JANUARY 5, 1942
WASHINGTON, Sunday—I had a rather long meeting here Friday evening, but the President and the Prime Minister worked even later. When the President finally decided to go to bed, the Prime Minister still decided to go into the map room and to work a little longer.
There is no question about it, when you are deeply interested, it is possible to go on working till all hours of the night. But, for the people who have to wait up till you are through, it is a deadly performance. I was amused to look at the various people sitting out in the hall, they all looked so obviously ready for a good long sleep!
Yesterday, I spent the morning at the Office of Civilian Defense and saw a great many people. I took some of them home to lunch or I'd still be there. In the afternoon, I went up to see Secretary and Mrs. Morgenthau's new house, which I have not had time to visit since they moved in some months ago.
Another little grandson arrived yesterday morning. It is characteristic of the times that Ruth's mother, Mrs. Googins, in wiring me of the happy event, says she is wiring Elliott at the field where he was stationed, but did I know whether he was still there? We now have twelve grandchildren and eight of them are boys, which adheres to the old tradition, that in war time, the male sex predominates.
I received yesterday a copy of a rather distressing letter which had been sent to the President by a resident of one of the South American countries. In it, he points out how extremely careless we are in talking and writing about our impressions of Spanish-America. He mentions the fact that one of our well-known writers spent about 48 hours in each of the Latin-American countries and then wrote a book, the title of which implied that he really had intimate knowledge of these countries.
He betrays his ignorance by characterizing one of the greatest heroes of South America as an adventurer, which is tantamount to considering one of our historical figures as unimportant and lacking in any claim to fame. The South American then goes on to point out that another writer, in an article on another South American country, only talked with a few people in the main city and never saw any of the rest of the country!
I must say that a letter of this kind always makes me feel ashamed of our calm assumption that we can learn all there is to know about other people without making any real effort to understand them or their culture.