FDR in a Dress?! 7 Strange Things I Learned at the Franklin Roosevelt Museum
Franklin D. Roosevelt is considered by many historians to be among the top 5 greatest presidents of all time. During the 1930s and 1940s, when America was in the throes of a Great Depression, it was Roosevelt's New Deal policies that helped bring America to his feet, even when the man himself could not stand.
It seems a president of his caliber deserves a great museum, and the FDR National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York is exactly that.
I recently toured the museum and found 7 strange things I didn't know about the 32nd president:
FDR WORE A DRESS... AS A CHILD
Apparently, during the late 1800s, it was typical for children of either sex to wear dresses, as it made changing diapers easier. As far as the length of his hair, it was also not uncommon for children to not get their first haircut until the age of 7 or 8.
THE MUSEUM HAS A LOCK OF HIS HAIR
Roosevelt came from a very rich family, and it was his doting mother Sara Delano who retained a lot of the items from his youth for prosperity. One of these keepsakes was a lock of FDR's long hair that was cut during his first haircut.
I don't know why, but this struck me as very unusual, but also very cool. It means we could clone the 32nd president or run a DNA test on him if there were ever any reason to do so.
FDR SMOKED CAMELS
FDR was brand loyal to Camels. Most presidents used tobacco of some kind. Even Obama was a smoker.
FDR IS THE ONLY PRESIDENT TO BE BURIED ALONGSIDE HIS DOG
FDR's home of Springwood is located next to the museum, and he's buried on the property next to his wife, Eleanor... but also shares a plot with his famous Scottish terrier, Fala.
FDR WORE A CAPE
During his last year as president, FDR often wore a black cape, like Batman. He wore it to the famous 1945 Yalta Conference with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. The cape is on display at the museum.
FDR READ MYSTERY NOVELS
FDR apparently liked to read mystery novels, when he could catch a rare break from trying to save the world. This novel below was on his bedside in Warm Springs, Georgia when he died. Eerily, it was dog-eared on a chapter called "Six Feet of Earth."
THE MUSEUM HAS THE ACTUAL COPIES OF HIS FAMOUS SPEECHES
The FDR museum has some of the best-kept archives of any president. They even held onto the actual pages he read for his speeches. Many of these typewritten pages have handwritten notations on them. For a history buff like me, that strikes me as pretty cool. Pictured below is a copy of his famous "Fear Itself" speech.
Regardless of your political leanings, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site is a must-visit for any history buff. Hyde Park is about 21/2 hours away and makes for a great day trip.