DECEMBER 28, 1940
WASHINGTON, Friday—I had a most unique experience yesterday afternoon. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss have turned their house and grounds, known as Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, over to Harvard University. They invited me to bring my mother-in-law, Mrs. James Roosevelt and Mrs. J. R. Roosevelt to see the house before they, themselves, left it.
Here is a collection of books and objects of art from about the second century up to the fifteenth or sixteenth century. For me, the dominating thing in the museum section is the bronze prancing horse which is so full of life and action.
I can imagine nothing more delightful than being a student at Dumbarton Oaks. The atmosphere surrounding the student will be simple and severe, but he will have a wealth of books, textiles and beautiful things around him. I am sure that any professor given an opportunity to teach in these surroundings, will find it very inspiring and that living in the house will be comfortable and conducive to study.
Bishop Atwood came to tea. Our rather large household straggled in and out and, just before dinner, Franklin, Jr., and one of his friends and I had a grand swim.
At 8:00 o'clock, the Secretary of the Treasury and Mrs. Morgenthau, with Joan and Bob, and some other young debutantes and their escorts, came to dine. At 10:00 o'clock promptly, most of the guests were assembled and we received in the Blue Room before the dance. The President greeted all of the first rush of arrivals, but I fear he missed those who came late.
I was sorry he could not have stayed away from work long enough to watch the young people dance. We seem to have gone back this year to full tulle skirts, and they certainly add to the charm of the picture on the dance floor. The many colors in the dresses of the girls made the beautiful East Room look like a summer flower garden, and never for a minute did the spirits of our guests seem to flag. That is why I like debutante parties, they have such a good time.
Even the members of the orchestra seemed to enjoy themselves. They were particularly kind to me, for they played many waltzes which I noticed the young people are enjoying too these days. The conga seems to be a very popular dance, which I had not seen before. It gives a real opportunity for acting as well as dancing and I enjoyed watching the way the various boys and girls danced it.
Franklin, Jr., Henry and Bob Morgenthau decided that a party always left a happier memory if it came to an end when everybody was still having a good time, so at 3:00 o'clock the orchestra played "Good Night Ladies." No one paid any attention, and finally Sidney and his orchestra played the "Star Spangled Banner," so that everyone had to stop dancing and join the singing. That ended what, for me, was a delightful evening.