NOVEMBER 2, 1953
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I got home to Hyde Park a little after 10 o'clock on Saturday evening after a most delightful trip to Woodstock, Vermont. My stormy trip to Maine made me feel we might be in for a long series of rainy days. But the weather Friday afternoon was beautiful and the flight up to Woodstock enchanting and very smooth.
I was met at the plane by the little girl I went to visit at the school there. On Saturday we were all allowed to sit in on classes, and after lunch there was a parents and faculty meeting. This is a coeducational school. The boys are divided into two houses some distance from the main school house, and the girls live in an old home nearby. In winter the boys must have some rugged walking to do.
We were privileged to see the dress rehearsal for a play, T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral," which the school was giving Saturday evening. To my surprise, I found in the cast one of my cousins whom I had not seen since she was a very little girl.
One of the teachers at the faculty meeting gave a very interesting speech outlining the aims of modern education and pointing out what should be avoided in the treatment of children. The difficulty is actually to implement these aims which most of us would agree on, but which are very hard to achieve in any kind of a school. The children all seemed happy and, as far as one could see, learning was enjoyable. There seems to be less and less emphasis on the old European-inherited disciplines. Whether the mind needs them, or not, is something I am certainly not qualified to judge. Perhaps the only really important thing is for a youngster to be made curious. Most of education is self-education, after all. If you really want to know, there are always books to learn from. But one has to use the tools, and I think one has to gain the confidence that comes with the realization that one has the capacity to master whatever one is really interested in doing. The school seems to give these things.
Sunday in Hyde Park we had the great pleasure of a short visit from the King and Queen of Greece. The State Department makes the itineraries for foreign guests with so little allowance for leisure that I often wonder if the guests find any time to enjoy themselves. For instance, I was told the party would arrive at my house at 1:30 and must be over at the library at 2:30. This necessitates the kind of luncheon which I am sure no foreign dignitary ever had before. You have all the food on everybody's plate at the table, and it is cold, though I usually manage to pass one hot dish. That means plates only have to be changed for dessert. I serve coffee and tea right at the table, since there is not time, of course, for leisurely sipping afterwards and chatting with your guests. I always ask a few neighbors in, for I feel it is more interesting to meet a few Americans when you are in their country.
But what happens is that we really bolt our food, talk to our neighbors at the table and then dash over to the library. There the poor honored guests are given a most hurried view of everything, put back into their cars and driven back to New York for some other engagements.
I often wish that their lives could be planned in more leisurely fashion, but when my husband was President I never persuaded the State Department that this could be done. In the present instance, my guests were allowed a little more leeway, for at noon a message came through from the State Department that we could have another half hour and take until 3 o'clock for our lunch.