ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D.

Poking Fun at Polio

$750

Item #20092


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ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D. - Poking Fun at Polio
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ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D. - Poking Fun at Polio

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ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D. (1882-1945). Thirty-second president of the United States. Menu Signed. (“Franklin D. Roosevelt”). 6pp. Small 4to. (Warm Springs), November 27, 1934. (To Joanne Doran.) A hand-painted satirical menu for the 1934 Founders Day celebrations at Warm Springs in the form of a mock dedication of the “Brace Lines” steamship “Paral,” featuring a white and blue watercolor on the cover of a wincing sailor wearing a full-leg brace and holding a crutch and a cane. Additionally signed by First lady, author and humanitarian ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (1884-1962, “Eleanor Roosevelt”).

 

During a 1921 vacation at Campobello Island,at the age of 39, Roosevelt contracted polio, threatening the future of his public career. Despite paralysis from the waist down, Roosevelt refused to succumb to the disease and its physical limitations. In his continuing search for a cure FDR visited a spa at Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1924. There Roosevelt swam daily in the therapeutic waters, a regimen that developed his upper body and offered him increased mobility. Impressed with the results and the facility, Roosevelt purchased the spa in 1926 and, in 1934, established the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, a hydrotherapeutic center for the treatment of polio victims, a facility that still exists today as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

 

Beginning in 1925, Roosevelt began an annual tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving at Warm Springs, which he did in 1934 between November 24th and 30th. “Every Thanksgiving Day, also known as Founders Day, was a joyous occasion. The patients and staff sat at a very long table in long and narrow Georgia Hall, the wheelchairs drawn up so that the waiters could pass behind. When Roosevelt became President, reporters and Secret Service men were added to the diners. After the turkey was duly carved and eaten, and the pumpkin pie had been served, Roosevelt gave an informal speech, filled with jokes and reminiscences about the early days of Warm Springs. Then, the patients performed plays and skits, most of them with mischievous and humorous overtones,” (“November 24-30, 1939: A Warm Springs Thanksgiving,” www.schillerinstitute.org).

 

Our jocular, handmade menu lists Roosevelt as Captain and Commander of the “Steamship ‘Paral’ of the Brace Lines” and commemorates “the Maiden Voyage of the Steamship,” undoubtedly referring to the recent official establishment of the Warm Springs Foundation. It lists staff with darkly humorous names as well as a menu with such dishes as “quadriceps on toast,” “tibial tidbits,” “hamstring beans,” and “scoliosis potatoes.” A “passenger list” at the end includes 72 names including Joanne Doran’s, which is circled in ink. Doran was treated at Warm springs at the age of 18 months and she and her twin sister were among 12 children at Roosevelt’s Thanksgiving dinner two days later November 29, 1934. The following day the patients performed a musical for the president and first lady entitled, “A Sailor’s Sweetheart: The S.S. Paral-Brace Lines,” about Popeye and Olive Oyl.

 

Bound with blue and white yarn. Irregular age toning, significant mounting traces and minor wear to the cover. In very good condition. A touching, humorous and unusual item! Very rare.

 

Item #20092 

 

$750


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