MARCH 12, 1955
LONDON—At noon on Wednesday I left London by train with Mr. George Spencer for Nottingham. I have always thought the trains over here seemed small in comparison to ours, but I must say they are very comfortable and we had a very good lunch en route. At Rugby we were joined by Mrs. Spencer.
Once in Nottingham I recalled I had been there in 1942. We drove directly to the City Hall, which is a fine building, and the reception there was informal and very pleasant. The mayor greeted us warmly. All but two recipients of the Nottingham-Roosevelt Memorial Traveling Fellowship were present. Of the absentees, one was temporarily away and the other one has returned to America to live.
I saw the latter at home only a year ago, but some of these other young people I had not seen since they had been in the United States for study eight or nine years ago. They all told me that they felt the trip had been beneficial in their business and professional occupations, and that they had made certain friends with whom they still corresponded. They hope to make a film of pictures taken by the young men during their tours, and after the reception I made a recording to go with this film.
I also made a recording there for the BBC, so we did not get away until after six p.m. It was a 50-mile drive to Mr. Spencer's home and we stopped on the way to pick up his son who is learning the textile business in Leicester.
The Spencers have a delightful old house, which, because of its age, has just been put on the list of historic homes. It was not until Thursday morning that I could get a glimpse of the gardens around the house, which must be lovely in summer. Mrs. Spencer told me, though, that it was impossible now to find a gardener.
At present snow and frost cover the whole landscape, at least in the early morning. As I looked around I wondered how Englishwomen have adjusted to their lack of domestic help, because their homes require such care.
An old church is close by and the countryside is the typical English rolling landscape, with trees and sheep and cows, and neat little farmhouses here and there.
Everyone says it has been a very cold winter and spring is late in arriving. Nevertheless, the snowdrops are out, and the Spencer home was full of flowers. Every room of the house is beautifully paneled. Because of the cold and the fact that open fires give all the heat one enjoys (except for a few additional electric heaters), the doors are always kept closed. This makes the rooms seem much more intimate and protected from intrusion. Our rooms in America rarely feel this way because with central heating it is more efficient to leave all the doors open. There is no need to shut out the cold drafts.
We had a delightful dinner on Wednesday evening, and I was sorry to have to get my hosts up early on Thursday morning so that I could be back in London by 10 a.m. I took the train in Rugby and got a glimpse of Rugby School, which many of my generation remember because of the books written about the headmaster. There are about 800 boys there and 1,200 at Eton, I was told. These well-known public schools are always filled.
Back in London I found a sunny day and I enjoyed the drive to the Foreign Office where I went to deliver a letter in person to the Secretary of State, for Foreign Affairs, Sir Anthony Eden. This was an invitation to him to come to Roosevelt University in Chicago on May 25.
(Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)