AUGUST 24, 1946
HYDE PARK, Friday—I have just finished reading "Dinner at the White House" by Louis Adamic. I always find this author interesting and stimulating. Much of what he put into "Two-Way Passage," I think, would have helped us through this post-war period, and I wish that even now some of it could be done to awaken in us, as a people, a better understanding of conditions in the rest of the world and our tie to other peoples.
Some things in this new book amuse me—for instance, the wonder Mr. Adamic expresses that two young English girls had been asked only a day ahead to come to dinner at the White House. It never occurred to me that this would seem strange to anyone! We lived in the White House as we had always lived at home. If somebody arrived with a letter from a friend, or if we remembered that we had meant to ask someone to a meal, we did so. There was rarely a meal when we did not have guests who had been asked on very short notice.
I do not remember this particular case, but I imagine I asked those girls because I had meant to see them some time or because I thought they would be interested in meeting their own Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Or perhaps one of them had come to Washington with a letter of introduction from a friend. Whenever I wanted anyone to see my husband, he or she had to be asked to dinner and was often told that the invitation was just for dinner, because my husband would have to go to work afterward and I would have some other engagement.
I rather imagine, too, that on this particular occasion, we did not know ahead just what night Mr. Churchill would come back to us after his visit in Florida. Though we were both delighted that it happened to be when Mr. and Mrs. Adamic were coming to dinner, still I think it was a happen-so.
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I am sorry that Mr. Adamic felt that Mr. Churchill was an evil influence. When Mr. Churchill and my husband first met as the leaders of their countries, I imagine there was speculation on both sides as to how they would get on. Though they had met before, they had seen very little of each other. My husband knew much, of course, about Mr. Churchill's character and public work. And probably Mr. Churchill had been primed with information about my husband for that first meeting.
There were fundamental differences in their political thinking but, in their intellectual and social background, there were many similarities. As the years went by, I think a great respect grew between the two men, and also a great affection which was purely personal and did not preclude differences of opinion on political and even military matters.
I think when Mr. Churchill called by husband "Mr. President," he was not trying to flatter any more than my husband was when he said "Mr. Prime Minister." Both of them recognized that they were playing great historic roles and that heavy responsibilities rested upon them.
No matter how much we may differ with Mr. Churchill in political philosophy—and I personally differ with him on many things—we must never forget what we owe him as a war leader and what he meant to the people of Great Britain when they were all that stood between us and Hitler.