“Warm Springs Townsmen Mourn Beloved Neighbor,” April 13, 1945
(The following is article appeared on p. 21 of the April 13, 1945 issue of the Atlanta Constitution)
Warm Springs Townsmen Mourn Beloved Neighbor
Warm Springs, Ga., April 12 – Thanksgiving, 1945, won’t be the same in this community as it was in years gone by.
This sleepy little town of several hundred inhabitants, mostly patients who have come back to bask in the warm health-giving magic blue waters of the bubbling spring, has lost its most beloved neighbor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
It was in this sun-bathed town at the foothills of the Blue ridge mountains that Neighbor Roosevelt first came in 1924. He was then a rising young statesman who was destined to become one of the world’s greatest figures. He had come here to begin his long fight to overcome the withering effects of infantile paralysis.
“Turkey Day” Regular
Seldom has been the time in the ensuing 21 years that Neighbor Roosevelt has missed a good old-fashioned turkey day dinner with the patients and residents of this, his second home.
In the days before he was elected to the presidency, Mr. Roosevelt made his annual trek to Warm Springs on Thanksgiving as regularly as he did in years after. Then he was “just an old friend” among the patients, doctors and nurses, and after he was elected he saw no reason for his dinner guests to single him out for attention either. His wish was obeyed and even though his guests knew they were dining with the most noted personality in the land they never expressed their sentiments openly.
It had become a tradition long cherished in the minds of the patients here – this business of eating turkey with the President.
Sat at Head of Table
He would sit at the head of a large table in the main dining room, surrounded by his hundreds of admirers and fellow patients and when grace was said he would carve the brown-roasted turkey and join in a merry Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmin’s.
After dinner he like to sit around the table and reminisce about the Warm Springs Foundation which he helped to create. He would tell the newcomers of his many visits here and of his hopes for adding on to the facilities of the hospital to take care of more infantile paralysis patients. His hopes, in a large measure, were carried out from contributions made through the “March of Dimes,” a fund-raising campaign conducted annually as a birthday present to him. And on each visit to the health center he reflected on the progress made since his last visit.
More than Second Home
Warm Springs was something more than just a second home, and his annual Thanksgiving visits were in no way the only times he chose to pay a call.
It was a haven of rest and solitude where he liked to retreat at times.
And so it was. Whenever the going got tough, the residents of this sun-bathed village began to look for another unannounced visit from their favorite neighbor, Mr. Roosevelt.
It was in the days before Pearl Harbor that the President sought rest and relaxation in the warm waters of the pool here. He cut short his brief visit and returned to Washington on special train to meet with the Japanese ambassador, who, history reveals, knifed the United States in the back.
On various other occasions, Mr. Roosevelt chose the red clay hills of Georgia as a place to get away from it all for a brief spell.
Recuperated From Trips
After the momentous conferences with Prime Minister Churchill and Marshal Stalin the President recuperated from the ordeal of sea travel and the long nights of planning and discussions by taking swims in the pool and going for long motor rides around the hills of the middle Georgia spot.
Not all of these visits were made known to the public. The Atlanta newspapers, as well as other papers in the country, honored the request not to publish anything about the President’s whereabouts while in Georgia. Oftentimes his trips to this state were kept secret long after he had returned to his desk in Washington.
The President passed through Atlanta approximately two weeks ago, but Southern railroad officials simply stated that his trip was confidential and added: “We can give out absolutely no information. We are bound by the greatest secrecy.”
The faithfulness and love of the Warm Springs residents for Mr. Roosevelt never relaxed and any “snoopers” were apt to be shooed away if they attempted to find out whether the President was in their midst.
On many of his excursions here, the President went for long rides in his low-priced car and it was not unusual to see him stop in the middle of the road and talk over problems of farming with some of those who earned their livelihood working the soil.
One and all loved him and although his plans for the foundation haven’t fully materialized, the hospital here will long remain as a monument to his humanitarian efforts. It is especially fitting that he chose Warm Springs to which to spend his remaining days. The people here were closest to him.
Atlanta Constitution, April 13, 1945, p.21