NOVEMBER 12, 1948
PARIS, Thursday—I am sorry that President and Mrs. Truman cannot be in the White House for this coming social season and their first real inauguration. My husband and I had great affection for the White House and felt that anyone living there could not fail to feel the atmosphere during these occasions.
I've often said that men—and women, too—who had lived in that house suffered greatly, but had been proud and happy. Human emotions live through the years and are very evident in the atmosphere of old houses.
That the White House is reportedly on the verge of collapse—with bricks crumbling and stairs and ceilings about to fall—must mean very extensive renovation. I hope the repairs will not alter the structure's original beauty, but will intensify it and make for greater modern comfort.
If I remember correctly, Stanford White was the consulting engineer when changes were made during President Theodore Roosevelt's administration. Mr. Eric Gugler helped my husband and government architects when minor changes were made in the executive offices because as a young man he had been familiar with Mr. White's plans.
I have no idea who will be consulted now, but I hope any restorations and changes will be made with respect for its past history and with general affection for the house itself. The beauty of the White House is in its simplicity and proportion, which I know the architect will surely try to retain.
The White House means a great deal to the American people. They come from all over the country to visit it and are proud to realize that ever since the days of John Adams, except for a few brief periods here and there, United States' history has centered there.
Though the President and his family will miss the atmosphere and festivities of this stately old mansion during those important times in their lives, I know they will enjoy the less formal atmosphere of the Blair House.
It might even be a relief, for President Truman is going to be a very busy man if he is to put through all the things he has planned—many of which the 80th Congress has stymied until now. The social side of the Presidency is important, but it is also time-consuming.
I wish him luck in his program and I hope his short vacation will give him some of the relaxation he must sorely need.
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Yesterday, Article 16, one of the most important articles in the Declaration of Human Rights, was passed exactly as presented. It reads:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom either alone or in community with others and in public and private to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
A number of substitutions were presented, but all were rejected except for a slight compositional change recommended by the French.
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I have noticed at several parties here, that many of the evening dresses, particularly those for the younger ladies, are made without shoulder straps. There seems to be no middle-of-the-road dress; you either wear one without shoulder straps or you wear one which, much more wisely to me, comes up quite high in back and often has full-length sleeves.
That little extra material certainly gives one added protection against the cold air one feels in almost every house in Paris.