DECEMBER 16, 1955
NEW YORK—I had the great pleasure of driving across the new Tappan Zee Bridge that crosses the Hudson River from Nyack to Tarrytown and is a link in the Thruway to Buffalo.
I had never been on the Thruway before and we drove a short distance on it. It is certainly a mode of rapid transportation and very cleverly engineered to try to do away with some of the difficulties that straight parkways create. An effort has been made to overcome these with carefully engineered curves and rises.
One can go so steadily at the same speed on many straight highways that some people find it hard to keep awake. Some drivers advise that if you are alone to turn the radio on really loud and not to play soft music. The engineers of the Thruway told me, however, they had thought of this and tried, by creating different levels and widening the middle part of the road in different places, to make enough variety to break the monotony.
They still say, however, it is wise to stop about once an hour and walk around your car or stop to get a cup of coffee.
The bridge itself across the Hudson is quite low for part of the way where the river is shallow, and as it follows the contour of the land it curves. This makes it very attractive. It is high enough where it rises for an ocean-going steamer to pass underneath it.
The construction of this bridge presented some very serious difficulties. To reach the rock in some places the engineers had to go down 300 feet below the level of the river bed, and they used a clever device of floating concrete in other places to carry some of the weight of the steel.
On the whole it is a very remarkable engineering feat, and as it crosses at the Tappan Zee, which is one of the most beautiful places in the Hudson River, a special effort was made to design a railing to permit a view in both directions. I have always found it tantalizing to cross a bridge and not be able to see over the parapet, so I was particularly glad to notice this innovation.
At one point from the bridge you can look down the river and see the New York City skyline, and on a clear day you can see the outline of the George Washington Bridge.
On the way back to Hyde Park I stopped to see my old friend, Mrs. Sherwood, in Cornwall. She lives in a house that is over 100 years old, where her father lived before her. It is filled with family heirlooms, curious old pictures that have great charm, and delightfully comfortable furniture that has been used for generations—a home in every sense of the word.
Mrs. Sherwood is 92, and last month she climbed the highest mountain in the neighborhood! She said, as if to apologize, she did it more slowly than on her last trip. She does all her own housework except for a woman who vacuums once a week. She feeds the family well and bakes homemade bread, and has lately taken up making pottery, which she enjoys.
She is interested in all the world, and is as alert and quick as many of my younger friends. Old age is gracious when you can remain young!