Wife of Presidential Nom
inee Helps to Run
BY JUNE HAMILTON RHODES.
Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, wife of
the Democratic nominee for President,
Is a woman you work with,· not for.
This I know, because she was my Im
médiate superior when I was director
of publicity for the women's activities
in the Smith presidential campaign.
The final Ο. K. on my appointment
to this position was to be given by
Mrs. Roosevelt. I saw her then for
the first time. She was sitting be
hind a golden oak rolled-top desk,
creating an oasis i f order and quiet
In a room in which excited clerks,
furniture movers and professional order
givers were shifting Democratic head
quarters from temporary to permanent
offices. She was assorting mail. She
vas dictating. She was answering a
telephoned query. She was giving final
instructions for her new' office.
My card lay before Mrs. Roosevelt.
I was about to expialn who I was and
why I had come. Ai «he looked *t
me steadily I became aware that 1
was looking into the kindest eye· I
had ever seen. She interrupted my
first words with, "Well, my dear, when
do you begin?" "Why now, If you
•wish," I replied, surprised.
Compared to the elaborate question
naires which usually confront appli
cants for jobs, this method was at
least unique. I discovered later that,
meticulous as she is in regard for de
tail, she trusts her experience and
judgment of people. Her genius foi
organization maii.es possible the va
riety of activities in which she is en
gaged and the volume of work she ac
complishes every day of her life.
These qualities react on her col
leagues. They create such an atmos
phere of quiet and poise that even in
the most hectic hours of the campaign
no one ever lost her temper.
The people who work with Mrs.
Roosevelt are all colleagues. Working
together is her idea of working. No
one ever works for her, and when Mrs.
Roosevelt's name appears on the score
of committee boards of which she is a
member, she is not a name on a letter
head, but an actual working part of
the activities of the institution.
When we worked for Eleanor Roose
velt, she felt confidence in our ability
to do our jobs. In the five months of
close association, there was never one
moment of interference or dictation.
There were certain hours of confer
ences and suggestions, always ending
with "I am certain you can do this
better in your own way, than I could
Her unfailing courtesy, and her ready
sympathy, her ability to give a definite,
clean-cut answer to any question, or tc
give a definite, explicit order, make het
a joy to work with. Tolerance, forti
tude, courage, quiet, strength are the
forces that make her so outstanding,
not the force of hard, driving, unyield
Even the herculean Job of organizing
the women of 48 States and 4 Terri
tories failed to obliterate her mother
ing Instinct. Imagine if you can, the
pressure of preparing Gov. Smith's first
touring campaign. Special literature,
news photographs, newspaper stories
■written in advance. Communications
established between key women along
the way and Mrs. Roosevelt's head
quarters. And always, always short
handed. Eleanor Roosevelt was usuallj
at her desk from 8 in the morning
until 8 at night.
At last we were off. When I walked
Into my compartment, just es the train
was pulling out from Albany, I found
a packet addressed to me, in Mrs
Roosevelt's handwriting. It contained
a small pneumatic pillow. "Because,"
■wrote Mrs. Roosevelt, "I remember the
year I campaigned my back was always
so tired and I know you are going to
need this every day you are out."
There has grown up through the
mediums and channels that any one
■who has had experience in national
politics understands so easily, a tradi
tion that Eleanor Roosevelt is an in
tellectual—a brilliant, cold, extremelj
clever, managing woman.
Like all great myths, this is about as
far from the truth as San Francisco Is
from New York.
Keeps Opinions to Self.
Certainly she has opinions—but with
it, the rare good sense to keep them tc
herself. In her own words, "It is im
possible for husband and wife both to
have political careers. It requires all
the energy and united effort of an
entire household to support one." "The
wife of any politician must never njake
any allusion to her own political opin
ions when they differ from her hus
band's. She must never agree to try
to convince him on any point, whethei
regarding some stand already taken oi
upon some matter on which he has not
yet passed judgment."
Like all extremely sensitive people,
she is shy: growing up in a family oi
cousins who were exceptionally good
looking, she became at an early age
conscious of the fact that she was not
a beauty and began to devote her time
and energy to her studies and to out
of-door sports. Tall, graceful, with
extraordinarily fine eyes and unusually
fine hands, she retains even now a cer
tain simplicity and naturalness unusual
in our generation.
Mrs. Roosevelt is that rapidly dis
appearing type—an American lady by
birth, by instinct and by training. She
also possesses more energy, vitality and
love of life than any woman I have ever
known. Her children all reflect it. She
is generous, sympathetic, sensitive to
the conditions under which her fellow
beings live and work. Her entire
thought and life expression is directed
toward humanitarian activities. Her
friends up and down the social scale
turn to her for help when in trouble.^
Solicitous for Friends.
