Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo to Margaret Woodrow Wilson


Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo to Margaret Woodrow Wilson


McAdoo, Eleanor Wilson, 1889-1967




1943 June 30


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo writes Margaret A. Wilson with news from the United States.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson family




My own beloved Margie

     I have been so sickeningly remiss about writing to you that I could weep with disgust at myself. I dont even remember when I last wrote having the kind of mind, Im afraid, that sub-consciously rejects everything that it is ashamed to remember.
     And your last letter was so perfect-could I not have answered it immediately! They - every letter you write, my darling, is like manna from heaven. I carry them around in my purse and in my heart for day-reading and re-reading them and feeling courage and faith and your beautiful love flowing through me with every word. To my great sorrow, the last one somehow slipped out of my purse and was lost. I still think it's somewhere in the house tucked away by Faith or our little maid, but so far I haven't been able to find it. Its worse - much worse, than losing a precious jewel and, on top of that, there were some questions you asked me and now I can't remember them, darn it! Except one - one that you have asked several times before and which I answered once, but obviously in a letter that didnt reach you.
     You asked if I still have a car and the gas to move it - yes, I have - it is old, but still runs, and I'm lucky, because government employees (in war jobs) are given C. Cards, as well as the A cards that everyone else has, which means that, if Im careful, I have plenty of gas for my work and for household errands. We are lucky out here because we are in the midst of oil fields and so, where the poor Easterners get only a gallon and a half a week (with A cards) we get four a week. You see, because of transportation problems, enough gas to give the Easterners more, and make the division equal, cannot be delivered there. I have just been to Washington and I felt like a heel when I saw what even government war workers are up against there. The bus lines and street cars are swamped & taxis are scarce and people have to walk for miles, which wouldnt be anything to talk about, except for the summer heat which as you know, can be horrid. But it must make you smile to read this, where you live constantly in heat that would make the Washington climate seem chilly!
     You did ask me, too, I think if we had a maid. Well, mirabile dictu, we have! And she is a miracle straight from heaven. We had her before the crash (my own personal crash, I mean) and had to let her go. But after I got back on my feet she came back to me and is working for half the money she could get somewhere-anywhere else. This is partly because she is truly fond of us and partly because she has a little boy-five years old-whom she worships and whom no-one else wanted to let her have in the house. (They would now, like a shot, because there just aren't any good servants to be had anymore-they're all in war industries.) So I told her to bring him along and, since I have no maids room in my house, we all live to-gether like one family - they have the guest-room - and he is the cutest, brightest, best-behaved little brown child you ever saw. I suppose the day will inevitably come when she will be hired away - Essie, the maid, I mean - but meanwhile I thank Heaven for her. I, literally, couldn't get on without her, because I have to be away from home two thirds of the time, at least, and the house is tucked away in the hills and I couldnt leave Faith there quite alone at night - not to mention our blessed little dog. You see, the war has brought with it, along with all the other troubles, a lot of crime of every sort and no-one in their right minds leaves a pretty young girl quite unprotected. And Essie is brave and intelligent and completely trustworthy in any emergency. Am I not fortunate? Or is that the word? Does it sound like as if I thought myself specially favored to say that I think it is a part of the Divine protection which comes to me constantly through you and the Mother and Sri Aurobindo? Is it absurd to say this in connection with such minor things as a faithful maid? But that isn't really minor, is it? Nothing is.
     I am sorry that Boyd told you that he was worn out doing his work. (I saw him in Washington just two weeks ago and he said he was feeling fine.) Because that gave you cause to worry, even a little about me. You musn't, my darling. I am tired quite often, because travelling nowadays is very difficult and uncomfortable, but when I tell you that a few nights of real sleep put me right back on my feet again, you can see that the tiredness isn't serious. As long as I keep up the enema ritual, Im all right. When, as on trains, I have to forgo that luxury, I feel pretty awful, but that doesnt happen often enough to be serious, either. So, please, beloved one, dont worry about me.
     I am getting along very well with my work - learning (the hard way) how to speak without heart-failure and becoming almost an expert in organization problems! Isn't it a joke for me - the frivolous, silly one of the family - to be thrust headlong into a job I thought I would loathe never be able to do and finding it really interesting? Sometimes I laugh out loud when I think of this strange turn of fate. And sometimes I seem to hear Mac laughing, too, as he watches me, back in the Treasury Department as a "hired hand," doing things I told him so often that I would hate like poison! But, oh darling how I am helped! The miracle that began on that wonderful day when I got the Mothers message goes on and on. I get discouraged and tired and sometimes almost dispairing over the worlds great misery, but always when I let go, faith and courage come back to me and I can go on. You know what you have done for me, my blessed, beautiful sister-but I must tell you again and again so that you will know that I do not forget and am infinitely grateful. How I wish that