I watched the excellent The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns’s seven-part series on PBS this past fall and became even more impressed with Eleanor Roosevelt than I had been before. She was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, the daughter of his brother Elliot.
She married her fifth cousin Franklin Roosevelt on St. Patrick’s Day 1905 in New York City, “given away” by her uncle Teddy, who was by then President.
In spite of Franklin’s marital betrayal, which wounded Eleanor greatly, they were a dynamic political couple. She could sometimes say or do things that he, a more pragmatic state legislator, governor and eventually President, could not.
In the summer of 2013, my family visited Val-Kill, her place on the Hudson River not far from the home in Hyde Park that was her mother-in-law’s and where she seldom felt comfortable and welcomed. There is a kiosk there where one could read her My Day columns, which she wrote from 1936 to 1962, the year that she passed away.
After FDR died in 1945, she was appointed by President Truman to be a delegate to the group that would create the United Nations. She became a primary author of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.
For whatever reason, I wasn’t sleeping well a couple weeks ago. When I booked our hotel for our trip to the Mid-Hudson for the first weekend in August, in my fatigued fog, I totally forgot that my wife had told me to secure a place for TWO nights, and that she had even arranged for a cat sitter. I was just so happy that I finally remembered to book it at all. We had made this sojourn a couple hours south a few times, and it had always been one night. This time, though, we had added a couple elements, so the extra time would have been helpful.
Instead, we headed out Saturday and went to Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home. There will be much more on this.
The back story, part 1: The movie Hyde Park on the Hudson is based on the papers of some fifth cousin of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When she died at the age of 100 or so, it was revealed that FDR and Daisy had had a sexual and emotional liaison.
The back story, part 2: My family went to Hyde Park just this past summer, which is largely why The Wife and I decided to see this film this past Saturday, at the Spectrum 8 Theatre. The room was about 2/3s full.
The family was in the Mid-Hudson area of New York State back in in August. We were on the west side of the river, when we crossed the Mid-Hudson Bridge from Highland to Poughkeepsie.
Q: Wait, it’s now the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge. When did THAT happen?
A: The bridge was renamed… in 1994 though the span is rarely referred to by its official name.
Q: And why is it named for him anyway?
A: “Governor and local resident [FDR] and his wife Eleanor attended the opening ceremony on August 25, 1930.”
Q: And I mention this all because…
A: We needed to cross the bridge to visit Hyde Park, the location of the longtime home of the 32nd President of the US. It’s just five miles north of Poughkeepsie.
Q: So is the town or the FDR estate called Hyde Park?
A: Well, the town is, but the estate was. Continue reading Q is for Q&A about FDR→