AUGUST 14, 1939
HYDE PARK, Sunday—When I saw the President off yesterday morning, he said joyfully: "I think I shall spend most of the first few days sleeping." It is curious that when the compulsion of "doing things" is taken from us, we think so quickly of our freedom in terms of being able to sleep as long as we want. Next, most of us think about what activities we may engage in that have nothing to do with our usual work habits. Here, again, we rejoice that no one will interfere with us and bring us compulsory work.
The last few minutes at the house yesterday morning were certainly busy. Mr. Hassett stood outside of the President's door with some mail to sign, waiting while he talked long distance with the State Department. Miss LeHand was talking on another telephone. Finally, everyone was in the car and I certainly hope that as they separated for their various vacations, they all realized to the full that sense of freedom which is the greatest joy of a vacation.
After the President leaves, the big house becomes a silent, empty place. There is one guard at the gate and one by the house, outside of that there is no life anywhere. I left promptly for the cottage where, by 1:00 o'clock, a very pleasant group of people gathered. Some of them came a little ahead of time and had a swim, and then we ate lunch under the trees and drove around the place before they left in the afternoon.
Thanks to Miss Thompson, we had a dish I never tried here and which proved very popular. Often up in Maine, on our picnics on various beaches, we have built driftwood fires and stood our kettles on some stones and made a fish chowder of whatever fish we caught, or could buy from fishermen we passed. The favorite fish up there for this is pollock, but that seems to be an unknown fish in the markets here, so we bought halibut instead, and it certainly made a good chowder, even though we didn't have Maine air to sharpen our appetities.
Just before the sun went down, I had a swim and we spent a quiet evening reading and writing. I have begun on my Christmas lists and so Miss Thompson was busy making out lists of what must be ordered and what I must buy personally. I have decided to use the same type of Christmas card we have used the last few years. It is so hard for the President to find time to sit for a new photograph, and so the little card we have been using, while not of any particular significance, is simple and attractive and will do service for another year.
The last thing, before I went to bed, I listened to the 11:00 o'clock news over the radio. I can't say that the foreign news sounded very encouraging. How different our situation is when the man at the head of the government can leave on a vacation, instead of conferring in a remote and fortified mountain spot and sending those with him away, looking serious and troubled. The fate of the world seems to lie in the hands of one man.