“I Want Roosevelt Again”: Scenes from Hyde Park

Franklin D. Roosevelt may have presided over the worst financial collapse of the twentieth century, but his luxurious Hydeaway estate (sorry, I’ll stop) reeks of old money. It’s no wonder young Franklin grew up riding, shooting, rowing, sailing, and learning German (yes, you read that correctly). Them Roosevelts and Delanos had mad dough.

I was strictly forbidden from photographing the interior of FDR’s house, but believe me when I say there’s a snuggery. Here is the outside:

And here is a shot of the genial tourists accompanying us on this journey, most of whom appear old enough to remember the Roosevelt administration. Can’t wait to see who shows up at the Cleveland birthplace next week.

Here is an excerpt from my notes while touring FDR’s house:

No working ramps—how did he get into the house?

In 1982 there was a fire on the 3rd floor.

What the fuck is a snuggery???

Why is this tour guide so obsessed with FDR’s handicap?

As previously indicated, Hyde Park was not only Roosevelt’s birthplace—it was his childhood home, his lifetime retreat (to which he made 133 trips during his presidency), the site of two historic Fireside Chats, and his burial place.

Oh—and his dog’s burial place. That’s a unique one. Meet Fala, the beloved Scottish Terrier who outlived his presidential master by seven years. Wikipedia identifies Fala as the second most famous American terrier of his day, after Toto from The Wizard of Oz. The dog’s statue sits besides the FDR memorial in DC. Here’s the Hyde Park exhibit:

Amusingly, I had just the previous night watched Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris’s fantastic oddball documentary chronicling a pet cemetery in California. Eleanor’s account of Fala’s sadness following Franklin’s death is actually quite heartbreaking. I suggest you skip it . . .

It was Fala, my husband’s little dog, who never really readjusted. Once, in 1945, when General Eisenhower came to lay a wreath on Franklin’s grave, the gates of the regular driveway were opened and his automobile approached the house accompanied by the wailing of the sirens of a police escort. When Fala heard the sirens, his legs straightened out, his ears pricked up and I knew that he expected to see his master coming down the drive as he had come so many times. Later, when we were living in the cottage, Fala always lay near the dining-room door where he could watch both entrances just as he did when his master was there. Franklin would often decide suddenly to go somewhere and Fala had to watch both entrances in order to be ready to spring up and join the party on short notice. Fala accepted me after my husband’s death, but I was just someone to put up with until the master should return.

. . . and instead enjoy this photo of my mom looking like a Happy & Proud Amrrrrican:

And here is my full FDR gallery. Go nuts.


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