I read with avid interest the book excerpt on Franklin and Lucy ["The Love of His Life," April 28-May 5].
While the article was an interesting peek into private lives, I was chagrined to see that the author chose to perpetuate the soap opera mentality that a person can be controlled by his or her emotions: "She was a warmhearted, decent human being whose only sin had been to fall hopelessly in love." It bodes ill for humans if they are at the mercy of their passions, unable to assert intellectual reasoning over emotional reactions. I don't agree with that opinion, and feel that it undermines both personal accountability and responsibility. As for FDR's comportment throughout this literal and figurative affair, I can only conclude that I should cease seeking heroes in history or in current times, and try to be a hero instead.
Basking Ridge, N.J.
When Postmaster General James A. Farley came to Topeka in 1936 to dedicate the new U.S. Post Office, I was a teenage autograph collector who happened to be standing in the receiving line with Gov. Harry H. Woodring. As "Big Jim" passed by, he shook my hand and asked, "What can I do for you young man?" I responded that I had been unsuccessful in obtaining President Roosevelt's autograph. Farley asked for my name and address. Several weeks later, I received a signed White House card, with a note that President Roosevelt had taken great pleasure in giving me his autograph—signed, M.E. LeHand, Private Secretary to the President. Until I noted in the review of "The Love of His Life," I had never realized that this lady was also known as Missy LeHand, "the devoted personal aide," and one of the women "who had figured so prominently in his life," as cited in the book excerpt.
William H. Smith
Palm Desert, Calif.
When the President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated projects to help families "out of economic despair," I was eligible for apprentice Works Progress Administration art work; and then six months service in the Civilian Conservation Corps. At World War II, I was drafted into Eighth Air Force, went with the 100th Bomb Group to the European Theater of Operations. We knew that FDR was the president but I only learned whatever about him over the years. Now your excerpt from Franklin and Lucy by Joseph E. Persico reminds one of other presidents and their families. Only Roosevelt's legs were crippled; he had the Oval office re-designed and kept clean—and he listened to his mother, Sara Roosevelt. In his book, Persico writes that Franklin really loved "his women," and if nothing else, Eleanor poured her true heart out to the nation, keeping her beautiful to all the people. America used to have presidents who made its citizens really believe they belonged.
Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Only a man would use "homely" to describe a woman of Eleanor Roosevelt's brilliant achievements, innate intelligence, unconquerable spirit, and unswerving human dignity. This is the Eleanor who successfully got her pampered husband Franklin out of a cripple's bed and elected U.S. President in four successive national elections. The Eleanor who tirelessly traveled the nation on Franklin's behalf to keep her wheelchair bound husband informed about political and social issues and his name in front of the public. The Eleanor who bore five children with a husband who allowed his mother a key to their home, and who betrayed her with "the love of his life" up to the day of his death. No matter, being Teddy Roosevelt's niece, Eleanor got the fledgling United Nations up on its feet, kept the Democratic Party alive, and traveled the world to advise and consult, becoming the most famous Eleanor of modern times. Compare photos of Lucy Mercer to those of a younger Sara Roosevelt to identify the real love of Franklin's life. Eleanor Roosevelt "homely"? Bah.