Eleanor Roosevelt Comes to Dinner, Roosevelt, Eleanor: Story and Information, Archives and Brethren Historical Collection, Funderburg Library, Manchester College, North Manchester, Indiana.
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Scope and Content
Eleanor Roosevelt Comes to Manchester College
See Also:Oak Leaves,10 January 1957;17 January 1957; 24 January 1957.
Date of Accession
Bio History Note
President A. Blair Helman’s wife, Patricia Kennedy Helman, wrote the following about Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to the President’s home on campus. This was prior to the construction of Tall Oaks, and perhaps added to the urgency of building a presidential residence.
When that last Christmas was over and 1985 turned into 1986, the plans to vacate a huge house and move down to a smaller space began. In that process I could not help but dredge up memories of special guests we had entertained through 30 years of our lives there. The first notable guest to arrive was Eleanor Roosevelt who came to us in the fall of our fist year in Manchester. She arrived in a bedraggled state, sporting knee socks and tennis shoes before Nikes were born. I showed her to the guest bedroom up the long flight of stairs, and apologized because she would be sharing the bathroom with our two daughters. The door on the bathroom had to be shut carefully or one got locked inside, but I was so tense about doing everything right that I failed to give her that bit of information. Pretty soon I heard a frantic, high vice saying over and over again, "Heelp me, somebody please heelp me." I rushed up the stairs and rescued her and as she walked back to her room she tripped on the carpet and fell flat-out in the middle of the entryway. All I could think of was the play, THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER. He had fallen in the guest room and had to stay there for eight weeks. But I picked her up as gracefully as possible, and she said she was alright and that I didn't need to worry about her, and I didn't because I was worrying more about dinner for ten around the table with Eleanor as the shining star. After a successful speech in the old auditorium, with the radiators banging away, we all returned to the house that was now crowded wtih the News Media. At one point the dean's wife wanted to know if she could do anything for Mrs. Roosevelt, and I was sure the lady was thirsty. So I put a glass of ice water on a silver tray that Mrs. Schwalm had loaned me, and the dean's wife went to Mrs. Roosevelt and in lowering the tray, the glass of ice water fell into our famous guest's lap. I'm certain she returned wtih plenty of her own stories to tell about this little college in Indiana and the new young president and his wife who was trying hard to be the perfect hostess. That was our first guest of note. But there were many through the years, and perhaps I should write a book.