It is Eleanor oRsoevelt who writes
the personal notes and remembers to
send that certain book on sailing date.
It Is Eleanor Roosevelt who calls up on
the morning your mother goes to the
hospital for a critical operation and
offers to remain with you, though her
arrangements are all made to leave for
Warm Springs with her husband. Her
flowers and her not· an the first to
arrive at the hospital.
Mrs. James Roosevelt, Franklin
Roosevelt's mother, turned to ms one
day shortly after her son became Gov
ernor, and said: "You are a young
woman who seems intelligent. Tell me,
why does Eleanor want to teach school?"
Many people have asked this question.
Four years ago Johnnie, the youngest
child, went away to school. Eleanor
Roosevelt had been for some time, to·
gether with Marlon Olckerman and
Fancy Cook, owner of the Todhunter
School for Girls. Raving no more ba
bies at home, Mrs. Roosevelt was keen
to do something of her own, and edu
cation had long been her hobby. She
had arranged to teach English and his
tory to Junior and senior girls in this
school and to live as usual in her New
York homes, when the affairs of the
State took a turn and Franklin Roose
velt was drafted for the governorship.
I was with Mrs. Roosevelt the morn
ing she received the news. S'.ie cried—
the only time I have ever seen her
weaken. "I don't want Franklin to be
Governor," she said. "It will spoil our
lives. He doesn't want to be Governor.
What shall we do? I want to stay In
New York and work In my school, and
Franklin has his work outlined for
Reads of Nomination.
Franklin Rooeevelt was in Warm
Springs, Ga. The Rochester convention
was on. He refused to answer the tele
phone. Mrs. Roosevelt arrived In Roch
ester and finally sent thla wire : "Frank
lin, you will have to answer the tele
phone." At last Franklin Roosevelt
came to the telephone and Mrs. Roose
velt told him she could not advise him.
Fifteen minutes later she took a train
for New York to open school the next
morning, and it was not until her ar
rival that she read In the paper that
her husband had been nominated.
Mrs. Roœevelt's loyalty la another
outstanding quality. I had just re
turned from a four weeks' tour with
Gov. Smith's train and Eleanor
Roosevelt came Into my office. "Frank
lin would like you to work for the
State campaign," she said.
I looked up quickly—we all loved
Franklin Roosevelt. "But I can't," I re
plied. "I couldn't leave Gov. Smith."
"I can't either," she said. "I've
started with this campaign and I'm In
It till we finish. I knew you would feel
just as I do, and I told Franklin so this
So the woman whose husband was
running for Governor worked for A1
Smith while her husbands associates
worked with him, and for him.
OfHcial Guests Tended.
Eleanor Roosevelt kept on with her
school because she did not dream
Franklin Roosevelt would be re-elected.
She has a great capacity for organiza
tion and administration. To be sure,
she comes into New York two days
each week, but at Albany things go on
with regularity and precision under the
direction of a trained and competent
hostess. Every guest has always been
received by her secretary, and the per
sonal attention given has assured this
guest that the hostess has left no ar
rangement for his comfort and happi
ness unattended. Each guest is placed
at the table, his room assigned and his
conference with the Governor meticu
lously met. whether the mistress of the
house is there or in New York, and she
personally sees to it that nothing slips,
j Franklin Roosevelt's mother presides
I over the Hyde Park home, which Is set
I high up in the center of a large estate,
on a plateau overlooking the Hudson. A
large, roomy, comfortable old estab
lished house, capable of housing all of
the five children, the two daughters
in-law, a son-in-law, three grandchil
dren and two or three close friends and
secretaries who are always there when
the family are. Here are dops. horse*
and garden·, all simple and natural.
There 1· no orientation and no for·
Franklin Roosevelt'· enormous library
occupies the left wing of the house and
It Is here that the family gather after
dinner, for they truly enjoy each other.
The boys adore Anna, the only daugh
ter. She Is one of the most natural,
unspoiled girls I have ever known; capa
ble as her mother, extremely friendly
and gay a· her father, and with the
sense or humor which Is the great bond
between Eleanor and Franklin Roose
Eleanor Roosevelt was discussing with
Hendrlk Van Loon the teaching of his
tory to the advanced pupils In Tod
hunter School. We were seated on the
lawn in front of the little cottage on
the estate, which is a part of the Val
Kill Furniture Shop. (The Val Kill
Furniture Shop is a project to provide
work for boys and girls of Dutchess
County. They are trained In the art
of reproducing early American furni
ture, but this is another story.)
