OCTOBER 2, 1940
FALL RIVER, Mass., Tuesday—We did not get started quite as soon as we had hoped yesterday morning. The mail came and it seemed foolish not to sign the letters which had been so long on the way. So, with one thing and another, it was 12:40 before we actually took to the road in holiday mood.
The skies cleared as we drove along and some of the views of distant hillsides were very lovely. One, I remember in particular; green trees climbing up to sheer red cliffs and, perched on top, two isolated houses. I suppose there are ways of reaching these houses, but they looked as cut off from human approach as any chalet in the high Alps.
I could not help thinking it would be nice to retire there for brief periods now and then—if one could find the secret path up there and one down again when one wished to return to the world with its cares and its joys.
We thought we had lost our New England roadmap, so we stopped at a gas station to get another one. Miss Thompson went in and a young gas attendant accompanied her back to the car to ask if we needed oil or water and to wish us a pleasant trip. He added: "I hope you don't come back wearing Willkie buttons." A wise warning, since we are journeying in the land of the "enemy," who seems nevertheless to be a very friendly one.
It is curious how some houses take atmosphere from the people who live in them. For instance, the room I was in last night in Westbrook, Conn., is one to which I always enjoy returning. At this season, the fire burns on the hearth and the most capacious woodbox I have ever seen stands beside it. All the pictures speak of summer, however, and a bowl of cosmos and one white rose serves notice that the garden is in bloom.
The chairs are deep and comfortable. The desk is big enough to invite you to work. There are books everywhere. In short, it is a room that is lived in and in which you could live.
I used to think it was a gift from the gods to arrange furniture to make a room attractive. I don't think so anymore. There is something, of course, in having a flair for the right place for a chair or a lamp, but that may be acquired. The thing really necessary is that someone should live in a house so that the house reflects the personality and takes on the feeling of warmth and companionable human relationships.
We were up early this morning and after breakfast and a little exercise we started off on our day's drive. This column must be sent off when only half the day is over, so I shall save the further tale of our journey till tomorrow.