My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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SAMARKAND, USSR—We lunched with U.S. Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson at the Spaso House in Moscow which is the American embassy. The US is fortunate to have this house for it is well arranged for entertainment and apparently well built.

The luncheon was given for a delegation of U.S. doctors studying public health in the Soviet Union and for the chief Soviet officials dealing with medicine.

I was delighted to meet Dr. Thomas Parran again. I see him only at rare intervals and wish it could be oftener. Our public health people and one gentleman from Harvard University who speaks Russian fluently all seem to have had an interesting trip concentrating on work in public health and sanitation.

Dr. David Gurewitsch and I have looked at other aspects of health here which come closer to the lives of people but I think our joint observations may be mutual—quite fascinating. The only helpful American tourist I have met is Sen. Allen J Ellender of Louisana who is paying his third visit to this country. He has promised to send me his reports for he certainly has seen an astonishing large amount both on his other trips and this one.

Quite naturally Sen. Ellender is concentrating on the Russian agriculture and he is grieved that Nikita S. Khrushchev Soviet Communist party chief, seems to pay no attention to some of his warnings based on our experiences in the United States. Unfortunately politicians sometimes have to treat even agriculture politically rather than with an eye to the future for best land development.

I visited the Institute of Foreign Languages that afternoon and found the methods used there quite facinating. The institute concentrates on European languages and has a separate division for Asiatic languages.

We left Moscow at 10 am for Tashkent in Central Asia in a Russian-built jet plane that looked sleek and efficient.

I was struck by the fact that the plane stewardess wore no uniform. We were served a kind of supper but I already was trying to sleep and felt I wouldn't need anything after our dinner (I find oneself pressed to eat a great deal in the Soviet Union which helps in withstanding the winter cold but is certainly unnecessary in the summertime)

Our 2,000 mile flight was accomplished in three and a half hours[.] We left on time and arrived in Tashkent ahead of time and were driven out to a kind of country place where they have individual apartments. There we found ourselves very comfortable, slept, briefly breakfasted and started to drive around the town with the assistant to the architect of the new town.

Tashkent is some 1,200 years old. When Russians took it over it was divided into two parts—one inhabited by native Uzbecks the other by Russians. Since the 1917 revolution we were told, the entire city has been in the process of being rebuilt.

The streeets are being widened and the old clay houses gradually being destroyed as new modern apartments are built. We drove through one small area where the old town with its narrow streets still can be visualized and it is hard to believe what changes have been wrought in such a short time.

During the morning we stopped at a conservatory of college level where voice, composition, symphony and all kinds of instruments are taught. I would have like to have heard more students perform, but we had time only to hear one or two play on old instruments a song and a little of the symphony orchestra. We were told that many of these old insturments are being reconstructed so as to make modern music playable on them.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and then at 3:30 pm visited the minister of health.

Our object here is slightly different than it was in Moscow as we'd like to see primarily how the central plans made in Moscow are actually carried out.

The people here are so hospitable, however, that when you visit them their tables are so laden with every kind of fruit grown here (it grows in great abundance) with cookies, candy and tea it is difficult for one to explain that what you are really here for is to see how theories are being carried out.

Dr. Gurewitsch managed to visit hospitals during the entire morning. I first was obliged to call on the ministers of culture and education spending an hour with them before I was able to leave and visit boarding school.

This is the latest development in Soviet education and 12 have been opened in Tashkent. The one I saw had 300 pupils and there are far more applicants than there are room for. These schools are free to most pupils while the better-off parents pay small fees. There the child gets food, books, clothes and an education.

It is voluntary of course whether you send your child to a boarding school or a day school and if parents work their child is cared for in the day school until his mother gets home. By next year, I was told, they expect to have 19 boarding schools in the Tashkent area.

I rejoined Dr. Gurewitsch and after lunch we visited one of the nurseries where children from one month old to three years are taken care of during the day. We then visited a clinic for well children and their mothers. There is much emphasis here on prevention of disease or keeping people well which is interesting as far as child care is concerned. I never saw healthier babies than in these two institutions.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 25 September 1957