HOME | FAMILY TREES | RECOLLECTIONS | STRICTLY SOLVAY | ETC. | READ ABOUT IT | NAME DROPPING
 

There had never been a First Lady quite like Eleanor Roosevelt, who had opinions and wasn't afraid to express them. In many ways she functioned as co-President, or, perhaps, the President's ambassador.

She certainly wasn't afraid to go her own way and she must have driven the Secret Service crazy. She enjoyed airplane travel, but also, in 1933, at least, she'd also drive herself to speaking engagements that were several hours away.

Her assertiveness put off many people, and she may have been respected more than she was liked. Other First Ladies, with Dolley Madison the leading example, helped their husbands' careers through socializing and schmoozing with politicians, often those from other parties, and one First Lady, Edith Bolling Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson, often performed Presidential duties during the last 15 months of her husband's second term because he had become incapacitated.

But like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her husband, Eleanor Roosevelt hit Washington, D. C., like a blast of fresh air. And what she did in 1933 was only a hint of what she'd accomplish before she left the national scene many years later.

Here's a sampling of articles from the year she went from First Lady of New York State to the First Lady of the United States:

Buffalo Courier-Express, February 11, 1933
NEW YORK, February 10 (AP) — Another Roosevelt family will be moving into the White House on March 4, and into the world of silks and satins and velvets will be admitted another shade of blue named after a member of the family.

More than 25 years ago, when Theodore Roosevelt was President, it was "Alice blue," a shade halfway between powder blue and turquoise, which was a favorite with his debutante daughter, then Miss Alice Roosevelt.

Now it will be "Eleanor blue," a soft, grayish blue, selected by Theodore Roosevelt's niece, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, for the gown she will wear to the inauguration of her husband.

The material for her inauguration gown, in this color, is crystelle velvet, light, uncrushable and silky.

She ordered the inauguration gown, two evening gowns — also blue, but in different shades — a black afternoon gown, and " couple of every day things" in half a day, she said today.

"And I think," she added, "I have enough to last me for most of the next year."

Also in preparation for inauguration, Mrs. Roosevelt today wrote out menus for 1,575 guests who will be entertained at the White House on March 4 — 500 for lunch, 1,000 for tea, and 75 for dinner. Because of the large number of guests, both luncheons and dinner will be served buffet style, standing up.

"My shoes will have to have low heels," said the wife of the President-elect, describing the dark blue kid shoes she will wear with her inauguration costume, "because I expect to be standing up most of the day."

Blue is Mrs. Roosevelt's most becoming color, and she wears it a great deal. During her travels about the country last summer and autumn on campaign trips with her husband, she often wore a three-piece tweed ensemble of a grayish blue of which she is very fond.

"Eleanor blue," however, is more grayish blue than that. It is as much bluish gray as it is grayish blue. She already has one evening gown in that shade.

The inauguration gown is to have long sleeves, a collar high in the back, and a skirt that will be long, but not trailing.

At the belt she will wear a jewelled buckle, given her many years ago by her husband's godmother, the late Miss Eleanor Blodgett.

Her coat will be of dark blue uncrushable velvet, and she will wear a plain dark blue straw hat.


 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 16, 1933
ITHACA, New York (AP) — Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt said today she will ask no Secret Service attendants for herself or any member of her family as the result of the attempted assassination of her husband.

“Emphatically no,” she said. “I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.”

Nor will she change any of her plans, she said, including that of motoring in her roadster with her two dogs to Washington for the inauguration.

“If I should have to change my plans to drive to Washington,” she said, “it certainly would not be for that reason, but because I may find it will be impossible for me to get away quietly, as I want to do. I’m going right ahead and do as I’ve always done.”

 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 16, 1933
ITHACA, New York (AP) — Prompt action by the escort of Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt narrowly averted her being struck by a train as she was walking up the tracks in the station here this morning.

She had just alighted from her special train and was standing on one of the tracks with members of her party and with Mayor Herman Bergholtz and Miss Flora Rose, director of Cornell University’s College of Home Economics. Neither Mrs. Roosevelt nor any of the other members of the party noticed the string of cars being backed in their direction until motorcycle policeman Edward J. Moore took Mrs. Roosevelt’s arm and moved her off the tracks.

