READING ALOUD at picnics and special occasions, and above
all in the evening after dinner, was a cherished tradition of
Eleanor Roosevelt’s. One of the few entertainments available to
families in the Victorian era in which she had grown up, it
remained a beloved ritual that was especially memorable around
the fireplace in the dark of winter.
WHAT A SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT it was when upon occasion, after dinner at Val-Kill Cottage, Mrs. Roosevelt could be induced to read aloud. More usually it would be in late fall or winter. We’d gather by the great stone fireplace, our attentive faces lighted by the flames, and the periodic explosive crack of the wood added its seeming participation.
Favorite passages would be repeated over the years as though we could not have enough of them, an ever fresh nourishment. From John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent