APRIL 5, 1948
LONDON, Sunday—When we docked at Southampton the other day, the Mayor of Southampton, with his gold mace carried before him, came aboard ship to greet us. It is certainly impressive to be a mayor in this country, where you wear robes and a beautiful chain as insignia of your office. The mayor and his wife were such kind, warm people that we really enjoyed our few minutes together, even when photographers kept demanding that we smile or shake hands or make conversation!
I'm not having any formal press conference until after the unveiling of the statue of my husband and the opening of Grosvenor Square to the public on April 12, for until then my doings will be of a more or less personal nature. However, a battery of cameras was focussed on us when we arrived at our hotel here in London and again the next morning when we went out to have our first glimpse of Grosvenor Square.
The landscape architect, Mr. Gallineau, was there to greet us and I was perfectly delighted with his whole conception of this memorial. He said: "I thought the late President was particularly interested in people, and so, as far as possible, I've made it inviting for people to come close to his statue and enjoy the square."
I shall wait until after the dedication ceremonies to describe it all for you as, of course, I have not yet seen the statue itself. However, they made me rehearse what I will have to do, pulling down the flags which will shroud the statue on the twelfth. They said I must be prepared to give a really vigorous pull. The first time I tried, nothing happened. The second time I was successful in breaking the string which had been tied to give the same amount of tension that I will actually have on the twelfth.
It reminded me a little of the feeling one has when launching a ship. They always make you very "comfortable" beforehand by telling you it is bad luck if the bottle does not break! I remember one occasion when it did not break for me the first time and the ship was rapidly going down the ways. I seized the bottle with both hands and flung it against the side. The ship was well christened, and I well soaked with champagne!
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The British people are very warm and welcoming in their attitude. Everywhere we have been greeted with smiles and waving hands, which make us feel we are welcome guests. When one knows the difficulties which every individual housewife or worker has to meet day by day, one marvels at the staunchness of the British people and the fact that they can smile.
I've asked Ambassador Lewis Douglas if I might send him some of the letters which already are beginning to come in. Last time I was here, I was deluged with letters from English girls who wanted to get to the United States to join their American husbands. So far this time, the letters are from parents whose daughters are happily married and settled somewhere in the United States, and who wish to join them. One lady wishes to go to the State of Washington, another to Iowa, and for some reason they have not been successful. I often wonder if they have any realization of the distances they will have to travel after they arrive in the United States, but I suppose their daughters will advise them of all details before they start.
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I was relieved to hear that Congress eliminated the amendment which proposed that Spain should be included in the Marshall Plan. That would seem a serious thing to do when the United Nations specifically has not recognized Spain and has excluded that country from its various committees and commissions. It would also have meant considerable delay because there would have had to be a survey of Spain's needs and an allocation of funds which had not been foreseen. It seems to me that our greatest effort should be bent on doing nothing which would delay actual getting under way of economic plans made for the 16 European countries which are working together.