Our 2016 summer plans were unexpectedly delayed for health reasons. As some of you know, when we returned from Europe I had a biopsy done on two thyroid nodules. We were shocked when the results came back showing possible cancer. So we canceled our plans on the New Jersey coast and sightseeing in Philadelphia and I had my thyroid removed on June 10 at the Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia. During this unexpected delay we were blessed to be able to stay at my dear friend Jamie’s house. After a tense ten days of waiting, the pathology report came back with no cancer. We were once again on our way!
After a short stay in Northern Virginia to have a minor repair done on the RV, we headed north to Pennsylvania. We stayed two days in Lebanon not far from Hershey. Since we both had been to Hershey and didn’t want to get in the summer tourist crowds and I was still technically recuperating from surgery, we were content to just relax at home.
Next stop was in Accord, New York. We arrived on a Saturday which happened to be the weekend of the ARRL (Amateur Radio) yearly Field Day. I stayed home and rested in the air conditioning and Bill made a short drive to the location of the nearest Field Day and enjoyed a few hours with fellow amateur radio enthusiasts.
Sunday we drove to Hyde Park to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Birthplace and Presidential Library and Museum. One of our goals in our travels is to visit as many presidential libraries as possible. On the way we crossed the Hudson River on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge. The Roosevelt Library opened in 1941 making it the first presidential library and the only one used by a sitting president. It was designed by FDR and is on the grounds of the Roosevelt estate and a short walk from his birthplace. This year is the 75th anniversary of its opening. When Roosevelt donated his papers to the Library, he set the precedent for public ownership of presidential papers. The library has over 17 million pages of documents and over 150,000 photographs. The Museum which is part of the library has many exhibits detailing the lives of Franklin and Eleanor, the Great Depression, the New Deal, and World War II.
First we took a guided tour of the home where FDR was born and lived throughout his life. He deeded his home to the National Park Service in 1943. We learned he was a collector of stamps, coins, rare books, ship models, and birds. As an only child, he led a very privileged childhood and details were given on the role his domineering mother played in his life and marriage. His physical struggles due to paralysis from the waist down due to polio in 1921, and the great efforts to hide it from the public were discussed.
The Presidential Museum had many exhibits focusing heavily on the New Deal and World War II, including his unprecedented four terms as president. It was from the museum he held some of his “Fireside Chats”.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s role as reformer, teacher, journalist, political activist, advocate for the underprivileged and delegate to the United Nations was detailed. Today, she is known as “First Lady of the World”.
The Museum did not hold back as they described Eleanor’s difficult childhood with a critical mother, her struggles with a domineering mother-in-law, and her anguish over FDR’s long time relationship with Lucy Mercer, who was with FDR when he died in 1945 from a cerebral hemorrhage.
We also visited the gravesites of Franklin and Eleanor in the nearby Rose Garden. At his request, the markers are plain white markers with only their names and dates. FDR’s grave is the one with the flag.
While this was not our favorite presidential library, we certainly learned a lot about the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and came away with a greater knowledge of this time in American history.