Sunday, March 2, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
As It really Happened:
February 20, 1945
February 20, 1945
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I am often asked where I got all my information from. Most people assume that there is a file at the FDR Library or some learned treatise that lays out the truth of Franklin Roosevelt's medical history and that an autopsy was performed that confirms the existence of the multiple cancers that were ultimately responsible for the deterioration and demise of our late, great thirty-second POTUS.
Of course this is not the case. The pieces reside scattered in countless volumes and documents, often just a word, a phrase or sentence or paragraph.
We have been able to reconstruct the puzzle, not completely, but enough to see the big picture.
I recently found another small but significant piece in a work I was made aware of by a wonderful South Carolina historian who is researching an important book on Marguerite "Missy" LeHand, the first second, third or fourth most important woman in FDR's life if one were to try to assign priority with Margaret Suckley, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd and Eleanor (my take is a very close number two to ER).
The information is contained in a wonderful book entitled "Behold the Dreamer", the story of Fulton Oursler, the reporter who did quite a bit to get FDR elected in 1932. The last portion of the book is actually a separate work entitled "Through the White House Side Door". Incidentally the side door was the one where people could come and go without being "signed in" a la Howard Bruenn.
Aside from many wonderful anecdotes worth reading by the FDR afficionado, the last sentence on page 439 describes an incident where FDR "got his dutch up" and reads "I noticed a flap of flesh that had grown over his left eye and other visible physical deteriorations."
For the record, he "flap of skin" did not grow there, it was put there as a graft to cover up the ongoing removal of FDR's melanoma. What Oursler saw saw is likely what can be observed in the accompanying photograph, this one from 1942. To directly dispute what Howard Bruenn told Jan Herman in 1989, this is not a "photographic error".
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Once upon a time there was a handsome young prince named Franklin who was born in a castle aside the river that flows to the great city. He lived in great privilege and comfort, the only child of a Duke and Dutchess born of the families that long ago had come across the sea and settled in Gotham in the Land of Freedom.
It was the Prince’s destiny to become a great King of the Land of Freedom, but only should he marry a duckling with whom he must remain for the entirety of his mortal life. For the duckling was also a scion, and though homely of countenance was most attractive to the Prince as she was the favorite of her uncle, the King of Sagamore by the bay, whom the Prince wished to follow into greatness.
The Prince had been lonely as he was schooled in the ways of the world cloistered in his castle until a young man. After fourteen years, the Prince was dispatched to a School of Princes and then to the great College of Princes near the City of the Bay as had the KIng of Sagamore before him. When the Duke died the Minister of the School of Princes did offer him solace and wise counsel as though a father.
The Duckling was forlorn as well, as her mother had died when she was but eight and her father, the brother of the King of Sagamore, had passed on soon after under an evil spell that very early took him from the land of Gotham, never to return.
Much to the consternation of the Dutchess, the Prince did court the Duckling, and she soon fell under his powerful spell. At the royal wedding the Minister did preside and the Prince felt duly regal as the King of Sagamore delivered the Duckling to him.
For a time, they lived happily in the land beside the river and summered on an island of beauty in the north, and she bore him five chicks. Soon after, the Prince came upon a Gnome who was a soothsayer and prophet of his greatness and together they set out upon the golden road to win his kingdom. The Prince won praise as a fighter of the Tigers who had come to rule his domain and when the Prince was struck ill of fever the Gnome did most admirably advocate for him.
With the Gnome at his side, the Prince departed the land of Gotham for the City of KIngs to assist the leader of the soldiers of the sea. He was pleased, for the vessels of the sea had always brought him great joy and again he did continue in the footsteps of the King of Sagamore. The leader afforded the Prince great power in the City of KIngs and it made him feel strong. Here he met a Spider who was a herald and spoke well of his deeds.
But now the prince came upon a beautiful Swan, for whom he felt great love and wished to sacrifice the prospect of his future kingdom. The Duckling, who had been forewarned, came upon letters that spoke of the Prince’s affection for the Swan. With great vigor the Dutchess and the Duckling beseeched the Prince that the Swan, however beautiful, must be cast aside, for they both desired him to be King in their own way and he could never be so in her presence. And the Prince most reluctantly consented, for the prospect his Kingdom was most alluring, but for his transgression of passion the Duckling did now forever bar him from her most intimate affections.
