six cities. They are beginning in Rochester, N.Y., and if it proves successful, they hope gradually to increase this method of distribution with the object of increasing the consumption of surplus foods, of improving the diet of people who need it, and perhaps of bringing down the general costs on certain articles because of wider distribution.