Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hyde Park, New York 7/9/2016 Post One

We set out with our daughter Suzy, who had just arrived back in the states, to Hyde Park, NY.  We had planned for the day to see the Franklin D. Roosevelt house, Presidential Library, Val-Kill (Eleanor's cottage) and the Vanderbilt Mansion.  It was a very full day and there was not enough time to get to Val-Kill.  So Val-Kill is on the list for our next time through this area.  We took a lot of pictures so this will be done in 2 posts- one for FDR and one for the Vanderbilt Mansion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR)  our 32nd President, won a record four presidential terms.  FDR was born to a prominent Dutch Family that lived in New York.  He grew up wanting for nothing and attended elite schools.  In 1905, at the age of 23, he married Eleanor Roosevelt who was his 5th cousin, once removed.  He was also the 5th cousin of President Teddy Roosevelt. When they married, Teddy Roosevelt gave his niece, the bride away and Teddy is said to have stolen the bride and groom's day as all the reporters came to see President Teddy Roosevelt.  Sara, FDR's mother was not happy about the marriage, however, and whisked FDR away on a foreign vacation prior to the wedding with hopes to change her son's mind.  But with FDR being her only  child , I suppose no one would have been good enough for him in his Mother's eyes.

Roosevelt entered politics in 1910.  The last of the 6 children that FDR and Eleanor bore was born in 1916.  Life with FDR would not be easy for Eleanor.  Her mother-in-law did not like her and was very overbearing especially because they lived in her home.  Add to that, in 1918, Eleanor discovered the affair that FDR was having with his social secretary, Lucy Mercer.  Eleanor offered FDR a divorce, but Sara, FDR's mother, forbade this saying he would be cut off from all inheritance if he did divorce.  It was not that she liked Eleanor, she just did not want the family scandal. While FDR and Eleanor remained married, they were said to have had only a political relationship, as opposed to a romantic relationship, going forward from then on.  In 1921, FDR was stricken with a disease which left him with permanent paralysis from the waste down.  At the time it was believed to have been due to polio.  Today medical historians believe it may have actually been Guillian Barre Syndrome. But FDR was determined that he must have the public believe he was getting better if he was to run for public office again.  He would establish the Georgia Warm Springs foundation to help himself and others in their road back from Polio.  This foundation would later get folded into a new foundation he founded, the March of Dimes (1938).  FDR's face on our US dime is tied to his establishment of the March of Dimes.

FDR would never regain feeling from the waist down.  But he would go to great lengths to have the public think otherwise.  He wore braces that held his legs straight, and learned to swing near his hip to make his leg track using a cane in one hand and holding on to someone else with the other.  He would deliver speeches 'standing' and it is said that the sweat dripped down his face as he always used his upper body to hold him up (the podiums were always tightly secured to the floor).  Below is a picture of one of his may wheel chairs, made from a kitchen chair.  He went to great lengths to be seated before guests and to look like he was in a regular chair.

It is a bit amazing that in a time when a physical disability would have you seen as mentally incapable as well, FDR would not only win the Presidential seat, but would win that position for a record setting 4 terms.  He even drove his own vehicle that was modified with hand controls to make this possible and he choose only convertibles as they were easier for him to get in and out of with his condition.

FDR's presidential museum is one of the larger Presidential museums we have been to.  Having won 4 terms,  there is a lot  to be covered.  Most know how FDR lead this country through the depression, through WWII and also how he established many Federal programs and reforms known as the New Deal.  For a quick refresher, a quick discussion of these can be found at:  FDR accomplishments But every corner we turned in the museum there were new and interesting things that we learned and discovered.

FDR was a lifetime avid stamp collector.  Beginning to collect at the age of 8, he would continue even asking that envelops sent to the white-house be sent to him to review the stamps.  His collection includes 1.2 million pieces.  While in office he also played a critical role in the creation, design and production of over 200 US stamps.

FDR earned his bachelor's degree in history  from Harvard in just 3 years.  He went to Law school at Columbia but did not finish as he passed the bar while he was in the process of going to law school.

FDR made history in 1933 when he appointed the first female to a US Presidential Cabinet position. This was Frances Perkins who was appointed Secretary of Labor.

FDR was the first president to give a speech on television and his wife Eleanor was the first, first lady to give a speech on radio.  FDR was also the first president to fly on an airplane.

FDR died, while in office, while having his portrait taken.  He died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

After visiting the Presidential museum, we toured FDR's home, stable and gardens.  The home is 3 stories high and includes 15 rooms and 9 bathrooms.  Other than an elevator that was a manually operated trunk elevator, there were no other special accommodations in the home for FDR's disability.

FDR was a strong man who overcame a disability and lead this country through some of our most challenging times.  While some US Presidents are forgotten over the years, FDR paved the way for many benefits that influence all of our lives today.  

FDR House
Dining Room
FDR House
FDR House
Living Room
FDR House
FDR hid his disability
One way was by converting kitchen chairs so
it looked to others like he was sitting in a normal chair
The Pink Room
King George VI of Great Britain and Winston Churchill
have stayed in this room
FDR House
FDR's room from youth until marriage in 1905
FDR House
The original house had 2 bathrooms.  When FDR remodeled
in 1915 he brought the number of bathrooms up to 9.
FDR House
The Chintz Room
This room was used by Franklin and Eleanor prior
to the house expansion.
FDR House
The Master Bedroom
FDR was born in this room and in this bed on
FDR House
FDR's Bedroom
FDR House
Eleanor's Bedroom (after FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd)
FDR House
View from the house
FDR House
 In the Roosevelt Garden
In the Roosevelt Garden
In the Roosevelt Garden

One of FDR's modified automobiles

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