My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

BRUSSELS, Belgium—My first impression of the United States Pavilion at the World's Fair here is one of pride and pleasure.

We were met by Mr. Howard Cullman, and since it was four o'clock in the afternoon we had time only for a quick first look at our pavilion, but let me tell you at once that the setting seemed to all of us enchanting. The big fountain out in front with its revolving modern emblem in the middle and its spectacular jets of water gives a wonderful impression of motion.

An amusing thing about the fountain is that many young people sit around on its marble edge, with shoes and socks off, cooling their feet in the water. Feet are apt to suffer at such a tremendous fair as this, and our exhibit will not only bring joy to the eye but people will go home and remember how their feet were rested and cooled!

We saw the story of the U.S. in Circarama, and we felt we were moving with the picture. It is beautifully done and, I think, very effective. The architecture of our exhibition building and the theatre are delightful—original, imaginative and charming.

As one enters the exhibition building the beautiful ceiling is the first striking note. Then one picks out one interesting thing after another, beginning with an exhibition of a section of an enormous redwood tree and some Indian pottery.

In the evening we went to the Gian Carlo Menotti opera, "Maria Golovin," in the American theatre, and we all liked it very much. It is reminiscent to me of some of his other work, but out of a simple and well-known situation he creates drama and emotional tension.

[unclear term marked] the first part of the morning again in the art exhibits. The sculpture is delightfully placed around an indoor pond which has a most interesting photographic tower with a picture showing Abraham Lincoln and other phases of American life and decorative pieces from different parts of the country. It was near this pond that we saw a group of young American students from a Southern state doing square dancing. This group evidently is very popular, for I thought it drew a better crowd than was at the Menotti opera.

The curiosity over here is about American life. Most peoples in Europe and Asia and other parts of the world take for granted that we have big cars and all kinds of gadgetry, but they are interested in our culture, which many have been told is non-existent, and in our way of life.

The exhibits in our pavilion are geared to this interest, and it is quite evident that it meets with appreciation on the part of the foreign visitor. It is the Americans who complain that we do not show our biggest cars, our wealth of machinery and our gadgets. Many Americans think of these as symbolizing our greatness. The European takes these things for granted and wonders if we have anything to offer in the cultural and domestic side of life.

Among our exhibits, however, we do show a kitchen with many of the gadgets that can be found in a typical farm kitchen or in most kitchens in America, but on the other hand we show camping equipment of every kind and grills for those meals we love to cook for ourselves out of doors in summertime and in some parts of our country all the year round.

Also, there is a wonderful room where children are brought in and allowed to paint. While the viewers can see the children from outside and above, the youngsters are in an atmosphere of complete freedom and they have a wonderful time.

I'll tell you something more about the art exhibit in my next article.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL