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Whistle Stop: 1936

Whistle Stop: 1936

August 1936. "Tour of drought area. President Roosevelt speaking from train at Bismarck, North Dakota." Medium format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

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It's plainly Franklin Jr. and not James.

[Indeed. Three examples. - tterrace]

Family support

Although James was reported to be the one with his father, this certainly looks more like Franklin, Jr., who had just celebrated his 22nd birthday 10 days before. Not visible in the photo but also on the rear platform of the train was FDR's daughter, Anna. At right is ND Governor Walter Welford. Film footage of the event is here.

Indiscreet then but history now

A long gone friend of my Father, Dr.Howard Rosenthall, somehow managed to film FDR in his actual physical state being helped from his limo during a visit to Vassar College. At the time this was NOT the correct thing to do; but, I am told, his film ended up at the Roosevelt Library were it is kept as a historical item.

"1936, You call this a drought?

wait for the next two years."

Lean on me

FDR is gripping the arm of what I believe to be his son James. Roosevelt was completely paralyzed below the waist and had to use other people to help create the illusion of his being able to stand and walk. Great care was made to foster this illusion and the press generally went along with it. To this day there are no more than a handful of photographs of FDR in a wheelchair or that show his leg braces.

This is one reason so many photos of him were taken on the back of trains, where he could grip the railing, or in open cars where he didn't need to be seen moving under his own power. In fact whenever he was expected to deliver an outdoor speech other than from a rail car the Secret Service would build wooden ramps on the speaking platform so his car could drive right up onto the stage behind all of the dignitaries. who served to mask FDR from the crowds and cameras. Then they would pick him up from his car and stand him up with his leg braces and more or less carry him, one man on each side, to the speaking podium. Roosevelt would swing his arms and it appeared to all but those right next to him that he was walking.

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