JANUARY 26, 1959
NEW YORK—A few days ago I was scheduled to leave New York by plane at 9 o'clock in the morning. The weather was bad, however, and when the time came for me to leave the Park Sheraton Hotel, where I live, the rain was coming down in sheets. No taxis were available at either entrance of the hotel, and after ten minutes of waiting I began to grow worried, for I had to reach Idlewild and I was afraid I would miss my plane.
Suddenly a man came up beside me and in a gentle voice said:
"Mrs. Roosevelt, my wife and I live in Woodmere and my car is in the parking lot. We would be very happy to drive you to Idelwild if you would allow us."
I looked at him in great surprise, for we had never met before. I hesitated to put him to so much trouble; but my situation was growing desperate, and so I gratefully said: "If I don't get a taxi before you get your car, I would be most happy to go with you."
He arrived with his car a few minutes later. His wife got in with her bags and I got in with mine, and we started off.
After a few minutes, my host turned toward me. "Don't worry about my driving," he said. "I am an old truck driver."
I smiled, because I was not in the least worried about his driving. I was just wondering if I would make the plane on time.
Then, as we waded through traffic, he said: "Where could it happen but in America? Here am I, an ex-truck driver. I have a nice home now, and a nice wife." He glanced at her. "You can see she is very nice."
I agreed as I looked at the pretty little woman sitting behind us.
"I have two nice children—one in Boston University and one in high school, and both doing well," he continued. "Last night we went to see `Sunrise At Campobello,' we stayed in the same hotel you live in, Mrs. Roosevelt, and now I am driving you to the airport and talking to you. Where else could it happen but in America?"
I surmise it could happen in some other places in the world. But as I think over the difficulties of getting in touch with government officials, or even with retired individuals like myself, I realize that perhaps this is a country in which contacts are easier. It is good to feel that they are—and to know that, in a way, we still have the feeling which must have existed in the early pioneer days of being a part of a big family. There are many variations, of course, but still the people of the U. S. are a big family.
This little incident, and the kindness which prompted the offer to take me to the plane, gave me a feeling of warmth and pleasure which I can hardly describe; but many other people must experience the same kind of willingness to help in an emergency. The fact that we had not been previously acquainted was no insuperable barrier because we were part of the American family.