My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—On Monday we arrived in Holland. We landed at the airport near Amsterdam on time and were taken to the Burgomaster's house. Almost at once we set forth on a boat trip along the canals—these waterways are very picturesque. When we came into the harbor I was astonished to see the number of shipyards hard at work. According to the Burgomaster, shipping activity is up to 90 percent of their prewar capacity. Certainly the contrast between the cities and the countryside as one saw it two years ago and as one sees it today, is most striking.

A great deal of reconstruction and building has been done outside of Amsterdam, but there is still an acute shortage of housing in this country. No one can build a house in excess of the allotted cubic space assigned, according to the number of people. They cannot have more than a certain number of rooms and, if they have more, they are obliged to take in billeters.

There is no doubt in my mind as to the marked development of the ECA program, and how Marshall Plan funds have contributed both to their living conditions and rebuilding the country for the future.

On Tuesday we visited the Island of Tholen. This is a poor part of Holland but it was certainly in gala dress. All the people in the little town were out to greet us before the city hall. We went through the old Roosevelt House and then to the city hall, where speeches were made by several Burgomasters who claim to have connections with the Roosevelt family.

We were presented with souvenirs and had a very pleasant picnic luncheon with them. It was the first time that I ate the famous Dutch delicacy of raw fresh herring just slightly salted. The cherries are just ripe and where you see a flag flying by an orchard you may stop, pay a small sum, and pick and eat as many cherries as you wish!

After lunch we visited the old church where there is a silver font basin given by a member of the Roosevelt family, and a chandelier given by another member of the family who was a teacher in this little town. Roosevelts from the whole area came to greet us, some thirty or forty strong, but, unfortunately, they could not speak a great deal of English so our conversations were limited.

A few of the women wore the native costume of Tholen which is really very attractive, particularly the headdress. Finally we drove home through some interesting little towns and villages, through Rotterdam and on to The Hague. We spent the night there after attending a reception given by the Ambassador. The following morning we left by car for lunch in Brussels and reached Luxembourg in the late afternoon.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL