JANUARY 26, 1940
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I lunched yesterday with Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr., the wife of the Secretary of the Treasury. There is always an element of surprise about her lunch table. Every year she manages to have some new central theme for decoration and for entertainment. Last year she had a model of the White House garden in the center of the table and dolls representing various White House ladies in authentic costumes. Guests made little speeches for the dolls about their days in the White House and the relationship of their activities to life today.
Yesterday, in the center of the table, was a huge goldfish bowl with several variegated and fascinating goldfish swimming around in it. In front of each of the guests was a miniature bowl with one lonely fish who was, however, most active. Mrs. Morgenthau had written verses to me on the theme of my old complaint that life in the White House was somewhat like the life of a goldfish and she pointed out that in a lesser degree, some of the women present lived in a goldfish bowl of their own. It may be good for us all to have this experience and it has one adavantage—if you have any interests you can gain a wider audience for those interests while the goldfish bowl is yours!
In the afternoon, the ladies attending the Cause and Cure of War conference came to tea. Mrs. Leach, Miss Thompson and I went from here to their banquet in the evening. Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt told a story in her own inimitable way. She said it had a moral but I think it had several morals. Dr. Neilson also spoke with courage and conviction. Though I did not agree with all of his observations, one must applaud and admire the people who take the trouble to think through what they believe and are not afraid to tell others how they feel.
After the banquet, we stopped in at the Mayflower Hotel to see the magnificent birthday cake made for the President by the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union, and to greet some of the members of the labor division of the Committee for the Celebration of the President's Birthday.
I am lunching today with the Council of Southern Women, where two of the members of the Council of Young Southerners are coming to talk over their part in the citizenship institute being held here by the American Youth Congress from the 9th through the 12th of February. If the preparations for this institute are as carefully made as now seems probable, I think it will serve as a most useful medium for youth to get in touch with its government and become acquainted with the problems and thinking of youth.
More and more, as I listen to young people talk, I realize the important part played by the public schools in our country. They should have the interest and support in every community of all citizens in order to make it possible for the teachers to accomplish the maximum of good, particularly along the lines of training for future citizenship. We have done so much to improve the structures in which our children are taught, but because it requires more constant effort on our part to know about the people and the curricula in our schools, we often neglect that most important side of education. Often a great part of the community has no touch with its public schools and this makes the task of the public school teacher doubly hard.