DECEMBER 29, 1938
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I might as well begin by talking about the thing which is still uppermost in my mind, the dance given last night for my young niece, Miss Eleanor Roosevelt, II. We had so many cousins from different sides of the family dine with us, that my brother and I, who had not seen some of them since they were small children, spent our time trying to pick out the different ones around the table by their resemblance to their parents. We found ourselves entirely successful, for Colonel Theodore Roosevelt's son looks like him and there was an unmistakable look of Ethel and Dick Derby in their daughter, Sarah Alden. Little Joan Redmond has more of a Livingston look, I think. But my mother-in-law, who always searches for Delano characteristics, could probably have picked them out.
As far as I could see, the dance was a great success even though a little crowded. I begin to see the Lambeth Walk waning, it is not quite exciting enough when played as a walk to hold young America very long. I don't see why they don't play a much faster tempo and really dance it. My brother succeeded in getting Virginia Reel sets all over the room toward the end of the party. Many of the young people seemed to know how to dance it, which was a surprise. I noticed that with the vogue for hoop skirts certain of the old-fashioned dances have returned. There were far more waltzes played by the orchestra and for more people knew how to dance them than I have seen in a ballroom for some time.
Mr. Irving Conn's orchestra came from Ben Riley's and everyone thought the music excellent. I liked the idea because of the old friendship existing between Mr. Riley, my husband and the late Louis Howe.
My niece looked very attractive in a white dress with a hoop skirt and a little old-fashioned bouquet which her mother sent her.
As couple after couple came up to speak to me last night, I was impressed by the fact that it is life and intelligence shining out of faces which really attracts attention. A girl may be very pretty and yet appear quite dead if she lacks animation and interest. On the other hand, one youngster impressed me by her over abundance of animation. I had a feeling that it was put on and that she stood aside and watched herself perform as though she were on a stage. The greatest charm is naturalness, but, of course, that necessitates being something in yourself, otherwise a natural person might be a bore.
I told you that I would say something about Mrs. Linda Littlejohn, a leader of women's movements in Australia, in today's column. She has a quality which shines out. You say at once: "Here is an individual with something to give." In return you are inspired to do your best for her. She is talking over the radio, traveling about in this country and meeting people everywhere. I think she is getting a real picture of the United States to carry back to Australia.
I was sorry to read of Zona Gale's death today. When I met her last autumn in Wisconsin I was impressed by her fragility, but also by the fact that she retained her power to impress herself upon the people around her. I feel sure she will be missed not only by the public in general but by her neighbors.