In Washington last week, the senior officer of the U. S. was Charles Edison, Acting Secretary of the Navy. Every one above him was out of town. But more importantly active than Mr. Edison in Franklin Roosevelt's absence was Mrs. President Roosevelt, who went to bat cleverly in her column to defend an act of her husband's which had stirred the country to its grass roots: shifting Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November (the 30th) to the next-to-last (TIME, Aug. 21).
Only since 1863 has Thanksgiving had a consistent year-to-year day, but football coaches were furious: 30% of them had games scheduled Nov. 30 which would now play to ordinary weekday crowds. Calendar-makers took the blow quietly except for Elliott-Greer Stationery Co. of Amarillo, Tex., which happily discovered it had designated Nov. 23 as Thanksgiving Day by mistake. Alf Landon sounded off in Colorado as follows: ". . . Another illustration of the confusion which his impulsiveness has caused so frequently during his administration. If the change has any merit at all, more time should have been taken in working it out . . . instead of springing it upon an unprepared country with the omnipotence of a Hitler."
Mr. Roosevelt had given the wishes of "merchants" as his reason for making the change, to give them a holiday nearer Labor Day, farther from Christmas. Mrs. Roosevelt reported: "I got a most amusing letter attributing this change to a desire to help a certain race in this country, which is credited, in this note, with doing most of the 'trading' and which, they say, is not interested in American traditions. . . . But . . . how about remembering how the Yankees always were good traders and perhaps some of them still are in the business!"
¶ Meantime, sea-loving Franklin Roosevelt journeyed the farthest north that he had been while President. Dogged by fogs which delayed the comings & goings of his mail planes, he cruised on the Tuscaloosa to Halifax and Sydney, N. S., thence to Bay of Islands and Bonne Bay, Newfoundland. Not since he and his cousin Gracie Hall Roosevelt went there in 1908 had he fished for salmon in the gorge of Newfoundland's Humber River. Water and weather were perfect but Fisherman Roosevelt landed no salmon after trying all day. Brigadier General Edwin M. ("Pa") Watson got the party's one fish and Mr. Roosevelt issued a statement: "His unique specimen, while not the fattest known, excels all I have seen in my long experience. It is, in fact, the Adonis of salmon. Its regular features, its pink complexion and its rippling muscles make it a fit comrade for the General."
Continued fog, and the necessity of signing WPA authorizations, obliged the President to give up visiting the Labrador coast, turn back across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, head for Annapolis and Washington.
¶ Prominently posed with the President for news and newsreel pictures were Franklin D. Jr. & Ethel du Pont Roosevelt, who, with two young friends, were cruising just off Campobello. Gossip columnists took this as renewed notice that the Franklin D. Jrs. are not phphpht as gossiped.