MARCH 8, 1961
NEW YORK—In reading the newspapers these days I am impressed by the many groups and individuals the President is sending throughout the world and from whom he is receiving reports. I am reminded that my husband once said, "The President of the United States can obtain more information than any other head of state in the world." And if that was so in his day it is undoubtedly more true today.
Take just one area, Latin America. The President's special representative, Mr. Adolf Berle, has just returned from Brazil; Mr. George McGovern returned a few days ago from the study of food requirements in the Argentine and Brazil; Mr. Arthur Schlesinger, an able historian, who is also to investigate for the President in various areas, returned from his trip to Latin America and tells us that Premier Castro of Cuba has lost some of his popularity in the other Latin American states.
There is an evident fear that Brazil may be planning to draw closer to the neutralist nations in the United Nations—and in her policies generally—rather than to depend entirely on the U.S.
This may quite possibly be a wise move, since the U.S. has lagged in giving the kind of thought and planning advice in South and Central American development that would bring about greater independence in those states.
To an outsider it looks as though many countries in South America need technical advice to develop an agriculture which would be far less specialized and produce a variety of crops. There is certainly need for loans to develop industry and natural resources of all kinds in every South American country.
A carefully balanced program presented by the U.N., however, is probably the answer, since there would be more confidence that such a plan from U.N. sources would be of a disinterested nature, but this should not prevent support from the U.S.
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A year ago at this season, instead of the balmy weather we are now experiencing, we had a snowstorm. This year the annual flower show opened at the New York Coliseum in much more suitable weather. There was a picture in one of our papers the other day of a bee buzzing around a cluster of crocuses that were in full bloom in the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Botanical Garden. This is a sign of spring which may be premature but which should give us all a lift in spirit if we enjoy our blessings while we have them.
I am afraid we may still have a heavy snowstorm before the threat of winter is completely gone, but we can enjoy beautiful days when we have them and know that the next time the snow comes it will disappear much more rapidly than has been the case earlier!
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It was a tragedy that so much was lost in the way of art which can probably never be replaced as a result of the fire in the Executive Mansion in Albany. Governor Rockefeller estimated that the loss of early American paintings which Governor Harriman had donated to the state for the mansion would be about $250,000 and his own loss in modern art would be from $50,000 to $100,000. The total fire damage is estimated at $500,000.
The question now arises as to whether to replace the old mansion by a new one or to repair extensively. This will entail a long discussion, including a possible change of site.
This discussion already has gone on at intervals for a long time. The feeling has been expressed that the neighborhood in which the mansion is located has changed completely, so that it may be well to move it to another part of the city.
Tradition nearly always holds me and I would hate to think of the old location being abandoned, but I do realize that if a whole new mansion has to be built it may well be wise to make a complete break and have a new location.
I shall watch the developments with interest, as one cannot help having some little feeling of personal interest when one has lived for even a few years in a house which has certain traditions. This one had the traditions of many forceful governors of New York State, among them my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, with his young family. They were extremely popular in this Dutch town on the Hudson River which held, and still holds, traditions of the early Dutch background.