JANUARY 13, 1953
NEW YORK, Monday—Because of the miserable weather over the weekend we all decided not to go to the country, so I took my two grandchildren, Haven and Nina, to Roosevelt Memorial House at 28 East 20th Street. Mrs. Joseph Lash brought her son Jonathan to meet us and we went through the house, beginning with the nursery on the second floor.
I had had the great privilege many years ago of going through that house, which was the birthplace of my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt. At that time I was with my aunt, Mrs. Douglas Robinson. So, on last Saturday I tried to remember all the stories she used to tell us.
The covered porch at the back is the place where Theodore Roosevelt started to make a fight for a strong physique. He was such a delicate child and suffered so much from asthma. Even in those early days he followed a routine of exercises with dumbbells and Indian clubs. When the horrible asthma would overtake him, making him struggle for every breath, his family would take him to some other climate in the hope of getting rid of the affliction. He did not overcome it until he was nearly a grown man.
There is also the story of his saying his prayers, as a little boy, to his mother's half-sister. This half-sister later became Mrs. James K. Gracie, a great aunt whom we all adored as children. She must have really suffered in those early days when she and her mother were sheltered in their Northern son-in-law's house when all of their interests were wrapped up in the South. The story of the prayer was that little Theodore prayed for the success of the Northern army and his aunt was beside herself in tears. His mother heard him from the corridor and came in to reprove him for being so thoughtless and unkind. His answer silenced her, for he said: "But, mother, I thought I could tell the truth to God."
Down on the second floor the middle room has the old horsehair furniture of that day and I could remember Auntie Corinne telling us how much as children the horsehair scratched their legs and how they squirmed and were reproved by their father. She even remembered the Bible verses she had first read aloud as a child in that room.
We went through the museum side of the house also, and the children were interested to see some things similar to what I have and which they had seen at home. For instance, there are some samples of the pink and white china that belonged to my grandmother Roosevelt, who was their great-great-grandmother.
It is a little confusing to them, however, to follow the family lineage that leads back to Theodore Roosevelt Sr. on my father's side and on my husband's side to Isaac Roosevelt. There is one less generation on his side and that is also confusing, and to work out that their grandfather, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and I were fifth cousins once removed is a real problem in higher mathematics.
If you live in a city apartment I can recommend a new cookbook that has just come into my hands. It is called, "The Can Opener Cook Book" and it tells you every short cut that will still allow you to have good food quickly. And you do not have to be a very experienced cook. Poppy Cannon, whom you often hear on the radio, is the author. I am sure you will find it interesting and useful.