It is the time of the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II and rationing. There are shortages of everything: hair curlers, lawn mowers, girdles, toasters, paper, and diapers. Every time you complain, someone says, Don’t you know there’s a war on? You are allowed to buy two pairs of shoes per year. If you’re lucky enough to have a black A rationing sticker on your car, you can purchase three gallons of gasoline a week presuming, of course, the rubber rationing doesn't prevent you from replacing a flat tire.

The war has forced all of the nations
 manufacturing plants to turn out military supplies. Typewriter factories are making machine guns, automobile manufacturers are building bombers, and every piece of scrap metal is collected and turned into bullets.

Among the 982 movies made during the war are: The Man Who Came to Dinner, Woman of the Year, The Lost Weekend, Casablanca and Bambi.

Everyone enjoys radio programs such as One Man’s Family, Your Hit Parade, and the Major Bowes Amateur Hour (where you dial Murray Hill 8-9933 to vote for your favorite performer). Radio also gives us some of our most endearing couples: Amos and Andy, Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen, Fibber McGee and Molly.

A few of our favorite songs are White Christmas, Swinging on a Star, You are My Sunshine, and I’ll Be Home For Christmas. A skinny kid by the name of Frank Sinatra joins the Harry James Orchestra.

The girls are wearing loafers, blue jeans and dads oversized white shirt. Men wear victory suits, (with cuff-less trousers, small lapels and no patch pockets. to save on fabric there’s a war on, you know). The kids play with yo-yos, and the newest invention is the ball point pen.


“Her sensible shoes made a slight echo on the wood-slat floor as she wandered down the hall peering into the small rooms of the one-time camp counselors cabin.

“She entered the second bedroom. It was good sized and certainly seemed adequate. She would take this room. I’ll have mother’s four-poster retrieved from storage and brought out here, she thought. She found the closet. It was small but would do, she guessed. Just as she was about the close the closet door something on the shelf caught her eye. Because of her height, it was easy for Eleanor to reach the little blue leather book with gold-trimmed pages.

“My Diary someone had handwritten in beautiful calligraphy on the first page. Intrigued, Eleanor opened the cover.

“The First Lady curiously leafed through the book only to discover, much to her disappointment, that the mysterious owner had not fulfill her good intentions, for every page was blank. What a shame, Eleanor lamented. There is nothing so exciting, so full of possibilities as a diary just waiting to be filled with ones most personal thoughts.

“Standing there rubbing her hand on the soft leather cover, Eleanor had an idea…

“July 18, 1942

“I begin this diary with the hope it may act as a primer, if you will, for those of us elected to this special sorority. As First Ladies, we are women with one overriding commonality: a husband who, for a brief moment in history, is the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world. More importantly, we are women who are individuals in our own right. No matter the strain, we must not loose sight of that.

“So often I wish I had someone to tell me how to do this job, give me support and encouragement, someone I could go to for advice. Then I had a thought why not establish a private, revolving handbook for and by First Ladies? No one knows this role better than those few of us who live through it, why not compile our experiences for those women who follow? Ideas only have power and permanence when they are written down, so this will give us the opportunity to talk to each other now and 50 years from now.”


“I begin this diary with the hope it may act as a primer, if you will, for those of us elected to this special sorority…”

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