DECEMBER 28, 1943
HYDE PARK, Monday—I thought last evening that we were really going to have a touch of snowy weather and the children were all excited at the thought of having some coasting. But it turned out to be sleet and the roads became icy, which today has turned to slush.
Unexpectedly, the President had to return to Washington. He could stay long enough to meet and talk with the soldiers and to enjoy a short entertainment by Mr. Paxton, who has the most remarkable memory I have ever known. It was amusing to hear the soldiers call out the name of the city from which they came and to hear Mr. Paxton rattle off all the facts about that city—the names of the newspapers, the railroads, the hotels, the movie houses and the chief industries.
The boys gave him a tremendous hand. The President was as much entertained by his feats of memory as the boys were. It was really a most successful evening. The ice cream and cake also seemed to be much appreciated and I decided that soldiers have as good appetites as have my own boys.
It is amusing to me to hear the boys in the armed services, returned from the far corners of the earth, gloat over some of the foods they have been unable to have for long months. For instance, one of Franklin, Jr.'s, friends, who spent last night with us, was just back from the Southwest Pacific. When I offered him a glass of milk, he said: "No thanks, I don't want to become accustomed to something I can't have when I go back. But it was just wonderful to have fresh eggs and this chicken. I haven't had chicken in over a year."
Franklin, Jr., in telling us about the first days after their ship was dive bombed and brought into a port in Sicily, remarked on how scant their foods were. Knowing his usual, hearty appetite, I noticed with joy his appreciation of the pheasants which we had for dinner, and which were a Christmas gift to my husband from one of his old friends up here, Mr. John Mack.
Fala returned to his master as soon as we got up here. While the President was away, Fala visted with a young friend of his, a lady scottie who belongs to Miss Margaret Suckley, one of our neighbors in Rhinebeck. Fala seemed quite pleased to see his master again, but he missed his companion and looked very dejected when he was put all by himself in his pen on the lawn.
Now he is going to have a little dachshund for a companion during the next few weeks, since my daughter-in-law, Mrs. John Roosevelt, and her children will be here with us with their pet in Washington. It was good to have our son here even for such a short visit, but I felt sorry for them all when he said a last good-night to his little boy and baby girl. As you see this come to each young family, and you think of the thousands to whom it is coming throughout the country; it seems no longer to be a personal grief but one compounded by the many sorrows that face the country as a whole.