NOVEMBER 21, 1939
WASHINGTON, Monday—The ceremonies at the laying of the cornerstone yesterday were very simple and very nice. Both Mr. MacLeish, the Librarian of Congress, and Mr. Connor, the archivist, spoke very delightfully. Except for the fact that the people outside had a very cold time, the laying of the cornerstone went off without a hitch.
Before the ceremonies, many people came into the house to shake hands with the President and have a word with him. Just as everyone was leaving the house, I heard a crash and discovered that one of the card tables around which some people were sitting, had collapsed and all the china had fallen to the floor! It was too bad to break the china, but I had to laugh, remembering the table which collapsed when the King and Queen were with us. We must have something collapse apparently when we are having parties! Much less china, however, was broken on this occasion.
The rector, Mr. Wilson, and his wife and little boys were with us for lunch. I was amused to have the one sitting beside me finish everything that he had to eat and then, having eaten a goodly portion of ice cream and cake, turn to me and say: "May I eat some of the crackers?"
A dish of crackers was on the table, destined for those who had begun their meal with chowder. The small boy had scorned that, but after everything else was over, I imagine he felt he must fill up with these, the only things left to attract his attention.
At tea time, a bust of the President, done by a French artist who had never seen him, was presented by Mrs. Cramer, who had bought it after it had been exhibited in the French Pavilion at the World's Fair. It will go into the new library. Then Mr. Billings, the artist who is doing the decorations for the Wappingers Falls, New York, post office, came to tell the President about some of his ideas for the paintings. He brought an old painting, which I thought quite fascinating, showing the mills about the creek when Wappingers Falls was really an active industrial spot. These old paintings may not be remarkable as art, but they certainly are interesting.
After that, Mr. Bernard Kohn, who had been making a clock for the past six years, for the President, came with his son to present it. It is a double timepiece which registers both Pacific and Eastern Standard time. I shall be able to look at it and know just what time it is in Seattle and Los Angeles. This will probably be a relief to my children there, whom I might call at untimely hours. The President occasionally wishes that some of the people who call him up from Europe would remember the difference in time in this country.
We came down last night to Washington on the night train and found a gray and chilly day down here with most of the leaves blown off the trees. This is a particularly full day with very little time to sit and think about world affairs, which give one a sense of depression in any case.