I could have just one hour with you, right now, though. Because I have to make a decision before the first of August and I am finding it terribly difficult. The Office of War Information has asked me to go to England for three months to talk to people there (at public meetings) about America. The idea is to promote better understanding between the two countries - they are sending people here, too - and, so I am told, the British people are filled with curiosity about America and are eager to hear all they can about us. But how can I decide where my duty lies? I want to go because it would be a fascinating adventure and because even the little I could do might help a tiny bit to build the peace that must come - and what am I alive for now if not to play my part- however insignificant in this great task? And I dont want to go, because I feel that I am not equal to the job. I am not a good enough, or experienced enough speaker and English people puzzle and upset me by their reserve and coldness (even though I know that all that is may well be only on the surface.) Then there is my beloved Faith - can I leave her and go into a "war zone" - should I? She is much more independent in some ways since I have been away from her so much, but she is still an "innocent" - All her geese are swans - she is careless because she is not capable of realizing -or rather recognizing danger and evil unless it is perfectly obvious - like fire or air-raids or actually attempted rape. (She has never experienced these things, thank God.) So, if something should happen to me, she would go through a very bad period, since, as yet, she is not really capable of earning a living and would have only $90 a month to live on (half of my insurance money) and because there is no-one I know whom I could ask to take care of her and give her a home until she gets on her own feet. Frank and Betty Sayre, bless them, have told me that they would take her in and help her, but I don't think they should be allowed to take on such a responsibility when they have plenty of their own.
     Helen Bones is ill - not seriously - Marion & Bert Erskine are broke, and who else is there? I can't seem to see my way clear to throwing aside a responsibility which, to a certain extent, I have created. I mean that, while Faith's peculiar temperament and immaturity were born with her, it is my fault that she has not been partially, at least, cured of these hindrances to independence. But why should I burden you with all this, when there is not time-before I must decide-to get a letter back from you? And when it may all be settled for me, if the Treasury decides that they cannot pay me my salary during the period when I am working for the O.W.I. You see, O.W.I. pays expenses, but no salary and, since the house must still continue to function (and be paid for) while Im away I have to have one. The O.W.I people are taking the matter up with the Treasury. I almost hope the answer will be no! Then I wont have to decide for myself!
     I have left out one very humiliating phase of this problem - I am a coward. I have a real case of the jitters when I even think of crossing the ocean and of bombs on England. I am not, I think, afraid to die, but I am terrified by the thought of injury and by the possibility of showing panic in danger.
     So - well, darling, putting all this down in this letter to you - talking it over with you, like this - has helped a lot. I feel guilty about bothering you, but happier, and I know you wont worry about it since you know so well - as I do in my quiet moments that God will show me the way and that way will be the only right one. I pray every night for guidance.
     I am so glad - so glad, my own darling, to hear that you are well. But dont over-do, please sweet. Take care of your precious self I know you will, if only because the Mother wants you to. You asked if "the help" (my own phrase) still came through to me. Yes, beloved, it does. Not dramatically, or so obviously as it did the first time, but in a different though quite lovely way. I find that I must go there - to you - to the Asram - to ask for it. And every night I try to do this sometimes I get there and sometimes I dont. I seem to depend upon the degree of my tiredness or tenseness. I must relax to accomplish the journey and often I can't do that. But just knowing that help is there to be had, makes all the difference, especially in the bad times when I let lonliness and grief creep up on me - when I am weak, in other words.               Darling, thank you for what you said about the war - not only in this last letter but in others. You keep my hope alive - hope for a God-loving, God-fearing world,.which I couldnt live if I lost that hope. I know that I may not see that world, because it can't come quickly, but to believe that it will come is my - and mankinds - last best hope on earth, and if we lose it we ourselves are lost.
     Dont mind about the news story about you. It wasnt as stupid as you think and everyone who has mentioned it to me was surprised when I said that I knew you would hate the publicity. They thought it was a good story - by which they meant dignified and a credit to you and the Asram. This sounds silly - to you and to me - but it is only silly, I think in the way people express their re-actions not in the reactions themselves. But what a typically dirty trick not to tell you that the man was a reporter.     
     Oh, ridiculous, uncivilized, publicity-mad, beloved America! Did I tell you that I finally after months got the book - Sri Aurobindo's that you sent me? I havent had time to read any of it yet, but I will soon - so more about that in my next letter.
     Oh, there is so much more to say, but I must stop now - I started this two days ago and it will never get off if I dont send it.

     I love you, my darling, with all my heart and soul,


Original Format



Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944





McAdoo, Eleanor Wilson, 1889-1967, “Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo to Margaret Woodrow Wilson,” 1943 June 30, WWP19659, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.