JANUARY 9, 1940
WASHINGTON, Monday—I hated to see Anna and John leave yesterday afternoon. It made the family seem very small at supper last night. I was all alone at breakfast this morning, so I went up to get my youngest grandson to keep me company, but even he seemed to sense that something was wrong, for he wouldn't stay by himself on the floor, but wanted to be held all the time. However, today at lunch, Sistie and Buzz came back. Now they are out enjoying the snow back of the White House and they will give that added touch of family which their small brother missed this morning.
When they all go at the end of this week, we shall indeed be bereft. Franklin, Jr. and Ethel will also be leaving us soon with their little boy, and the old house will return to dignified silence until some more children come to wake it up.
At lunch yesterday, I discovered that Mr. Dale Carnegie is a Lincoln enthusiast, so I showed him all I could of interest about Lincoln in the White House. I find that all the people who really have studied that period of our history are much interested in the new portrait which hangs in the State Dining Room. They are all struck by the thoughtful, contemplative expression and the humorous look about the mouth. It was that sense of humor which kept Lincoln going, because under the gaunt and rough exterior there was such a very soft heart.
A lovely concert this morning in Mrs. Townsend's series, at which Mr. Melchior and Madame Lotte Lehmann sang. It was almost the biggest audience I have ever seen at these concerts and the artists well deserved the prolonged applause.
I have a letter written me on an airplane by a lady who is on her way back to California. She found in Washington, D. C.: "Dirty newspapers and crumpled bags blowing along the streets and lodged in corners less than two blocks from the Supreme Court Building." She feels we should "provide containers of interesting design and that organizations, citizens, housewives and school children will then become sidewalk conscious and will cooperate in keeping their city beautiful." "I cringe" says she, "when I think how this must impress representatives from other beautiful cities of the world where good civic housekeeping is required."
I wish we might be the cleanest most orderly city in the world. On the whole, I thought Washington did fairly well. It certainly compares well with London, or Paris or Rome. Perhaps cities in Germany and Holland are a little more "shiny," but that is because generations have been taught a sense of responsibility for their public places. I imagine that this nation will have to set itself to the task of civic cleanliness more seriously than it has in the past in order to compete.