APRIL 18, 1952
NEW YORK, Thursday—Instead of going to the Human Rights Commission meeting on Wednesday morning, where the work up to now has been moving slowly, I took the train to Hyde Park to attend the funeral of Mr. William Plog, who had worked for my mother-in-law and then for my husband as superintendent of the Hyde Park place. Mr. Plog stayed on when we turned the place over to the government and continued to do the flowers in the house, just as he had always done them for my mother-in-law, and to superintend the gardens, particularly the rose gardens which he had always loved.
It is rare that someone works in one job for nearly 55 years. Mr. Plog was 30 years old when he came and 84 when he died. He was a faithful and loyal employee. He had seen my husband grow up from a young boy and he was always fond of him. I was glad that I could be at the funeral and that my cousin, Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson, was at home and able also to go to the funeral.
55 years is a long time to be associated with anybody as closely as one is with those who live on the same place. Mr. Plog will be missed very much because he was active almost right to the end. At 84 it probably is fortunate, though, when one has to die, to do so without suffering or too long an illness. The men who worked with him were devoted to him, for he was a good and kind person. It will seem very strange to me to go over to the old place and not see his familiar face and hear his warm and friendly greeting.
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I returned to New York City in the afternoon but I had been long enough in the country to see that spring is really beginning to come. The willows are out and the daffodils are almost ready to bloom. I took a walk in the woods with Tamas, and for the first time it felt really as though spring were with us to stay.
On the way up in the train I read a book called, "Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Man of Destiny" by David C. Weingast. This is a biography for high school students, written by a teacher who found that the knowledge of the period of history from 1928 to 1945 was practically forgotten by the young people of today who had not lived through it.
I am impressed with the accuracy and the careful research which must have gone into this book. It is far more accurate than the usual biography and while it is, of course, not comprehensive, it gives a very good digest of that period. It is very readable and I am very glad that it is available to the teenagers of today.
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From England I was sent the other day the manuscript of a very remarkable book. I don't know whether it is going to be published here, but I certainly think it should be. Its value would be inestimable to anyone who has to undergo physical or mental pain and readjust physically and mentally to handicaps which are going to change life completely.
One sentence is particularly revealing: "My mind is like a rough sea, torn between self-pity, nostalgia, and despair."
The introduction opens with these words: "One day in the summer of 1946 the editor of Reynolds' News said to me in that sudden way in which editors announce miracles, "We found a man with no arms working down a coal mine." I made the appropriately incredulous noises. "He was a paratrooper," the editor went on, 'He lost both arms at Arnheim; he lost an eye, too."
It is an artless book; no professional wrote it, but it is the life and spirit of a man and well worth reading. I hope "Lease of Life," which is the manuscript title, by Andrew Milbourne, will be published in this country.