On this day 68 years ago in 1945, 32nd president Franklin D Roosevelt suffered a massive stroke and died just 83 days after taking office for his 4th term. It happened while he was posing for a portrait being painted by artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff, at his cottage home known as Little White House located at Warm Springs, GA. The unfinished portrait can be seen exactly as it was abandoned in mid-brush stroke, as shown below.
We seem to be keen on history lately, and were excited to spend a day at nearby Warm Springs to learn about the longest-serving president of the USA, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We began our tour at the FDR Memorial Museum by watching an introductory film that includes some historical footage of his life and achievements during those tumultuous years. The museum has a great collection of Roosevelt mementos and a storyboard of the many accomplishments befitting a great world leader. On the wall was a family tree and we learned that FDR and the 26th president Theodore Roosevelt were fifth cousins. Eleanor Roosevelt, who was of course the first lady, was Theodore’s niece.
During FDR’s time, only a few people knew he was unable to walk for he had contracted partial paralysis from polio in 1921 at age 39 and was paralyzed from the waist down. With the help of his car’s hand controls, which he helped to design, he often drove while visiting Warm Springs. The president’s 1938 Ford convertible is on display inside the museum.
Completed in 1932, the Little White House is a modest six room one-story cottage. Also on the grounds are a guest house, servant’s quarters and four Secret Service sentry posts standing much as they did in 1945.
As a tribute to President Roosevelt, the 50 states (updated in 1959 to include Alaska and Hawaii) contributed a specimen of their state’s native stones for a memorial.
We continued our tour at the Historic Pools Museum, where FDR searched for relief from polio when he came to Warm Springs in 1924 to swim in the naturally-heated water. The pools are now drained to avoid damage to the historic structure, but we were able to touch the warm water bubbling from a basin.
Even before FDR knew about the warm springs, local legends tell of a time when the springs at the base of Pine Mountain were the site of a safe haven for warring tribes of Native Americans. They took advantage of the 88 degree water (900 gallons per minute) and were supposedly all afforded safe passage. The warm springs are no longer available to the general public to swim in, but to this day the springs feed the modern therapeutic pools at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute , a rehabilitation center founded by President Franklin D Roosevelt.
Although he was never again able to use his legs fully, by 1928 Roosevelt regained enough physical and emotional strength to return to politics and build the simple vacation cottage. With the resort becoming popular and attracting other polio survivors, he purchased the resort and turned it into what became a world-famous polio treatment center – the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. During his presidency FDR returned to use the therapeutic waters at Warm Springs every year (except 1942) until his death in 1945.
This was really an excellent tour, and we recommend it to anyone while in the area. Although we are not ardent history buffs, seeing so many artifacts from another time and learning so much is always inspirational.
On another front, people have to eat. Steve somehow got the hankering for a Cobb salad and gave it a try. He didn’t do too bad! As you may have noticed by now Steve is the chef in this house.
As I write this blog we are on a Tornado watch until 11PM. As we are from the West, this would be our first tornado experience as we journey on to the east coast. More to come on how we and Betsy make out!