JULY 10, 1957
HYDE PARK—It was a shock to hear of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge's death, for I had not known she was ill. Perhaps she was not ill for long but was one of these fortunate ones who die quickly without illness or pain. I hope so.
I never knew her well, but the few times we met remained in my mind as pleasant memories.
Once, when her husband was Governor of Massachusetts and mine was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, we landed with President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in Boston and at lunch I sat by the Governor. He never spoke, and I still remember with gratitude Mrs. Coolidge's charm and sweetness as she tried to remove the strain of silence. She must have done the same thing for her husband hundreds of times, for he was a man of few words and never was embarrassed by silence.
As a young woman I remember hearing that Mrs. Coolidge taught in a school for the deaf. As I watched her in Washington, I thought how gentle and persevering she must have been. Some of the things one heard about the President made one feel that these qualities of Mrs. Coolidge must have stood her in good stead as a wife.
When one lives in the White House, one hears much about one's predecessors. So, of course, I heard from many sources about Mrs. Coolidge. But no one who worked in the White House ever spoke of her except in praise. To succeed in creating so much friendship is a remarkable achievement.
Since her husband's death she had lived in Northhampton, Mass., and in a quiet way had kept on with her interests and acted so that all spoke of her with affection and admiration. She will be sadly missed by her family and friends and as well by the people of our country, who have always kept a warm spot in their hearts for her as one of the best-loved First Ladies of the United States.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Reuther have spent two nights with me here and I have enjoyed every minute of their visit. Mr. Reuther is concerned, as the Quakers say, about many of the things which concern me. For instance, as automation increases, how are our workers to feel creative satisfaction in their work?
As machines do more and more and men act more as tenders of machines, men must use their leisure time for creative work. More leisure time will require more education and the need is to begin planning for this now.
The more I think of leisure-time problems, the more I see the importance of better-trained teachers. Properly directed, more leisure could mean that more people could learn more about the world in which we live and understand the values of democracy better. The teachers could give more time to developing better, more intelligent and useful citizens. This would be a great gain for our country.