And so the Prince and the Gnome continued their journey on the golden road. All appeared well as the Prince was acclaimed across the land. But alas, one day whilst summering on the beautiful island he was most unexpectedly struck down by a crippling plague that for a time stripped him of his royal demeanor. Possessed of great determination, he would again take up his quest, with the help of the Gnome, the Duckling, and now a Goose who had come to assist him. On withered legs for all to see the Prince most bravely sung the praises of a Warrior of the Tigers who wished to be king, but the power of the Elephants who ruled the land was too great. Yet the people had come to know of the Prince’s courage and he was pleased.
Though forever smitten by the Swan, who had found a measure of contentment with an elder Cygnet far from the land of Gotham, the Prince came to admire the Goose, who attended to his needs and fell most deeply under his spell, and with whom he did consort as the Duckling and the Chicks accepted with quiet resignation, for the Prince was indeed of greatness and the providence and expectation of his future kingdom was paramount to all.
And the Prince built the Duckling a cottage on the creek of Val Kill near the castle of the Dutchess, where she lived with a nest of ducklings with whom she flourished and built a royal domain of her own. Soon the Duckling came upon a Hen, a herald and scribe as had been the Gnome, with whom she would share great affection.
And when the Wizard of the withering plague died, the Prince, with the Goose at his side on the raft Larooco and then beside the waters of the great Warm Spring of the south did himself become a great Wizard. As he was most enamored of the healing waters, he took nearly all the gold he possessed and purchased the land so that others of the plague might be restored as well. And he sought the counsel of a Wizard of the Sea whom he had befriended during their service to the King of the Great War.
And now a Knight of Eire came to him to hasten his journey to the throne. For the Knight was a maker of Kings and had done good deeds in the service of the King of the Tigers. A time of great decision arose as the Prince was implored to govern the land of Gotham as had the King the Sagamore before him. And though his legs were yet withered, the time was ripe and he cast aside his wizardly endeavors to pursue his destiny with the greatest of vigor.
The Duckling was torn, for her cottage and her court were now most comfortable and she knew that great changes would come to pass and that her life could never be the same. Indeed, she went with the Prince, for now she loved him as a brother and wished not to cast a shadow upon his dream.
And it came to pass that the elephants had governed poorly and a great famine came upon the people of the Land of Freedom, for the bankers and brokers in the city of Gotham did act most unwisely. (alas, a most similar misfortune would come to pass three score and ten years hence, for, in this case, the elephants had forgotten!).
And the people rose up and did mandate the Prince to ascend to the throne and restore them to prosperity. At his coronation, the new King spoke to the people most eloquently and forcefully to assuage their fears. The Wizard of the Sea presided and saw that the Swan, who had indeed remained spellbound, could bear witness. And the Wizard brought a second Wizard to attend to the King and with him a Fox to soothe him as he had done for the King of the Great War in his years of infirmity. And he brought a loyal Lion as well, to ease the King’s burden and to walk with him. The King was pleased and took the new Wizard, the Lion and the Fox into his most intimate court.
Now the new King Franklin and his Goose and the new Queen and her Hen all took residence, along with the Gnome, in the royal White Castle in the City of Kings.
As never before, a whirlwind of great changes came to pass. To bring the people out from the abyss that the elephants had created, the new King enlisted a parliament of owls most learned in the ways of the world, a shepherdess of the laborers he had long known, given power that no woman had known before and a Greyhound to rightly administer the good offices of a New Deal that he had conceived. And the offices bore names of but letters of the alphabet that in turn became symbols of a spirit of hope and restored prosperity. The Greyhound returned the people to work to rebuild the land and as he had promised most emphatically, the new King did champion the repeal of the prohibition of drink that had been most unwisely imposed.
As no King had done before he did banter most regularly with a gaggle of heralds that the Spider had gathered. And they spoke well of him, for had they not, they most surely would have fallen from favor and been banished. And as if magic he spoke to the people in their homes as they sat beside the hearth to tell of his good deeds and assure them that their future would be bright, and he curried great favor in their hearts and minds.
