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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 15th Visit to Georgia

Fifteenth Visit

November 8 - December 10, 1928

Roosevelt returned to Warm Springs to rest, exercise, recuperate from his successful gubernatorial campaign, and to prepare for his return to active governing. He was in a jubilant mood and his always perkish sense of humor was at its best. When a New York manufacturer of arch supports and foot appliances wrote him, including five questions in his letter, Roosevelt responded with a remarkable touch! Though he actually sent a more polite reply to the letter, his initial responses clearly showed his humorous nature:

“Q. Can you walk without a cain or some assistants? Roosevelt’s response: I cannot walk without a CAIN because I am not ABEL. Q. Does both your shoes fit you even? Roosevelt’s response: They fit me EVEN unless by accident I put on an ODD shoe - Ha Ha. Q. Are you inclined to have a weakness also in the ankle? Roosevelt’s response: I have my little weakness like everybody else (Rotten). Q. Are you sure of your step? Roosevelt’s response: We all have to watch our step with so many prohibition agents around. (Not so good). Q. Have you any pain below the hips? If so tell me where? Roosevelt’s response: My principal pain is in the neck when I get letters like this - (That will hold him).” Source: Theo Lippman, Jr., The Squire of Warm Springs: F.D.R. in Georgia 1924-1945, (Playboy Press, Chicago, 1977), p. 58.

The mention of prohibition brings up an interesting note. Roosevelt never lacked for alcoholic beverages at his Warm Springs parties, and never got in trouble with the law because of it. Rumor had it that this was so because one of his main suppliers was the Meriwether County sheriff!

At Thanksgiving Roosevelt carved the first turkey at what would become an annual Founder’s Day Thanksgiving dinner. His health was as good as it had been since he had contracted polio. His chest and arms were powerful from his swimming, and he carried a robust 190 pounds on his six-foot frame. Tanned and fit, he would lead the companions in their daily exercises and participate with them in whimsical speeches and skits in the evening. After his Founder’s Day speech on Thanksgiving he challenged a group of the physiotherapists to a game of water football in the new glass enclosed pool. The “football” was a sponge wrapped in oilskin; the object of the game was to get the “ball’ from one end of the pool to the other. Roosevelt brashly predicted victory; even though his team of companions lost the game it was one of the highest moments of his sojourn at Warm Springs – enjoying the warm water, sheltered pool, and camaraderie before undertaking his responsibilities in the outside world. At the time the country was in an economic boom; no one realized the stock market crash and beginning of the Great Depression were less than a year away. Even before he had assumed state office and before catastrophe struck the country, some of the companions and his Georgia neighbors were suggesting Roosevelt might be headed for greater things – like the presidency.