NOVEMBER 23, 1959
HYDE PARK—We drove up to Hyde Park late Friday afternoon, and at dinner our guests were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Atkinson and two gentlemen concerned with getting the statements of people on historical monuments which perhaps will be of interest in the future. We discussed going around the Hyde Park house next day and recording what I usually tell visitors whom I take about personally.
At 9 on Saturday morning I started on the recording trip, covering as much as possible from the first to the third floors. Shortly they are going to open some nature trails here, and the little ice house and stable will also be open to visitors. I therefore added a short recording on my husband's love of trees and his constant interest in planting them, as well as some comments about the stable.
I find that showing young people the ice house is a very interesting way of making them aware of the changes that have come about in our way of life. Such a thing as an ice house, of course, does not exist today, but up to the time of my mother-in-law's death we had no electric refrigerator in the house. My mother-in-law and my husband always worried that in a mild winter the ice would not be thick enough to cut and store. I told Mr. Atkinson that I thought we ought to simulate ice, with straw laid between the cakes, so that young people might get an idea of how ice was kept in a period which, after all, is not so long past. It was always brought to the big house daily and put in from the outside around the so-called cold rooms, which had doors also into the kitchen. One cold room was for meats and vegetables, the other for milk, cream, butter and eggs.
I also show the young people my mother-in-law's store closet, where she kept supplies of preserved fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies and pickles for winter use. But she was not quite as old-fashioned a housekeeper as my grandmother Hall. When I was a little girl, she would take me into her store room at Tivoli every morning. There I would hold one bowl while she measured all the flour that would be needed that day, and then, in another bowl, all the sugar that would be required. This was brought in barrels which stood side by side in the store room. Tea and coffee were also measured out, but that custom had passed by the time I became familiar with my mother-in-law's housekeeping. Even now I sometimes feel a little guilty when I do so little housekeeping.
Dr. J. Cotter, the park service archeologist, made me tell them about my husband's horse, Bobby, which he and his mother had given his father about a year before his father's death and which continued to be my husband's horse for many years.
Up in the playroom on the third floor they had looked through some books in the children's bookcase and found one in which Franklin, Junior had pasted an ex libris which said: "Half hours with the worst famous writers." The other day my granddaughter looked through those books and said she was sorry that her mother had not had the foresight to take some of them for my great grandchildren's edification.
After the recordings were over, I greeted some 20 girls from as many countries who had come up from Vassar to see the house and library. Two correspondents and a photographer from Latin America had also come for an interview, so I did not manage to get away until well after 11 o'clock.