I re-acquainted myself with Eleanor Roosevelt last weekend when I received the Eleanor Roosevelt medal for public service at Val-Kill, her Hyde Park retreat.
When asked who my role models were, Eleanor Roosevelt led the list. My mother read her column “My Day” every day. I discovered she wrote 8,000 of these columns, often working late into the night. I must have read over my mother’s shoulder, because I, too, was in awe of Mrs. Roosevelt, her travels around the world, her attention to the poor and the powerless.
Before the ceremony we were given a tour of Val-Kill by her grandson Elliot, and Doris Mack, who had worked for the family. I was struck by the modesty of the house and its furnishings. Photographs lined the walls of every room; Eleanor and Truman, Eleanor and Kennedy, Eleanor and the Queen of England, Eleanor (Elliot called her grandmere) and the numerous grandchildren. No paintings. She wanted to be surrounded by people.
Doris Mack pointed out the