The Daily Piketty: May 30, 2014
Weekend Reading: N.K. Jemisin: Wiscon 38 Guest of Honor Speech

Liveblogging World War II: May 31, 1944: Eleanor Roosevelt

MY DAY by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 31, 1944:

WASHINGTON, Tuesday—So many people wonder, now that so many of our boys are somewhere in the British Isles, about their reception over there. I received a letter from Mrs. Lilian A. Howard-Watson of 'Nagara' Gwespyr, Holywell, N. Wales, which gave me so much pleasure that I am going to give as much of it as I can in this column. Most of us do not know exactly what billeting is over here. It means whether you like it or not, you take into your house the people whom the government assigns to you.

Dear Madame:

On Sunday some weeks ago, the billeting officer approached us about housing American soldiers and we were alloted eleven, and at once their beds and bedding were brought to our house. Then a few days later the boys arrived and have since made a favorable impression on all our neighborhood, being most friendly, polite and unobtrusive.

I think it was a happy idea to billet in private houses, as in this way we are able to become acquainted with one another in a way which would have been impossible had they been in camps. We are glad to see that the Americans are fraternizing with our soldiers, each learning something from the other's point of view. Your boys are so generous hearted and big enough to admire the unbroken British spirit after having seen the damage at close quarters and appreciated the suffering entailed.

The Americans have the attic floor in our rather big old house, with four bedrooms and a sitting room with a nice view. We are always pleased when they come downstairs for a chat and coffee, and some of them have serious interests, such as collecting model ships, first editions, etc., which is interesting.

At first many of them being chiefly from the Southern states suffered much from chest colds with the treacherous weather but are now well again.

Mother is a justly important person I find in American life, and one day in the kitchen when I requested a giant-framed sergeant to read the Bible portion for the day, he remarked: `It reminds me of Momma at home.'

And so the Americans are winning golden opinions over here thereby strengthening the entente between our country and yours, and we have come to the conclusion that the clouds we so much dreaded of this American invasion into our homes are really 'big with mercy and will break with blessings on our head.' Long live America.