 

Buffalo Courier-Express, February 25, 1933
NEW YORK CITY, February 24 (AP) — Social duties incidental to her position as wife of the incoming President are going to prevent Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt from carrying out her wish to drive her own car to Washington for her inaugural, accompanied by her two dogs.

She made her decision today upon learning from her husband that he had planned to invite several of his cabinet members and other associates to go with him from New York to Washington, and that they would undoubtedly be accompanied by their wives.

"Of course," she said, "my place will be on the train, too, as their hostess."

Instead of driving her car herself, Mrs. Roosevelt now plans to turn it over to several of the younger members of the staff that worked at national campaign headquarters last summer, and let them take it to Washington for her

"It will save them carfare one way," she said, "and I hope they'll enjoy it."

"Major," the police dog that was to have ridden in the rumble seat, will go down on a truck from Hyde Park with the saddle horses, "Dot" and "Patches," said Mrs. Roosevelt. "Maggie," the Scotch terrier, will undoubtedly accompany her mistress in the private car of the President-elect.

Since it will not be possible for her to obtain the few hours of quiet and relaxation that she had hoped to get by driving along to Washington, Mrs. Roosevelt plans to withdraw as much as she can these next few days from the bustle and intense activity that have surrounded her and other members of the family since election day.

"I have no public engagements between now and our departure for Washington," she said, "and I shall make none.

"These next few days I want to spend as quietly as I can. I shall see a few close friends and have, I hope, a little time by myself. And, of course, I have work to do."

The work consists in carrying out the first three days of next week her regular routine at the private school where she teaches, dictating on her book, "It's Up to the Women," and answering mail.

Mrs. Roosevelt's mail, always heavy, has increased tremendously since the attempt on her husband's life in Miami last week.

"We are now about 2,000 letters behind," said her secretary.

 

Syracuse Journal, March 16, 1933
NEWARK, New Jersey (INS) — Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt stepped into an 18-passenger plane at 9 o’clock this morning and a moment later the big ship lifted itself from the ground of Newark Airport and headed toward Washington.

Mrs. Roosevelt, impatient of conventions and not a bit interested in precedent, perhaps did not realize she was making history. It was the first time a President’s wife had traveled by plane while her husband was chief executive.

Mrs. Roosevelt, accompanied by her secretary, Malvina Thompson, occupied the ordinary seats used by regular passengers. There were nine other Washington-bound passengers on the plane.

 

Syracuse Journal, April 21, 1933
WASHINGTON (INS) — Delicate white gloves, brocade and slim-heeled slippers have to take life as they find it with Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt and her friend, Amelia Earhart Putnam, trans-Atlantic flier.

Tomboy-like, the par toppled off last evening for a joy ride under misty night skies in a giant transport plane. Mrs. Putnam didn’t even remove her gloves to fly the big ship from the capital to Baltimore, and Mrs. Roosevelt spent part of the time in the pilot’s cockpit.

Both thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Mrs. Roosevelt, accustomed to night flying as is the aviatrix, caught a glimpse of the necklace of lights that seem to encircle Washington when seen from the air,, and called it “Fairyland.”

The two, tall and willowy in the sleek silks of evening, seemed a strange, silent contrast amid the blackness and roaring motors of the tri-motored plane as Mrs Putnam controlled its movements with a slender, white-gloved hand. High-heeled, silken slippers applied the rudder pressure that swerved more than 10 tons of steel and fabric to the right and left.

 

Buffalo Courier-Express, June 4, 1933
By GENEVIEVE HERRICK
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 3 — The newspaper women shot a lot of questions at Mrs. Roosevelt at today's press conference: What kind of bathing suit she wears; what she does in an airplane, and what she thinks of New York's experimental camp for unemployed women?

She answered them all.

The bathing suit is "just a modern one, guess," of jersey, she believes. She's not sure whether the color is black or dark blue.

This question came up apropos of her statement that she had delayed a dip in the new White House pool for a day in order that she might not beat her husband in for the inaugural plunge.

And for what she does in an airplane, that query was prompted by the fact she leaves tomorrow morning for a speedy trip through the air to Los Angeles and a 36-hour visit with her son, Elliott.