Nancy Cook, who Is the owner of this
project, together with Miss Dickerman.
also Joint owner of the school, was
making cool drinks for us while
newspaper men and Anna were swim
ming in the little pool at the foot of
Mrs. Roosevelt said: "I want to make
historical events so Interesting that my
pupils will consult their history and
not have it forced on them. How can
we do this?" Then followed a list of
historical novels suggested by Louis I
Howe, the Governor's secretary. Finally
Dr. Van Loon turned quietly to her and
said: "All we can do, dear Mrs. Roose
velt, Is to expose our children and our
students to these facts, and If It takes,
all right; If it doesn't, we ean't do
much." Mrs. Roosevelt smiled again.
"Yes, that is my idea also. I don't be
lieve in trying to force anything. I
want my children to live their own
Robs Choose Own Careen.
"What will your sons do, Mrs. Roose
velt?" asked Dr. Van Loon.
"Whatever they most wish to do. We
were very much surprised when Elliott,
our second son, decided not to go ta
college, but to go into the advertising
business. However, it is his life, not
ours, so we have watched with Interest
his adventure in business.
"Our children will all have to be self
supporting, and although Elliott's wife
has considerable of a fortune of her
own, he intends to live on his own
"Franklin, jr., our third son, Is
interested in politics, also James, the
eldest, of course, and Betsy, his charm
ing wife, but Johnnie( the youngest) my
e-foot-2 boy, hate* it all ana thinks
it a great bore, because there are too
many people around to Interfere with
tennis, riding and swimming."
Mrs. Roosevelt rides well and Is at
her best in riding and sports clothes.
8h« swlma «ad plays tennis ud has
never neglected to keep up her Interest
In out-of-<loor «porte.
Eleanor Roosevelt la the most par
eil tent worker X hive em known. She
meticulously prepares for her class
work; she contributes frequently to
national magasines, and she has a very
large circle of personal friends. She
personally buys her children's clothing,
goes with them to school and personally
settles their rooms. She spends hours
with her grandchildren.
Mrs. James Roosevelt's question was
beautifully answered when her little
great-granddaughter "Slaty," who we*
snuggling against her grandmother's
knees and twisting child fashion, a bit
of her frock, was asked "How old are
you Slsty?" "Five years old," she
answered. Then Eleanor Roosevelt (the
grandmother) looking so incredibly
Iresh and young, interposed "Where are
you going to school this Fall, Slsty?"
The child turned quickly, looking
straight into th eyes of her grand
mother, her face lighted up «1th grer.t
giro as she replied, "Your school!'*
I do not believe there is a woman
living in America today of broader cul
ture. with more practical application
of the ideals that lie at the base of our
entire spiritual structure, or a more
sympathetic, sincere understanding of
the problems that confront the people
whose lives touch hen, than Eleanor
As we cam· through the great hall
to so to the cottage, a very worried,
tired, poorly dressed woman with
tragedy In her face, sat In one corner.
Eleanor Roosevelt stopped and went
over to her. She asked her name and
her errand. Then she called to us to
go on to the station wagon and wait.
Bhe was to drive us over to the cottage.
We waited 15 minutes. At last she
came. There was no apology, her eyes
were full of tears and she was terribly
"That woman is going to lose her
home if she doesn't get $76 by Tues
day," she said. "If there Is going to
be any State aid for these people, why
doesn't It get started. She hadn't been
able to get work for a year. This home
represents her lifetime savings. I can't
give them all money, but, of course, I'll
get this somehow."
Then she went Into the long list of
people who write, telephone, call every
day. all deserving, all needing help
terribly, and that is one of the reasons
why Eleanor Roosevelt .cares so little
for clothes. She spends her life, in
come and her energy, working with the
less fortunate who need her. "They
must be taken care of," she continued.
"We will have to share with them;
children can't atarve, people can't lose
their homes, while we keep ours. We
have got to do something.
If Eleanor Roosevelt goes to the
White House, the women and children
of America will find In her a sympa
thetic friend and an Intelligent lis
Eleanor Roosevelt le a woman who
do·· thing. She differ· from her hus
band on many points. It le true she
is, and always has been, a dry. It
would not be in her character to change
because It seemed expedient. She is
without the shadow of a doubt, how
ever. In favor of repeal of the eight
eenth amendment, because she Ik con
vinced that It his been a complete
There Is no doubt that Eleanor
Roosevelt's force of character, spiritual
strength and physical endurane· have
been tremendous factor· In Franklin
Roosevelt's battle for health. He has
won this battle becauie she has never
failed to believe that It was possible.
(Copyright. 1932. by North American Mm·
paper Alliance. Inc.)
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