FDR's Spirit Found Alive And Well
(Hyde Park, New York) High on a bluff above the Hudson River stands the house where FDR was born. He brought his bride, Eleanor, here on their wedding night. It was always, for him, home.
Roosevelt sid, "All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River." He did come back here 200 times while he was president.
Springwood is getting a long overdue paint job. Inside, though, things are much as they have ever been.
Ms. Diane Lobb Boyce: We call it the entrance hall and...
Smith: Diane Lobb Boyce has cataloged every item in this house of history. She knows why thousands of people visit here every year.
Ms. Lobb Boyce: There are lots of folks around, probably between 50 and 85, who are thankful for Social Security or bringing them out of the Depression.
Unidentified Announcer (from vintage footage): The Queen Mother Mary was a long time...
Smith: The Roosevelts entertained the king and queen of England here, served them hot dogs. And Winston Churchill made three trips, sometimes padding around the house in his pajamas. FDR's favorite room was the library-living room, surrounded by books and his treasured paintings of ships at sea. Late most afternoons, he'd sit at this desk and study his stamps.
Ms. Lobb Boyce: I think it took him away. It gave him a way to relax. He could actually tune out the war. And then when the hour was up, just close the book and go to the next crisis or whatever might be happening.
Smith: Often what was next was the fabled 'children's hour,' cocktail time.
Ms. Lobb Boyce: They say he made a wicked martini, that he just whipped the vermouth bottle under your nose and you'd just get a whiff of the vermouth and that'd be it.
This is the dressing room that he designed...
Smith: Tour the house and see the bed in which he was born, the wheelchair he designed out of a kitchen chair and bicycle tires, the room where he slept.
Ms. Lobb Boyce: He really came and spent time in it, yeah...
Ms. Lobb Boyce: ...probably because of the polio. But he...
Ms. Lobb Boyce: ...liked to be here in the morning and go over the morning reports, the newspapers. He had a direct line to the White House if anything was going on.
Smith: Is that this right here?
Ms. Lobb Boyce: That's the phone right there.
Smith: Fala, his dog, slept here, too. Eleanor did not.
You have FDR in one bedroom, Eleanor Roosevelt in the next bedroom, and then whose bedroom was this?
Ms. Lobb Boyce: This was Mama's bedroom, sir.
Smith: This was?
Springwood was, after all, Roosevelt's mother's house, never Eleanor's. Eleanor had heown place two miles away.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (from audiotape): Together we cannot fail.
Smith: Some rooms, like his study, feel like they're waiting for Roosevelt's return.
Mr. Roosevelt: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Smith: There will never be another man so important to this century, a man whose presence is felt still.
Your father was...
Ms. Lobb Boyce: My father came here as part of FDR's Secret Service detail and my mother was going to college locally. And so I probably wouldn't be here if it weren't for FDR.
Smith: Many other Americans feel much the same way. Harry Smith, CBS News, Hyde Park, New York.
First aired on the CBS Evening News
May 02, 1997