Flying is now such a commonplace with her, she indicated today, that she does what she might do on a train trip. She reads and she writes and she knits. Part of the time, this trip, she will try sleeping because this is the first time she has ever planned to fly through the night.

Mrs. Roosevelt "alone and absolutely free from any social or political engagement," will start off tomorrow at 9 o'clock as a regular passenger in a commercial plane, making only scheduled, brief stops en route.

Early Monday morning the plane stops for an hour at Dallas, Texas, and Mrs. Roosevelt's second cousin, Lawrence Waterbury Jr., may meet her there for breakfast.

She will arrive at Tucson that afternoon to spend the night with her old friend, Mrs. John C. Greenway. Elliott may meet his mother there and fly with her to Los Angeles, where she is due at 9 o'clock Tuesday night. At 7 o'clock Thursday morning, she will start back, "flying straight to New York."

Is the afraid of air travel? "Not the slightest."

This moved someone to say, "as a matter of fact, Mrs. Roosevelt, you're not afraid of anything, are you?"

Which, in turn, prompted her to reveal that she's a "physical coward," but does things she's afraid of so as not to be a coward. Once she fondled a snake, so her young sons would not be ashamed of her.

Letters have been coming in to her, she said, asking or offering help in the new Bear Mountain camp for unemployed women.

"I am very pleased," said Mrs. Roosevelt, "that New York has been the state to have the first experimental camp for women, but I hope there will be developments of the project which make it possible to put girls in camps on a paid basis, as some men's camps are run. I hope that some states, if they find the need, will develop that type of camp."

Note: That evening President Roosevelt took the first plunge in the new White House swimming pool, and Mrs. Roosevelt, in her black or dark blue modern bathing suit, then joined him.

 

Syracuse Journal, June 5, 1933
From the Today column by Arthur Brisbane:
Mrs. Pattie Willis Smith, 81 years old, of Nicholasville, Kentucky, always wanted to eat one meal in the White House “to compare the President’s cooking with my own.” Mrs. South, called “Ma” South, ran a hotel for many years.

Mrs. Roosevelt invited her. “Ma” South wished she could have taken the White House bill of fare for a souvenir and told reporters that having been invited to the White House, “now my aim is to get into heaven.” In heaven she will meet many who have never eaten in the White House and will have interesting things to tell them through all eternity.

A remarkable lady is Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, remarkable for energy, kindness and good judgment. Planning a trip to California, to visit her son, she was advised to fly by day and rest at night. She decides to fly day AND night to save time.

In this saving of time, and in her constant travel by airplane, Mrs. Roosevelt sets an example of greatest value to the nation’s air industry.

 

Syracuse Journal, June 5, 1933
DALLAS, Texas (INS) — After breakfasting here with friends, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, en route to the West Coast to visit her son, Elliott, hopped off for Tucson at 9:41 a.m. today in a special American Airways plane provided for her.

Completing an overnight flight from Chicago, Mrs. Roosevelt landed here at 8:20a.m. and was greeted by Governor Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas and the governor’s husband, James Ferguson.

However, the Fergusons were not invited to have breakfast with the First Lady, which lit a fire under the bitter political feuds of Texas. The Fergusons left to eat breakfast at a downtown hotel while Mrs. Roosevelt joined Mr. and Mrs. Amon G. Carter and others for her morning meal at the airport.

Syracuse Journal, June 20, 1933
Cheering messages of hope and optimism came from the President of the United States today to upstate Democratic women assembled here for their annual party conference.

The messengers were no less authoritative than Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, “First Lady of the Land,” and Colonel Louis McHenry Howe, the President’s secretary and “Warwick of the Roosevelt administration” — the two people who are closer to the new chief executive than any others.

Arriving shortly after noon in Mrs. Roosevelt’s little roadster, which she had piloted over the roads from Hyde Park in a little less than five hours since breakfast, the two were greeted by interviewers at the Onondaga Hotel.

 

 

Syracuse Journal, December 19, 1933
NEW YORK (Universal) — In a magazine article published today, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an appeal to toy manufacturers to abandon lines of warlike toys such as tin soldiers, cannon, tanks and battleships, on the ground such toys have a tendency to make children “little militarists.”

She said, “Very often we sow the seeds in youth for an interest which will later engross the man or woman. Even toys may have a bearing.”

 
HOME CONTACT