AUGUST 10, 1943
HYDE PARK, Monday—Sunday was a quiet day and I managed to write a good many letters and we celebrated a birthday. I enjoy all such little celebrations. When any of us have reached the mature age of 21, we continue to have only 21 candles on our cakes. No one is ever the wiser about the real age of those who are celebrating.
Years ago, one of my own children, asked me on his grandmother's birthday, who was older—Granny or me. I was a little taken aback, but now I think it is rather pleasant that to youngsters people, who really are wide apart in age, seem so much the same. I suppose it really means that they judge largely by what people do, and not by their looks.
It should be a consolation to us plain people that a child's conception of beauty, as far as the people they love are concerned, has nothing whatsoever to do with perfect features or beautiful coloring. They seem to be more sensitive to what people are and, if someone gives them love and devotion, they recognize the beauty of feeling and the sense of security it gives them. Looks have little to do with their appreciation of the person.
I am going to New York City today to meet one or two people who have been trying for some time to see me. It is always a question whether it is easier for me to come and stay for a few days in New York City, or whether it is better to have people come to Hyde Park. On the whole, I have decided when enough people have accumulated and feel there is something connected with their work they want to see me about, it is better for me to come to New York City and stay for two or three days and then return to Hyde Park.
I have been reading "The Gremlins" again to the children who have been with me. There is no doubt about it that the story with Walt Disney's illustrations is fascinating to youngsters, even a little four-year-old can enjoy it no less than his older brothers and sisters. I also got out my "Home Book of Verse" yesterday and read some of the old poems to them, on which my generation was raised. Do you remember "The Sluggard"—who liked to lie late in bed? Or "The Little Gentleman?"
I really think we have improved and do not write such utter nonsense and pious precepts for children today. There is a little poem called "Dirty Jim," which I suppose I should have read to all the little boys I have known through the years who hate to wash behind their ears and keep their hands clean, but I have a feeling that it would have had very little effect on them. So far as I can see, every generation at certain ages, has more or less the same habits, which they gradually outgrow, and poems and good precepts I fear have very little effect.