OCTOBER 9, 1944
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I left Washington Friday on the night train to attend former Governor Smith's funeral. In the past few years I had seen comparatively little of the former Governor, but for many years while he was governor of New York, and particularly when he campaigned for the Presidency in 1928, I saw much of him. He did a great deal for his state, and the people of New York should be extremely grateful for the years he gave in their service.
The romance that began when he was a young man never died, and after his wife's death I think he probably had very little desire to live. His children will feel sadly bereft, because I think he was always the center of his family, and they counted on him to share their joys and their sorrows.
I have always been grateful to him personally for allowing me the experience of working with Mrs. Belle Moskowitz, who was his close adviser during the years in which he was doing the most constructive work for the people in the State of New York.
In Washington, on Friday, we held a committee meeting of the National Achievement Award, sponsored by Chi Omega, to consider the candidates for the coming year's award. Afterward, a small luncheon was given in honor of this year's recipient, Dr. Florence B. Seibert, a biochemist who has done remarkable work in research on tuberculosis. At 2:30 a larger meeting was called in the East Room, and some 75 people were present when the speeches were made and the medal presented.
The ceremony was to have taken place last spring, but had to be postponed on account of Dr. Seibert's illness. I was happy, as I always am, to have it here in the White House, since this award, which honors a woman every year, has great significance for me. Many awards are granted to men for achievement in various fields, but there are comparatively few which single out women in different fields of work and call to our attention the fact that they have achieved eminence. This award has been given in the field of the arts, of science, of government work, and of business.
I still remember Alexander Woollcott delivering an address when Katharine Cornell received the award. Miss Cornell trembled as she sat beside me, knowing that she would have to respond. At that time she confided to me that a speech was far worse than acting a part in a play, because the part was a shield between you and the public across the footlights. I was reminded of this when Ethel Barrymore came to tea with me the other afternoon, and told me how she dreaded speaking at a meeting of the OPA staff on Friday afternoon, in which she and I took part.