|THE GREATEST GENERATION'S PRESIDENT...map|
le White ...
Here in Georgia, we have had the honor of three modern era presidents calling the state home. One, Jimmy Carter, was born here. A second, Woodrow Wilson, practiced law in Atlanta. The final one died here. I visited the home away from the White House for one of the greatest Presidents in United States History, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
About two hours outside of the ATL, Southeast on 85, lies the pretty little town of Warm Springs, Georgia. The town and FDR's relationship to the city were immortalized in the HBO movie, starring Kenneth Branagh, Warm Springs. While I was there, I was struck by how fortunate we were as a nation, to have a President forced by conditions, namely a paralyzing polio condition, to spend significant time among the people. Lord, we could use that now.
I sort of wish I didn't have to do this, but a short (and incomplete list) of FDR's accomplishments must be listed:
1. Only four time elected President
2. Presided over the reconstruction of the Country during and exiting the depression.
3. Created the Securities and Exchange Commission protecting our investments
4. Created the TVA, modernizing agriculture and creating power generation in many locales and the Rural Electrification Act, which brought affordable electricity to areas that were unserved prior.
5. Creation of the Social Security System, the most successful program in the history of U.S. governance.
6. Rallied American Forces and People's Spirits through the bombing of American Ship's at Pearl Harbor and the Great War vs. Nazi Germany.
The town is quaint and small. I was only a little disappointed because the Warm Springs of Warm Springs were listed as one of the,Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia, but they really weren't accessible for viewing. The main springs are still being used by the Roosevelt Institute for Rehabilitation and on hospital property and it would be unfair to the disabled folks to be inundated by gawking visitors.
The Little White House charged a small $7 dollar admission. I thought it was worth it. The first museum had several displays about FDR's reforms and some about Eleanor, and an interesting forked family tree, linking Franklin to his cousin, and fellow President, Teddy. The most fascinating feature was one of FDR's custom fitted automobiles, designed to allow a Polio victim to navigate a vehicle completely by hand. Also, there was a complete wall of canes, mostly handmade, given to the President by fans and followers who had no idea how serious his condition was.
Leaving the First Museum, one can walk up a tribute to the fifty states, each carved out of stone native to that state. Then you approach the White house compound.
The compound consists of three buildings, the main building (the Little White House), Servants Quarters and Garage, and the Guest house. The tour guides are older folk who personify the stereotype of Southern Hospitality in the best possible way. They tell in great detail the story of the last days of FDR.
Inside the Main Building, the highlight is the actual chair that Roosevelt was sitting in when he had the Cerebral Hemorrhage that ended his life. His final words were reportedly, "I have a terrific headache." Additionally, you can see his bed, desk, fireplace, and various other artifacts of the Great President.
FDR was having a portrait done at the time of his demise. That unfinished portrait is hanging in the final museum by the entrance. It is haunting considering the circumstance in which it was created.
The folks at the Site will gladly give you directions to the Rehabilitation facilities public showcase, where you can learn about what created the Warm Springs and many of their rehabilitative techniques. You will be completely enthralled by the swimming pool facilities. Primarily, understanding that they are the very same pools in which the former President swam among the people, and secondly because they are built completely on top of one of the fabled natural springs. Unfortunately, the pools are drained to help preserve them, but there is a simple fountain where you can touch and feel the mineral rich water. The temperature of the Water was 86 degrees on February 20th of this year. For a small donation, you can buy a bottle to fill yourself and take home as a souvenir.
The town was mostly shut down on Monday. But there are quaint little shops that bustle on the weekends, in an area known as Bullochsville. Nearby is the Pine Mountain Trail (Wolfden Loop), Dowdell's Knob (FDR's favorite Picnic Spot), and Callaway Gardens.