Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 21: Roosevelts’ Relics

FDR abundance quote!

This one’s for the inspirational quote lovers out there.

The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, NY, has many acres and an unwieldy name, but the heart of the complex is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum. It’s filled with genuine artifacts from the lives of President and Eleanor Roosevelt, souvenirs from the turbulent times in which they lived and effected change, and — in a display of candor rarely expressed in single-subject museums — acknowledgments of their flaws, examples of contrasting viewpoints, and mementos of their opponents. FDR was by no means perfect. Some lobbed deep criticisms in his direction, not all of them baseless. But like all the better American Presidents, signposts can be found along his timeline expressing his hopes and ideas of at least trying to improve our nation for the sake of all citizens, not for himself.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.

We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…

Now is the time when we button our lip and step inside the museum.


The first hallway sets the stage onto which Roosevelt entered, in the middle of the Great Depression that his predecessor Herbert Hoover had watched commence and failed to reverse. All told, voters in the 1932 election were keener on FDR’s “New Deal” platform than on Hoover’s “Look, Just Give Me Four More Years of Suffering and I Swear It’ll All Be Worth It”.

1910 State Senate!

Portrait of the young lawyer on the way to his first political office in 1910.

FDR campaign accessories!

Fashion accessories for supporters of his later Presidential campaigns.

FDR's office!

When not at the White House or traveling, this was FDR’s home office.

leg braces!

After polio struck in the early 1920s, accoutrements added to his routines included leg braces and pincers for grabbing faraway objects, in addition to the famous wheelchair.

1936 Ford Phaeton!

Roosevelt’s 1936 Ford Phaeton was modified with hand controls so he could keep on cruisin’ solo.

Four Freedoms 1 and 2!

After winning an unprecedented third term in office, his 1941 State of the Union address set forth his belief in the “Four Freedoms” that all humans worldwide ought to consider rights. You might recognize the first two from our Constitution.

Four Freedoms 3 and 4!

The idealistic Freedoms 3 and 4 went a bit beyond existing rule of law, but sounded great out loud.

Eleanor war gear!

Parts of Eleanor’s life can also be found throughout the museum, such as this wartime uniform.

Eleanor Roosevelt books!

Selected works from the bibliography of author Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote or co-wrote 27 in all. Good luck finding another First Lady remotely her equal.

Eleanor's typewriter!

Eleanor’s typewriter, reminding us writers don’t need microchips to be prolific.

Shirley Temple March of Dimes!

Another lady on Roosevelt’s side: li’l actress Shirley Temple, campaigning to end polio on behalf of the March of Dimes, founded under a longer, duller name by Roosevelt in 1938.

Prohibition repeal party set!

That killjoy Prohibition was ended on Roosevelt’s watch when the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th in 1933. Much partying ensued, some using this commemorative set bearing the faces of FDR, New York Governor Alfred Smith, and Democratic Party chairman James Farley.

FDR Sphinx!

When FDR was initially enigmatic about his thoughts on seeking a third term, this papier-mâché Sphinx parody awaited him at the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner in 1940.

Leo Roche 1939 political cartoon!

Not everyone was thrilled with the idea of a President overstaying his welcome, including cartoonist Leo Roche in this 1939 strip.

anti-FDR campaign buttons!

Before the Nazis grabbed the world’s attention, Americans fought not with guns and ammo, but with dueling political buttons.

Fala statue!

On the brighter side: doggie! A small statue honors his dog Fala, a Scottish Terrier who outlived his master and kept Eleanor company till 1952.

Roosevelts busts!

More busts not unlike those we saw outside,, but now with Eleanor as well as FDR.

And then came World War II…

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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