DECEMBER 16, 1949
HYDE PARK, Thursday—It is wonderful to be back in the country for two whole days in the middle of the week. The dogs and I had a grand walk this morning and found that our little feeder brooks actually have some running water in them at last. But we haven't nearly enough to feel that our springs are filled up for the winter as they should be before the deep frosts settle on us. So I hope for much more rain or snow quickly.
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I might as well own up to the fact that to please my son, Elliott, I have broken all my vows and finally am sitting for a portrait done by Douglas Chandor. He did a wonderful portrait of my mother-in-law when she was an old lady. And while I hope that this portrait of me will be kept from public view until after I am dead, I have to acknowledge that he is a remarkable painter and that my grandchildren will find in me much more that is pleasant and agreeable to look at in an ancestor than really exists! One must look on a portrait as something to make future generations feel that they do not have to be too much ashamed of their forebears.
I like looking at the portraits of my great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Ludlow, and even though I realize they were human beings with plenty of faults I cannot help being interested in the character which is unmistakable in my great-grandmother. There are many stories about her that bear out the fact that she was a lady of firm determination. I imagine at times she tried her family sorely. My great-grandfather has a sweetness in his face which he must have needed many times. I wish I had known him, but he died before I was born.
I like having my Grandfather Roosevelt's portrait. My children used to object to it at times because they said his eyes followed you about the room and if they had done anything wrong it made them feel guilty to have his wise, kind eyes fixed upon them. He was a good businessman, but the newsboys' clubs and the orthopaedic hospital, for which he got the first subscriptions, bear witness to the fact that he was deeply interested in his fellow human beings. That is unmistakable in his portrait.
Mr. Chandor tells me, in order to make me a little more cheerful when I have to sit for him, that what he is doing is not for the present but for future generations, and, after all, I don't have to look at it forever. I wouldn't mind looking at it at all if I felt that it really represented reality and not the idealistic view which one should hand down to posterity. I would not have consented to be painted at all except by Mr. Chandor and for one of my own children and I am not going to do it again. The French have a saying, "L'appetit vent en mangeant," which means your appetite grows as you eat. Mine, so far as sitting for portraits goes, is completely unchanged.