My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I think I must go back a little and tell you of a journey I took last Thursday.

Our executive committee meeting at the American Association for the United Nations lasted until five p.m. By that time, you may remember, the storm was getting pretty bad.

I had asked my own car to come down from Hyde Park to pick up Professor Arthur N. Holcombe and myself and take us to a conference on disarmament at Arden House, in Harriman, N.Y. In mid-afternoon my driver telephoned to say he had skidded on the parkway, and would not be able to get the car repaired until the next morning.

As always when I have said I would go, I felt an obligation to try to arrive at my destination. So, Professor Holcombe being an adventurous soul, I telephoned Roosevelt Zander, from whom I frequently get cars when I need them in New York City. He agreed to drive us to Harriman himself, and said that if we left at five o'clock we should make it by seven-thirty, in spite of the weather.

Since that meant we would be there in plenty of time for the evening session, I even toyed with the idea of stopping somewhere along the way for something to eat! As we progressed, however, the storm grew worse.

The Thruway ceased to look like a Thruway. We began to pass trucks off the road, and soon the cars going in either direction were none too frequent. At seven-thirty we actually were at the exit where we should have left the Thruway, but the snow had completely obliterated the sign and we went gaily on toward Albany.

We found ourselves in the wilderness, with the storm howling about us, no signs that were readable, and a sense that we were never going to arrive anywhere—plus the disquieting possibility that our gas was going to give out shortly.

Zander had other engagements, and I felt sorry for him. I also felt a little sorry for myself, because I had been idiot enough to wear a spring suit and a raincoat when I started out that morning, and by nine p.m., I assure you, I would have liked a fur coat!

Finally we came off at an exit and found a toll gate. Zander went over to ask where we were, and the attendant came out of his booth, looked into the car and said, "Mrs. Roosevelt, I'm so glad to see you! We've met before, in Tokyo and in Bonn, Germany! You can get gas just beyond the next left turn, then take the first left beyond the gas station, back onto the Thruway, and I'll call a State trooper to guide you back to your proper exit."

We nearly missed the left turn because the snow had covered any signs of it, but we saw a distant light, got our gas, and were back at the toll gate just as the trooper showed up. He led us back almost to the right exit, where a truck had skidded and blocked the road.

Zander's big car couldn't get by, but the trooper's little one could, so Dr. Holcombe and I left poor Zander to find another route back to New York, and the trooper took us the rest of the way. We reached Arden House at 10 p.m., and enjoyed a very welcome belated dinner.

I feel very grateful for all the kindness that was shown us on the trip, and particularly for Zander's cheerfulness and his good driving, which kept us on the road when we might so easily have skidded into a ditch or impassable snow at any moment. I know many other people had far more serious adventures during the storm, but I was glad when ours were over! And I was glad we'd made the effort, for out of 47 people expected at the conference, almost 30 did manage to get there!

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL