There had been many very difficult visitors in the White House before, and I knew that the staff was equal to any demands that might be made on it, but it was not until my guests really arrived that I knew quite what those demands would be.
I was told who the visitors were when they were actually driving to the White House, and I realized that my husband was very deeply grateful for the fact that Mr. Churchill had taken a long and dangerous trip overseas to cement our relationships and arrange for closer cooperation now that we were actually in the war and facing the enemy with our Allies, Great Britain and France.
I was glad Mr. Churchill had come, but I seemed to be an automaton in those days, registering neither fear nor joy but just accepting what had to be.
What was known as the Monroe Room, a rather formal sitting room on the second floor, was arranged as Mr. Churchill's map room. Only the people whom he was to have constantly around him were housed in the White House—his aide, Commander Thompson, and his secretary, Mr. Martin. The others went to the embassy. I soon became familiar with Mr. Churchill's desires. There must be a tray in his room with a plentiful supply of all the drinkables that were needed. His breakfast went up by nine o'clock, but Mr. Churchill did not get up till eleven. Much work, however, was done before he dressed. From eleven till after lunch he worked with my husband or on his own affairs, but after lunch he retired to his room and slept until about five o'clock. From then on he was ready for the real work of the day, much of which was done after dinner.
My husband was not given to sitting up late at night after dinner as a rule, but during Mr. Churchill's visits he stayed up, and I am sure he was deeply interested at all times, for they seemed from the very first not only to have a good understanding of each other and an ability to work together easily, but also to enjoy each other's company. They both loved history, both loved the navy, and while I think Mr. Churchill had a more catholic interest in literature, they had some particular literary interests in common.
For instance, on one occasion I drove down in the car with them to Shangri-La. This was a retreat which had been set up for my husband for weekends in the warm weather when he could not go far away. We drove through the town of Frederick, Maryland, and Franklin pointed to a window and said it was the window from which Barbara Fritchie had hung the Union colors. Mr. Churchill then recited the whole of the Barbara Fritchie poem. My husband and I looked at each other, for each of us could have quoted a few lines, but the whole was quite beyond us! Franklin happened to be fond of Edward Lear's Nonsense Rhymes, and I can remember Mr. Churchill capping every rhyme my husband quoted. How long they could have gone on, I don't know, but fortunately a turn in the road brought an end to this particular amusement.