JUNE 2, 1954
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—On Sunday morning we had the pleasure of having the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia visit us here at Hyde Park. He laid a wreath on my husband's grave, then paid a short visit to the home and the Memorial Library. He was much interested in my husband's variety of interests, looked at the model ships and went through the stacks where papers and books are kept.
He reached my cottage just at 1 o'clock, when the recording of his appearanee on the television program, "Youth Wants to Know," was shown. The young people had asked him many questions and he had answered them willingly and cordially. Naturally, he wanted to see and hear the recording as it was going out over the country, so for half an hour we watched television.
Since his schedule required him to be in New York City by 4:30, he had to leave here between 2:15 and 2:30. You can imagine that a buffet lunch served to 40 persons in three-quarters of an hour is rather hurried! But I think several people had a chance to talk to the Emperor while he ate; and I had a few minutes of conversation with him quietly before he left.
More and more I am impressed with how mercilessly we hurry our visitors! They must be so tired, I wonder if they can even enjoy the scenery as they drive.
I found the Emperor a most delightful person. His son is very unassuming and charming, and so is his granddaughter. In fact, I have rarely had a more enjoyable official party here. Though they were hurried, they behaved as though everything was just the way they wished it to be, and I hope they will carry away pleasant memories of their short time with us.
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While I am here in Dutchess County, I would like to tell you about the work being done by the Dutchess County Association for Mentally Handicapped Children. Anyone who has a retarded child knows how difficult it is to find opportunities for the development of such children to the maximum of their abilities.
The society here is not very old, but since their campaign for funds last September, they have raised over $13,000. They have a school for mentally handicapped children. They painted their building red and named it the Little Red Schoolhouse. Some of the children have I.Q.'s below 50, others from 50 to 75. As you know, there is no provision in the public schools for children whose I.Q.'s are below 50. There are special classes occasionally for them but they seem to get on faster in a school of their own. At one time, people thought such children could never learn to do anything for themselves, and yet many of them have learned to read and to partake in games and other activities, such as dancing.
Just one experience will illustrate what can happen. A boy called Danny, heavyset, came to the school in January, 1953. He was tense, ran heavily, and could not do simple physical exercises. Now he can skip, hop, run, is relaxed, and can do nearly all the simple exercises.
It is much better for these children to learn to help themselves and to rely as far as possible on themselves, not entirely on their parents. They must have teachers who are well trained and patient. But in this kind of a school, they do learn. And how thankful all of us must be whenever work like this is going on.