Upstairs at the Roosevelts: Growing Up with Franklin and Eleanor

By Curtis Roosevelt | Go to book overview

17
My Mother, the President’s Daughter

Our mother told my sister and me very little about her early childhood except what illustrated her own mother’s inability to give of herself. Being the eldest child and the only girl—four younger brothers were soon to follow—one might assume that a special relationship would have developed between mother and daughter. However, this was not the case until my mother decided to separate from my own father, many years later. My mother, the eldest, was just a year old when her first brother was born—James—followed thereafter by Elliott, Franklin Jr., and John. My impression is that she was frequently the follower, tagging along—in fact, fairly in awe of her younger brothers. Although not as assertive as they were, she often imitated them, resulting in poor manners that brought them their Grandmother Sara’s disapproval.

Our mother did tell Sis and me how she hated the school she was sent to in New York City, Miss Chapin’s, a very proper one for upper-class young ladies. “Snobbish” was our mother’s condemnation. But she admitted, too, that she had always been in rebellion and never studied.

My grandmother, for her own part, always regretted never having had the opportunity to go to college. So when my mother, Anna, reached that age, Eleanor urged her daughter to do so. Franklin agreed to the idea and suggested the New

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