Just this past week I saw ďThe Bells Are Ringing,Ē on Turner Classic Movies, and recognized my old Army friend, Major Ralph Roberts. We had served together at Fort Drum, New York in 1950, and as we were both New Yorkers, we travelled by train home and back together several times. On one return trip to Fort Drum, we were in a car with about a dozen other people, when a tall woman came down the aisle alone and sat down across from us. I nudged Ralph and said, "I think thatís Eleanor Roosevelt." He agreed it was indeed the former first lady. At the time, I was a second lieutenant and was Fort Drumís Information and Education Officer. I was also editor of the Fort newspaper, which I had started. I asked Ralph if he thought she would let me interview her, and he said, "You'll never know unless you ask her." I went up and introduced myself to her and asked if she would speak to me, and she graciously agreed.
An avid reader of the New York Times, I had just read that she had resigned the day before as chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and asked her why she had done so. She explained that she was disturbed that the five nations on the UN Security Council had garnered for themselves the chairmanships of all the major commissions. She had resigned, she said, so that a representative of one of the smaller nations could serve. I asked her if I could report that in my paper and she said I could. We spoke in all for about 40 minutes, until she got off at Poughkeepsie.
What I didnít know at the time was that her reason for resigning had not been made public. I published the story the next day for base personnel. It was picked up by the local newspaper in Black River and then sent down to the largest daily in Syracuse. They put it on the Associated press wire and it was sent to all dailies across the country, that an Army lieutenant had scooped the press. I sent Mrs. Roosevelt a copy of the article and she responded with a personal note of thanks. I am writing this at my home office desk, and the note and her picture are framed on the wall just behind me.
Letter from Mr. Theodore Lustig, a
friend of Ralph's
Posted: August 20, 2009