SEPTEMBER 30, 1939
NEW YORK, Friday—Since certain gentlemen saw fit to take me up a short time ago on a few words, which I will agree were open to varied interpretation, I must record that as usual the miracle may be an accomplished fact! I said that the President thought the old barn at Hyde Park could be remodeled for a sum far smaller than the rest of us thought adequate. Well, ingenuity has found a way whereby the barn may be transformed into a two-family dwelling, and the sum which I thought too small will amply cover this. So my husband has the laugh on me. It isn't the first time that has happened!
I can't help, however, being much flattered that this simple diary should draw so much attention, from such important gentlemen, even on an unimportant item.
I told you yesterday that I would give you more detail of how I spent my day. First, I went up to the Manhattan Storage house to see a most interesting collection of American Historical portraits belonging to the estate of the late Mr. Percy Rockefeller. There I was pleased to meet the members of the Washington Fine Arts Commission. Since Mr. Moore has retired, I have not had the pleasure of coming in contact with the present chairman, and the other members of the commission have always been vague, but very important, figures in the background, as far as I was concerned.
To find our friend, Mr. Paul Manship, is one of the vague figures gives me great confidence, for I have always looked upon this commission with much awe! The reason for this is that they can at any time step in and object to whatever changes I might want to make in the formal rooms at the White House!
They are much interested in this collection because there has long been a hope that somewhere in Washington there might be established a national portrait gallery. Here is the nucleus of a marvelous collection.
I was most fascinated by the paintings of George Washington's ancestors and enjoyed all the others, many of which were very unfamiliar. I confess to finding, with rather a shock, one of George Washington himself with red hair. But I understand better why he held out at Valley Forge!
There is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln with a very wonderful expression, which must have been done toward the end of the Civil War because the suffering is so clearly marked. But I must stop, for there are too many of interest in this collection to enumerate them all. I can only say that I hope someday they will be in Washington to add to the store of the nation's richness.
In the afternoon I went to a reception given by the Women Sculptors and Painters and I wish I had had time to look at more of the work in the galleries, which appeared so interesting. I love Brenda Putnam's contributions, which won the popular prize for sculpture. I think she grows stronger and surer every year and I hope she knows how much real inspiration her work gives to some of us.
I visited the World's Fair for several hours, but I have no space to tell you about it today. So perhaps that can wait until later.