Eleanor Roosevelt to Lorena Hickok
Eleanor Roosevelt to Lorena Hickok
19 April 1945 [Washington, DC]
The Trumans have just been to lunch and nearly all that I can do is done.5 The upstairs looks desolate and I will be glad to leave tomorrow. It is empty and without purpose to be here now.
I've asked Helen6 and Mary Norton7 to come in on their way to Congress and say goodbye tomorrow and the Cabinet comes at 11. At 3 the top secretaries Steve,8 Dr. Mac.9 etc. At 3:30 office forces, at 4:30 household garage etc., at 5:30 I leave for the 6 p.m. train and so endeth a period. Franklin's death ended a period in history and now in its wake for lots of us who lived in his shadow periods come and we have to start again under our own momentum and wonder what we can achieve. I hope you and I will be working together but as I don't intend to take on anything new till all the business of the Estate is over, you may be at new work before I am.10
Much love dear, E.R.
ALS LHP, FDRL
1. See Document 37.
2. ER to James, Franklin, Jr., Elliott, and John Roosevelt, 12 April 1945, AERP; Truman, vol. 1, 5; Lash, Eleanor, 720-22.
4. ER to Joe Lash, 19 April 1945, JPLP, FDRL; Roosevelt, OMO, 1.
5. Although the Trumans had offered to live in Blair House to give ER time to move out of the White House, she declined their offer, wanting to vacate the mansion as soon as possible. The morning of April 19, she finished her personal packing as well as overseeing the removal of her husband's possessions and said goodbye to the press assigned to cover her throughout FDR's presidency (A. Black, Casting, 52).
6. Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas (D-CA).
7. Rep. Mary Norton (D-NJ).
8. Stephen Tyree Early served as FDR's press secretary from 1933 to 1945 (FDRE).
9. Ross T. McIntire served as FDR's personal physician from 1935 to 1945 (FDRE).
10. Hickok, battling severe diabetes, resigned her position as executive secretary of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee and left Washington in March 1945. ER, who had helped secure that position for Hickok and who remained concerned about her precarious financial and physical health, had encouraged Hickok since FDR's 1944 victory to line up another, less taxing position to offset the loss in income she knew her friend would confront. When Hickok could not secure a full-time position, ER and Congresswoman Norton hired her to be their part-time research assistant for fall 1945. Hickok did not find permanent employment until 1947, when she joined the staff of the Women's Division of the State Democratic Committee of New York (NAW).
12. Malvina ("Tommy") Thompson.
On Starting Over
The morning of April 19, ER held a farewell tea for the sixty women reporters who had covered her throughout the Roosevelt administration. She then made two announcements. First, that she would continue writing her daily column, and that when they met again as competitors, she hoped she would also "often meet them as friends in many places." Responding to questions, she also announced that she would not attend the conference charged with organizing the United Nations. As Bess Furman reported:
In a voice unusually low, Mrs. Roosevelt told her plans and requested that she not be directly quoted. Aside from continuing her writing, she said, she will not decide on anything until after she finishes the job that has to be done, helping to follow her husband's own wishes as to his effects.1
She also released the column below, hoping to stem the tide of speculation as to what position her future offered. The column did not end press inquiries. That evening, the Washington Star reported that "Mrs. Roosevelt Will Continue Column: Seeks No Office Now" and at 10 pm that evening, as ER exited the cab which brought her from Penn Station to her New York City apartment, she again faced a crowd of reporters questioning her about her plans, all of whom remained unconvinced by her declaration that "the story is over."2