And the many fruits of his good deeds remain, celebrated by his subjects whom he and the shepherdess endowed with comfort in their later years as none had been known before and by the sons and daughters of his warriors to whom he gave a gift of learning after their days of battle, and for the hope he exuded and the passion he showed for ruling his kingdom during a reign of unprecedented and never to be repeated duration.
As the KIng was now most powerful, he no longer wished the people to think of his withered legs as he wanted to appear most strong in their eyes, so he commanded the Spider to spin a web whereupon the image makers would not show it, nor the heralds speak of it. And as he was often unwell, the King commanded the Spider and the Second Wizard to spin webs to assure the heralds and the people that he was strong.
As the Gnome was now weak of body, the Greyhound rose to a position of great favor, but then he too fell most gravely ill. Though relieved by a miracle of the knife, he was left forever wanting of sustenance and the King enlisted the Wizards of the Sea to sustain him. By great fortune this was so.
Yet, alas, as the King performed good deeds and the people did most convincingly mandate his reign for a second time, a more malignant and dread affliction befell him that all the greatest wizards had little power to stop. And its story could never be told, for its curse was so strong that should it had been revealed, the people would no longer permit him to be their King, and this could never come to pass. And its secret was so deep that even the Queen and the Chicks could not know of it, nor of all the great Wizards who would come to fight it.
And when the King was troubled that the nine elder trolls of supreme justice did challenge the authority of his reign, he took great measure to diminish their power. But here he did fail, as the people spoke out in rebuke, for even the greatest of kings could not be permitted to undo the scroll of laws that the fathers of their land had written and that he had sworn twice to protect.
And as the Gnome had died, the Greyhound took his place in the great White Castle so that his King might be best served.
There came a time where the King did need the people to affirm his reign for a third time, as no King had done before. But this was a time when his mortal body felt most unwell as the Wizards did valiantly fight the great curse. In a moment of despair the King told the Knight of his weariness, and the Knight took it as a sign that he might not seek to remain on the throne. For a time, the Knight aspired to assume it. After a voyage of healing and a period of great consternation, the King was restored, and though the Knight withdrew, as the mythical Icarus of yore, he had flown too close to the sun and was forever banished from the royal court.
Through all, the people knew little of the Goose who had sustained and nurtured their King until she herself fell silent. For the Queen had achieved a greatness of her own measure, as she had roved far and wide and became known as a champion of goodness and freedom. As such the people were happy with the image of togetherness of the King and Queen, knowing not that they lived in separate cottages with separate courts to attend them.
Now a great war was raging in foreign lands and the King dispatched the Greyhound to meet with a golden-throated Bulldog of the great island in the Atlantic, whose domain had nearly been conquered by a most evil Brown Ogre. And the Greyhound told the King of the power of the Bulldog. As the King and the Bulldog were kindred spirits they came together to lay down a charter of freedom and a plan for the future of the world. And the King spoke eloquently of his nation as an Arsenal of Democracy and thus did sustain the domain of the Bulldog with loans of goods, even as a great Eagle and the many that followed him did most vigorously disapprove. And the King spoke most eloquently that all peoples of the world should be free of hunger, fear and want and that they might worship without incumbrance.
But yet again the King’s mortal body would fail him, for as he spoke at the home of the King of the Great War in the valley of the river Shenandoah he fell gravely ill with a dearth of blood that robbed him of his strength. And though he nearly died, the Spider and the Second Wizard spun a web and the people were be told but little of it, yet all the King’s Wizards could not discover of what had afflicted him.
After an image he had drawn, the King built a great temple of health on the healing land of Bethesda, so that the Wizards might best sustain him and to soothe the wounds of the soldiers of battle. And in great secrecy he went there often to be restored.
And as he now knew that the curse would surely return to take him, he built a library next to the castle of the Dutchess, as no King had done before, to preserve the images he had created. In his repository, he placed documents that did attest to his greatness yet little that spoke of his infirmities and none of his most secret affliction. And he beseeched the deeply spellbound Maiden of Wilderstein to assist him, and she most gladly followed, for he had often spoken to her with an intimacy as only few had known.
And when the Dutchess died, a great oak on her land fell as though an omen of her passing. For her castle was now but an ornament, as the King had built a cottage of his own and the Queen had been long absent.
Now it came to pass that leaders of the evil Empire of the Rising Sun did without notice most dastardly smite the vessels of the Land of Freedom. In his finest hour, he gallantly spoke of a day of infamy and of how his people would prevail and his words became a rallying cry and his voice and image sentinels of freedom. And the screams of the Eagle were most abruptly silenced.
And as the Cygnet had died, the Swan came again to comfort the King, as did a princess of the land of Odin.
As the Ogre and a Black Duke of Italy had joined the Empire of the Rising Sun to form an axis of evil, the King sent the Greyhound to a Red Bear of the east who had been crossed by the Ogre. And the Greyhound told him of how the Bear could help him fight the Ogre. With the greatest power of all, the King joined the Bulldog, the Bear and a Blue Dragon of the Orient, and led them in their fight against the axis.
The King traveled with the Bulldog to the land of the Moors to plan great battles and most surprisingly declared that he would offer no mercy to the evil axis. And there they met with a pompous Peacock of Gaul whose domain had been conquered by the Ogre. And then he traveled to the land of the Persians to lay his eyes upon the Bear. With a most reluctant Bulldog, they did plan a time that a great invasion of the Ogre’s fortress would come to pass and they spoke in earnest of the shape of the world after the evil axis had been conquered.
But, alas, while in the land of the Persians a great pain came upon the KIng that was a harbinger of the return of the dreaded curse. And the Second Wizard did most surreptitiously bring a flock of Great Wizards of the Knife to attend him, but the curse had spread within his mortal body and could no longer be excised. And the vigor of the King did now inexorably decline, for now his stout heart did also fail. And though the die had been cast, the second Wizard brought a powerful third Wizard of the heart to hold off the angel of death.
As the King knew he would soon be no longer, he planned a great Temple of Peace for all
the kings of the world so that his memory would be forever honored, as he had borne witness to failure of the King of The Great War to do so, and how it had devastated him.
And when the kingmakers saw their King was weakened, they did enquire as to whom might succeed to his throne, but the King cared little for who was chosen, for his waning powers were now consumed by his Temple of Peace.
The King planned a meetings with the Bulldog to speak of the great invasion and to be at his side on the great day, but he had not the strength to make the journeys. And he went to the Temple at Bethesda and the Wizard of the Heart was most appalled, for he now knew that only with the most powerful medicines could the King continue his reign.
One last time, the Second Wizard called together all of the great Wizards to save their King, but they were powerless. Now the Wizard of the Heart could never leave the King’s side, for he alone could sustain him. And the King was taken to the land of a Baron of the South to be restored, as the first Wizard had done before him. With a roster of afflictions to which weaker men would surely succumb, he valiantly fought on.
As he sat with his admirals and generals on a distant island, the Goose died and the King dispatched the Queen to honor her, for though he most dutifully had assured her comfort, he could never bear witness to her weakness. As the voice of the Goose had been silenced in life, so were her writings in death, for the tales they told could never be known.
With great effort, the people were made to believe that their King was strong. As if a miracle, before a flock of laborers he most skillfully spun a ribald tale of a dog that the Maiden had given him and the people yet again affirmed him to be their leader. At his last coronation, he called upon all the remaining strength he possessed to speak but briefly and with great discomfort. Hereafter he would stand no more.
On their last great voyage, the ailing King and Greyhound and Lion traveled to the Palace of the Emperors on the Black Sea in the land of the Bear. And now the King could no longer hide his weakness. While the Bulldog gasped in horror at the plight of his friend, the wily Bear now knew that he would be strong. Indeed, the King did secretly give him a gift of great power, for without the Bear, his Temple of Peace would be but a sham. And the Bear used the power the King gave him to give strength to a Red Dragon, long a rival of the Blue Dragon who had fought the evil Empire of the Rising Sun long before the world knew of the bad deeds it performed.
As he returned the from land of the Bear, the Lion died, and the the King was most despondent, for he had not only lost a loyal courtesan but had been most bitterly reminded that his own time was growing ever short. Soon, he spoke to the people to tell of his vision for the future of the world. But now his legs were too weak to carry him and the voice that had once been a clarion call of hope was now but a whisper, and the portent of death loomed on his countenance for all to see.
One last time he returned to the land of the Warm Spring to be restored, but it was not to be so. And when he died, his beloved Swan and devoted Maiden were at his side.
And though his body was no more his powerful spell lived on, for the Queen continued in his good deeds and stood in his place at the first gathering of the Temple of Peace and his courtesans continued to sing his praises as the Second Wizard spoke of his vigor and greatness.
As a sign of the good he had done for the afflicted, his image was placed upon a coin of his realm, for though he had long put aside his wizardly duties, the day of his birth had become a day of charity and his deeds an inspiration.
And it came to pass that the King’s gift of power to the Bear bore bitter fruit, for the new leader of the Land of Freedom had been told little of the goings of the world and the Red Dragon took the power he had been given by the Bear and drove the Blue Dragon from his land. Soon the Dragon and the Bear came together to build a powerful Red Empire and a war of ideas came to pass between the Red Empire and the Kingdoms of Freedom. Once and again, the soldiers of Freedom were called to fight the Red Empire on distant lands but now they could not prevail as when the King was their leader.
When the Queen died she was laid to rest beside the King, as though they had always been together. And the spell of the Great King still lives on, as the memory of their togetherness is strong, even as all the royal princes and princess are gone, for the sons and daughters of his sons and daughter wish it so.
After the second Wizard died, there came a time that that people began to doubt the tale he had spun. Now it fell upon the third Wizard to weave a yet more tangled tale that he oft retold so convincingly that the recorders of history continue to echo it in their scrolls.
And when the Maiden died, she also left a scroll for the world to discover that attested to his greatness but told little of what she had known of the plagues that the Wizards could not conquer.
Alas, talk of the greatness and devotion of the noble Goose is but a whisper while the memory of the togetherness of the King and Queen ring loudly in the hearts and minds of those that make the record of history, as though they had always lived ... happily ever after.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
In 1933, a Machinist's Mate on the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis Gerhard Stoeckel, Sr. of Allentown, Pennsylvania., snapped a photo of FDR during his visit to the ship and stowed it away in a scrapbook. It was found by his son and used by his daughter as a "show and tell" at her school. When Stoeckel Jr. subsequently heard that only two photos of FDR in a wheelchair were known he contacted the FDR Library and one of the archivists, Mark Renovitch, confirmed the authenticity.
March 9, 1997, Sunday, THIRD EDITION
A RARE PHOTO;
* WHILE HE WAS A SAILOR ON BOARD THE USS INDIANAPOLIS, AN ALLENTOWN MAN;
CAPTURED THIRD KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF FDR IN A WHEELCHAIR.
BYLINE: JIM KELLY; The Morning Call
SECTION: NATIONAL, Pg. A1
LENGTH: 1709 words
In an era when there was no official White House photographer, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was probably the most photographed man in the nation.
More than 25,000 images of him are on file at the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y, most of them taken by news photographers who willingly adhered to a strict ruling by theRoosevelt family that the president was not to be photographed in his wheelchair.
The photograph accompanying this story is the third.
It was taken more than 60 years ago, in 1936, by Gerhard Stoeckel Sr. of Allentown, while he was a chief machinist's mate on board the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis on which Rooseveltsailed to Latin America for what was called "The Good Neighbor Cruise."
The historic photograph has laid all these years in a scrapbook retained by Stoeckel's son, Gerhard Stoeckel Jr., 69, of 1536 Liberty St.
Mark Renovitch, archivist at the Hyde Park library, confirmed the find. "We have for years told anybody who called us that there were only two. Now we have to correct what we've been saying all these years."
Renovitch said he would love to see Stoeckel's photo join the library's collection.
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Accompanying him were his bodyguard August "Gus" Gennerich; FDR's physician, Dr. Marvin McIntyre; his military aide Edwin "Pa" Watson and the president's son, James.
The fact that it is Gennerich shows that the picture was taken on the way to Latin America because Gennerich died Dec. 1 of a heart attack while in Buenos Aires.
It is probably the last picture taken of the man who had been the president's faithful aide since 1928.
"Gus was Franklin Roosevelt's legs," said McHugh. He was a New York cop who met FDR in Albany while he was the governor. Gus was a jovial man who loved to tell stories, McHugh said. "Gus was his best buddy and his protector.
"He had a special place at the White House where he would sit at the door with a big dog that he owned.
"He took precedence over everybody else, including the Secret Service, and Roosevelt thought so highly of him, he gave Gus a White House burial. His body lie in state in the East Room of the White House, an honor usually reserved for only the president."
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The Stoeckel picture surfaced about 15 years ago when Stoeckel Jr.'s son, Gerhard Stoeckel III, made an enlargement of the scrapbook picture so his daughter, Holly, could take it to a grade school show-and-tell.
Neither little Holly, now 26 and a teacher in Myerstown, nor her family or classmates at McKinley School had any idea how rare a piece of history was on display in the classroom that day.
It was just another day at school and the picture was returned to the family files -- until last week.
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Gerhard Stoeckel Sr. was born in Kemetz, Germany in 1900, but his family had emigrated to Allentown where his father worked as a shoemaker. Gerhard left school, worked at the Bonney Forge Tool and Die shop for a spell and then joined the Navy in 1919, on the condition set by his parents that he continue to send money home to help the family.
Stoeckel thrived on Navy life, finishing first in his class at machinist's school and eventually rising to the enlisted rank of chief petty officer.
He had been on board the cruiser Indianapolis since 1932 and was ranking CPO in the engine room when the president came aboard.
For Franklin Roosevelt, being at sea was the greatest tonic, notes McHugh. His physician was constantly after him to take a vacation, so FDR combined his love of the Navy, his need for a vacation and the political need to establish good relations with Latin America.
The president had made other cruises on the USS Indianapolis, said Stoeckel Jr. His father told him that the cruiser had an elevator installed expressly for FDR so he could move from deck to deck.
Stoeckel Jr. relates a tale about the time his dad "put the lights out for the president." The president wanted more light in his room, so an officer was dispatched to the engine room where Chief Stoeckel was at his station.
"The president wants more light," he was told. "Can you give any more electric power?"
"I have one more generator," Chief Stoeckel said. "Give me 20 minutes."
The officer said, "Now!"
Had he been given the time to build up more steam, everything would have been fine. But like a good sailor, when you get an order you do it, his son said.
"He turned on the last generator and everything went black."
But it didn't seem to hurt his career. He stayed on board the Indianapolis until 1939 and was discharged from the service Dec. 10, 1940.
It was a short departure, however, because he went right back to serve his country and his Commander in Chief again when World War II began.
"After training 20 years for war," he told his son, "it would be like turning your back on your country. Eventually father and son both would serve in the Navy during the war.
As a footnote to the story, Chief Stoeckel was aboard another ship when it was sunk off Casa Blanca during the war, and he lived to tell about it.
His old ship, the USS Indianapolis, was sunk at 12:15 a.m. July 30, 1945, by two torpedoes from the Japanese sub I-58. The cruiser capsized and sank within two minutes, with no S.O.S. sent out. Only 318 of her crew of 1,199 survived. Many were lost to sharks.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Margaret Suckley was a distant cousin of FDR's, but during his presidency she became his closest companion," McHugh said.
"She was a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to the president. She was the only person with whom he would talk confidentially," McHugh added.
McHugh met and interviewed Suckley often, he said, but she would always deflect personal questions about her relationship with the president. She took her story with her when she died at the age of 100.
She willed her estate Wilderstein to a preservation group that discovered a steamer trunk under her bed filled with diaries, letters and memorabilia of the president, including the two previous wheelchair photos.
One is a frontal photo of the president, his dog Fala in his lap, and a 5-year-old girl named Ruthie Bie, by his side.
The photos wound up with Geoffrey C. Ward, the former editor of American Heritage Magazine, who turned the material into a book, "Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley."
Ward, questioned about the possibility of other photos of the type, said, "Probably in the world there may be others."
There may have been a Life magazine picture taken at great distance of FDR being wheeled to his library at Hyde Park, Ward said, but he didn't look it up.
Another cherished possession of the Stoeckel family is an official "Shellback" certificate signed by the president.
Among the letters in "Closest Companion" is a letter from FDR to Daisy that confirms The King Neptune Ceremony as a highlight of the cruise for the men and the president.
In his letter to Daisy, FDR described the traditional ceremony:
"Monday 23 -- All is preparation for the Crossing of the Equator -- I am the Senior Pollywog ... at 7:30 tonight there was a loud beating of drums and blowing of bugles ... announcing that at noon tomorrow Father Neptune & his court will come on board to initiate all Pollywogs into the mysteries of the deep & make them into Shellbacks!
"As a matter of fact, I got off very lightly -- The King, Queen, Royal Baby & a large Court retinue appeared in the most gorgeous costumes, were duly seated on a platform & then the fun began -- I had to make a speech in defense -- but the others were dunked in a tank, put in a coffin, "electrocuted," spanked, tickled, etc. -- over 200 of them & it lasted from noon till 4.
"Weds. 25 -- All on board have settled down to the usual routine after the 'show' of the past two days -- and I slept till ten this morning ... I spend spare moments signing the King Neptune certificates -- big colored affairs -for the whole ship's company -- about 700 of them!"
It appears that FDR was much more thrilled with being a Shellback than being a goodwill ambassador.
With the death of his buddy, Gus, the joyous cruise was turned into a somber journey home, where he would return to all the problems that awaited.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
The use of cocaine by FDR for "sinus treatments" is not surprising. We know, from readily available information that from mid-1939, FDR saw McIntire on a daily basis for "sinus treatments". I believe the only incorrect assumption is that cocaine was being used to treat FDR for chronic sinusitis. Cocaine is a powerful anesthetic and vasoconstrictor and was being used to combat the pain brought on by the constant irritation from therapy. With the goal of affecting a slow cosmetic removal of the cancerous lesion, FDR had innumerable painful procedures over his left eye and in his sinuses, performed by McIntire Between early 1940 and late 1941. Daily use of cocaine obviously leads to addiction, ceasing use, brings about a"rebound" phenomenon, a nasal swelling and intense congestion begging for more cocaine. Mcintire had no problem obtaining cocaine for medical use.
Yes, FDR was probably dependent on cocaine from 1939 on. The really interesting part is how it affected the other aspects of his health, i.e. his blood pressure, and even more so his personality and decision making. I would refer the reader to "An Anatomy of an Addiction" by Howard Markel, 2011, Pantheon Books, which provides an excellent and detailed discussion of the effect of cocaine on Sigmund Freud and William Stewart Halsted. It is a good basis for the non-medical historian to begin to understand how FDR really functioned.
Unfortunately, the historical community continues assess Franklin Roosevelt as Howard Bruenn portrayed him and not how he really was. McIntire's continuous assertion that he rarely touched his patient is so much crap, he was a top notch physician and FDR always received the best medical care. McIntire knew how dangerous this was for FDR, he had not other options. Sometimes the best medical care creates addiction.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
My reading of the recent (highly recommended) book By Matthew Algeo "The President is a Sick Man" brought about this post. You will soon discover why.
The White House, assisted by the reports of a rival newspaperman, Alexander McClure of the Philadelphia Times, went on a campaign to deny Edwards' story.
On September 1, 1893, The New York Daily Tribune published the following story which continued and cemented the cover-up
Edwards was villified. Twenty four years later he was vindicated. In September 1917, one of the operating surgeons, W.W. (Willlam Williams) Keen
wrote an article in the Saturday Evening Post that confirmed the story. Kean followed the story with a book, the first edition of which being a proud addition to my library. Kean lived to the ripe old age of 95. Kean was also connected to Roosevelt. He was called to Campobello at he outset of FDR's polio in 1921 and misdiagnosed him as having a spinal cord infarction (stroke). Most famously, he submitted an outrageous bill for his services to the family.