FEBRUARY 25, 1959
NEW YORK—From last Thursday through the weekend I had a most enjoyable four days in Washington, D.C.—seeing people and sightseeing as I have not done in years. I do plan to be in the capital once more before I go abroad soon for a month, but it will be only overnight and I shall have to attend a meeting of the American Association for the United Nations. So, it was particularly nice this time to plan such a long social visit.
Thursday night was spent with my son, Jimmy, and his wife, Irene, and we had Franklin and his wife, Sue, come over to dinner. After dinner we had a real Roosevelt discussion evening, ranging over many subjects.
On Friday I met Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lash and their son, Jonathan, at the plane, and we motored down to Williamsburg. It had been a long time since I had been there and, more than ever, it has become one of our most interesting cities to visit. The impression of Colonial history and Colonial living that one gets is a most vivid experience.
We started our day on Saturday by going to see the film that has been made of Colonial America. It seemed to make people like Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others come alive as young men, and it gave a much more interesting flavor to everything we saw. Seeing the picture, I think, is an excellent way to begin one's sightseeing.
In the kitchen of the Governor's mansion I saw a little gadget that I much enjoyed. A nice colored woman of ample proportions greeted us here and when she saw that I was interested in this device she demonstrated it for me. It was a contraption used in Colonial days to keep flies away, for, said she, "There were no screams in them days."
Anyway, here's how it worked: sitting in a chair with her foot on a treadle, underneath a bar above her head from which hung several strips of cotton, she held a bowl in her lap as if she might be shelling peas or doing some other chore in a sitting position. Then she would move her foot rhythmically against the treadle which waved the pieces of material above her head and kept the flies away.
We dined and lunched in two of the taverns and at the Williamsburg Inn, and we enjoyed visiting several or the craft shops. Should you be there by any chance on an evening when the Bruton Parish Church is opened for a half-hour organ recital by Mr. Edwin E. Flath, be sure to go. The candlelight and lovely music are just the right ending for an interesting day.
On Sunday we had a delightful time at Monticello. Since I was last there much more research has been done and many new things have been discovered. Again I came away with the feeling, as I always had, that Thomas Jefferson must have been one of the most intriguing and delightful people to know.
You might be interested to get from Williamsburg a little pamphlet that contains two letters and Thomas Jefferson's list of books. The pamphlet is entitled, "A Virginia Gentleman's Library," as proposed by Thomas Jefferson to Robert Skipworth in 1771, and the books are now assembled at the Brush-Everard House in Williamsburg. It will astonish you, I'm sure, to see how many of the books Jefferson chose that should still be in any gentleman's library.