JULY 26, 1939
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—One has to read the newspapers to find out what is happening, even in a house in which one lives part of the year! A little box this morning informs me that some enterprising person is selling to tourists, for $1 each, the cards issued by congressmen and senators to their friends and constituents free, and which entitle them to see rooms in the White House usually not open to the general public.
There has never been any charge for seeing the White House. There are restrictions as to days and hours, but the service offered is part of the White House expense. It requires, of course, much more cleaning and, during visiting hours, a maid has to be on hand to check people's belongings. But no charge is ever made and it is strange that this fact has never sufficiently entered the public's consciousness enough to prevent tourists from being victimized in this way. The secret service will undoubtedly eventually catch the "clever" person who thought up this scheme, whoever it may be, but, in the meantime, many tourists will have paid an extra dollar for their sightseeingg.
This is a year when the number of visitors in the White House has been very great and this is the season of the year when the White House employees are given their vacations, so it has meant much additional work for those on duty. In addition, many people come with a firm determination to see the rooms in which the King and Queen slept and the ushers have a very difficult time explaining to visitors that their cards do not entitle them to see rooms on the second floor of the White House. No one, except on the invitation of someone actually living in the White House, is entitled to go up on the second floor. One can understand the desire to see the part of the White House which is really lived in, for I think it is historically much more interesting and has far more atmosphere.
The State Rooms, used for entertainment alone, cannot possibly avoid being a little like a museum. Of course, if visitors were allowed to go through the second floor, there would be no privacy for the family occupying the White House. Even now it is a bit like being a goldfish swimming in his glass bowl, and that is why getting to one's own home is such a joy.
We left Hyde Park at a very early hour this morning. I am going to try to pay a short visit to the New York World's Fair this afternoon with Johnny and Anne, and Anne's mother, Mrs. Haven Clark, besides doing a number of personal errands. This evening we are going to preview the movie "They Shall Have Music," given for the benefit of the Greenwich House Music School and the High School of Music and Art. I shall tell you about it tomorrow.