Monday, September 29, 2014

A history lesson

Biscuit has learned a new song at school. It's about money.

It goes something like "penny, nickel, dime ... quarter, half-dollar." Then after they learned the song, they added a verse that names the presidents, "Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelk ... Washington, Kennedy."

And yep, Roosevelt is spelled wrong. But that's how Biscuit says it, so that's how I'm spelling it!

He was very excited when he heard that Roosevelk was on one of the coins because he learned about Roosevelk on a trip we took this summer.

We went to Warm Springs, Ga., back in July. That's where FDR went to help treat his polio.

Warm Springs is called Warm Springs because they have, guess what, natural warm springs! And when FDR found out about them, he built The Little White House there. And then he built a rehab center around the springs.

When FDR first moved into the house in Warm Springs, he had electricity hooked up. His first bill was four times the amount he was paying for his mansion in Hyde Park. Four times as much!

He spent a lot of time riding the back roads in his custom car. He designed it himself and had hand controls for the gas and brakes. It was on these rides that he realized how many people in the rural areas surrounding the town didn't even have electricity. And it was mainly because they couldn't afford it. So he came up with an affordable electricity project - the Rural Electrification Bill - to give power to farms and other rural buildings.

In addition to touring The Little White House, there's also a really nice museum. I always forget, until I go back there, just how much stuff happened while FDR was in office. There was the electricity project, the Great Depression, the public works project WPA, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Social Security, the New Deal and the list goes on. They don't sugar-coat him too much, though. They have a pretty extensive e xhibit about the internment camps that rounded up Japanese-Americans after the Pearl Harbor attack.

There's also a lot of information about polio, polio treatments and the braces and wheelchairs and other medical supplies of the era.

FDR actually died at The Little White House, and his body was taken by train to Washington. The people of Warm Springs were really affected by his death because so many of them encountered him on a regular basis.

Here are some pictures: 

There's a big timeline of FDR's life, including the fact that the
polio vaccination wasn't developed until 12 years after he died. 

This was one of the swimsuits FDR wore
when he did therapy at the warm pools.

See the two silver pipes at the bottom of this display? The one
on the left has water from the warm springs flowing through it.
The one on the right has regular spring water running
through it. There was quite a temperature difference.

Jeff reads about FDR's custom car.

Biscuit peeks out the window of an old house exhibit.

With electricity in rural houses, the residents could
listen to the president's Fireside Chats on the radio.

There was a shop in Warm Springs that made braces and other equipment.
FDR had his braces painted black from the knees down so if he was out
and about, and his pants leg inched up, the braces weren't quite as obvious.

FDR also designed skinnier wheelchairs
that could better maneuver around the pools.

An exhibit talking about the electricity project.

People sent one-of-a-kind canes to FDR from all over the
world. There is some beautiful woodwork in these cases.

This is a Marine guard post just outside The Little White House.

The Secret Service also had a station. The Secret Service office had
a nice desk and chair. The Marine station was four walls and a floor.

Here's The Little White House. People are usually surprised at how small it is.
It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a combined living room/dining
room. The basement had a couple of shower stalls for the Marines and Secret Service.
It's built into a hill, and there's a really pretty balcony off the back of the house.

The building on the left is servants' quarters, and the building on the right
is a guest house. Both buildings were actually pretty nice on the inside.

This is a Marine sentry post behind the house. I wouldn't
want to be on guard duty in bad weather or during the winter.

I really enjoyed looking at all the cookware, gadgets and utensils. FDR's mother
sent all kinds of fancy china - Spode, Royal Dalton, etc. - to be used at the house,
but FDR's favorite dishes came from a dime store in downtown Warm Springs.

The kitchen was a lot smaller than you'd probably guess. Of course, not many
people stayed at the house. There were some customized touches throughout,
like 2x4s stacked under the toilet to raise it to the same height as his wheelchair.
FDR slept in a twin-size bed that was also the same height as his wheelchair seat.

FDR died at The Little White House while a painter was still
working on a portrait. The unfinished work hangs in the museum.

The artist was so disappointed, that she decided to finish the
work even after he died. And Biscuit noticed within two minutes
that the only difference is that FDR is wearing a red tie in the
unfinished portrait and a blue one in the finished painting.

There were a lot of things that were over Biscuit's head, but he did seem interested. He asked a lot of questions, and he actually remembers a good bit of what we told him.

Of course, with Jeff's love of history, I think he enjoyed going more than anybody!

There are so many places like this, where you can show history instead of just talking about it. My parents took us to lots of places like this, and I hope to continue to do the same for Biscuit.

No comments: