Gilbert R. Cherrick

Dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt

Dr. Gilbert R. Cherrick, a St. Louis cardiologist and cardio-vascular specialist, wrote this reminiscence in Leawood, Kansas in October 2000.

I am a graduate of Harvard Medical School, class of 1954. Since then I have held several professorships of medicine and practiced medicine in New York City for some 40 years.

About 1956, I became friends with Anna Roosevelt Halsted (daughter of President Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt) and her husband, Dr. James Halsted (Harvard Medical School, 1930). Soon thereafter, Anna introduced me to her mother. Eleanor was a very great lady, and we two became good friends.

I remember, vividly, a conversation with Anna in 1960 wherein we chatted over a variety of matters. At one point, the subject of Alger Hiss came up. Anna had known him very well. Mr. Hiss accompanied Mr. Roosevelt to the Yalta conference at which Anna was also present. Anna stated that it was inconceivable to her that Mr. Hiss had been guilty of any treasonous action and that there had been a cabal of which “that contemptible Whittaker Chambers” was a prime mover – that “was out to get” Alger Hiss.

Another important memory in regard to Alger Hiss is a dinner party  I attended at Mrs. Roosevelt’s home on December 22, 1961. Other guests included Anna Roosevelt Halsted, Adlai Stevenson and Judge Samuel Rosenman.

After dinner over coffee the subject of Alger Hiss arose. Mrs. Roosevelt steadfastly believed Alger Hiss to be innocent. She had some particularly uncomplimentary things to say about Whittaker Chambers. She said she thought he was “utterly contemptible and probably a psychopathic liar.”

Adlai Stevenson and Judge Rosenman agreed. Both said they thought Hiss was innocent and that the whole affair constituted “one of the darker chapters in U.S. history.”