My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Tuesday—They tell us that the population over 60 years old in this country is increasing all the time. I am in this age group and I must confess that I sometimes wonder whether science did us such a good turn when it increased our years upon this earth. However, the problem is definitely with us, so how can we make these added years as useful to our fellow human beings as possible?

Presumably, most of us over 60 have learned something from experience, we have become more patient and understanding, and therefore more tolerant. On the other hand, most of us have less joy in adventure, less flexibility, less energy and less interest in new ideas, also less faith in the benevolence of fate.

With these things in mind I have, in the past two days, watched with keen interest an old friend who seems to embody in his manner of growing old a clue to the way to do it gracefully and usefully. The Hon. Josephus Daniels arrived in New York City on Sunday morning from his home in Raleigh, N.C., telephoned me at Hyde Park, and took a noon train up the river. We were having a buffet lunch for some fourteen people. He joined us, happy and interested to see everyone.

From 3 o'clock to 5, we took him first to see the library, then to visit my husband's grave, and after that all over the farm to see what Elliott was doing with the land. His interest never flagged.

When we came home, I offered him a room in which to rest. Instead, he sat down by the fire in the living room to examine the volume of my husband's early letters to his mother. I left him reading bits aloud to Trude and Joe Lash, who were staying with me. And he was still enjoying himself in conversation when supper was announced. Later, we drove to the city, arriving about 10 o'clock, and Mr. Daniels was still keeping us all entertained with his stories!

* * *

Last night, at the presentation of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award to Bernard M. Baruch, the speech of presentation was made by Mr. Daniels—and no young man could have been more interesting or more vigorous. Warren Austin, who made one of the main speeches of the evening, offered no great contrast in vigor or vitality, though he is 15 years younger. Mr. Baruch himself, wonderful as he is at 77, cannot yet boast of the 85 years that Mr. Daniels wears so gracefully.

Mr. Daniels gave me his recipe, which I paraphrase slightly: "Keep busy; hold on to your interests; do what your children tell you when they all agree; remember that when those you love leave you, they want you to carry on with happiness." It is a good prescription because there is a minimum of time left for regrets or selfishness.

* * *

I was particularly happy to see Mr. Baruch honored last night. It seemed so fitting that he, who received much through his friendship with President Wilson but who also gave so much, should now be on the honor roll of the Woodrow Wilson foundation. Mr. Baruch is one of the few people who can feel that the honors he receives so frequently can be accepted happily, because he has richly earned them by service to his fellow men.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL