Main Content

Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day," 6/9/1939

The Household Staff Prepares for a Royal Visit

Copyright © White House Historical Association. All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Requests for reprint permissions should be addressed to

WASHINGTON, Thursday—I have just made the rounds of every room in the White House with Mrs. Nesbitt,1 the housekeeper. We even inspected the third floor, which, this time, instead of housing grandchildren, will have our royal visitors' personal servants. Ordinarily, when the house is going to be filled. I tell Mrs. Nesbitt to get in touch with the nurses to find out what food should be ordered for the various children, but on this occasion I have no babies to worry about!

I have to explain, however, with extreme care certain English customs, such as early morning tea and bread and butter and water which must be cooled but must not have ice in it. Only in our own country is water with ice floating in it considered a necessity.

I think Mr. Reeves,2 the head gardener, has done the most beautiful job with the flowers in and around the house. It has meant a great deal to him to have such wonderful flowers sent in from various parts of the country. From a friend in New Jersey, have come some of the most beautiful roses. Pink gladioli have come from Alabama and the orchids which will be the central decoration for the table tonight, came to us through a friend in New York City.

The arrangement of all this profusion of beauty is all done by Mr. Reeves and his assistants. When I went out on the porch for my breakfast, I could not help exclaiming over the gorgeous vases of deep purple gladioli standing by each column.

The railings of the steps leading down to the garden are covered with honeysuckle in bloom and the big magnolia tree planted by Andrew Jackson3 has opened wide its blossoms. England is a land of beautiful gardens and flowers, but I do not think the magnolia will be duplicated there.

I am writing this column early this morning because I have an idea the rest of the day may be somewhat busy. The President told me firmly that I must ready at ten minutes before eleven. From then until the King4 and Queen5 come back to dress for the garden party at the British Embassy, I do not see that there is going to be any time for them, or for me, to do more than remove a hat!

Three of our boys with their wives arrived last night for dinner and I have talked to them all this morning on the telephone. It seems rather queer not to have them in the house, but it is certainly nice to have them in the same city. Franklin, Jr.,6 brought his Great Dane to stay until he takes him to Hyde Park, which will add a homelike touch to the South Lawn. All the shops and offices are closed for part of the day, but I notice that one is still able to get the heads of departments to work, for one gentleman came in to see me at 9:00 o'clock this morning to talk over certain conditions in different parts of the United States.

After all these preparations, it is exciting to reach the actual day of arrival and I am looking forward with keen pleasure to meeting two people who have impressed their sympathetic personalities upon a continent.


Copyright, 1939, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.