DECEMBER 19, 1940
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Our first reception of the year, the reception to the judiciary, took place last night. It brought us a comparatively small number of guests, so that our initiation was easy. Often the first reception is rather an effort, because I am not accustomed to standing and shaking hands. That was not the case last night and I noted with pleasure how much good the President has derived from his trip, for he greeted everyone in a way that showed he was really glad to see them.
Yesterday, Mrs. Anne Holliday Webb from Boston, came to lunch with me to tell me a little about the method they have been developing in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, through their Division of Museum Extension services, to increase the real understanding and appreciation of history. They use great works of art and a running commentary on the period under discussion.
Their plates on the periods which they have published so far, are very beautiful. It seems to me that this will be an extremely valuable addition to the understanding and teaching of history. Their desire is to make this material available for use in CCC camps, NYA resident projects and Army camps by putting it into movie form. Whether this can be done or not remains to be seen, but certainly it is a most stimulating idea.
Miss Edna Ferber, Mr. and Mrs. Morris Ernst, and Miss Constance Ernst, their daughter, spent the night with us. After the reception was over, Mr. Alexander Woollcott, who is also staying with us, gathered us all together in my sitting room to listen to the broadcast between Mr. Williams in England, author of "The Corn is Green" and his wife and members of the cast now acting in the play in New York City.
Miss Ethel Barrymore and various members of the cast went through some of the scenes for him. Knowing the English people, there was a lump in my throat when I heard Mr. Williams say to his wife: "Good night my love, God bless you." Times are changed and we must not waste any opportunity to show the love we have in our hearts, otherwise no Englishman would have been so demonstrative several thousand miles away.
The beauty of Miss Barrymore's voice impressed me more than ever. I could not help thinking how wonderful it is that we have an invention today which will carry to a writer at such a distance, the actual voice which is repeating his lines and interpreting them to thousands of people in a country so many miles away.
We are losing our friend, Mr. Woollcott this afternoon. Unlike the man portrayed in the play "The Man Who Came To Dinner," we can't induce him to stay any longer. Though I know he fancies himself in that particular role, as his hostess, I will have to say that in real life he is far from carrying out the character which was depicted on the stage. We have enjoyed every minute of his visit and the latchstring hangs out for the future.