Annotated Text and Audio link to March 1st 1945 Yalta Speech

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A New and Important Find

This memo is part of a group of documents recently received from the rarely viewed Walter Trohan papers at the Herbert Hoover Library in Iowa.

The author "Dwyer" is Orville "Doc" Dwyer a Chicago Tribune reporter who had been with the newspaper since the early 1920's and earned his nickname by exposing quack medicine.

The recipents were Trohan and two other high level executives at the paper W.B. "Don" Maxwell and Stanley "Little Giant" Armstrong.

Dr. Louis E. Schmidt, referred to in the document was a urologist. Mr. Maloney was also a high level Tribune exec and Col. McCormick was the publisher.

This document is important for a number of reasons:

1) It provides one of the best descriptions of Roosevelt's seizures

2) It re-confirms Francis Perkins' observation that the FDR's seizures were occurring for years.

3) It shows, for the first time, that daughter Anna had observed them and understood, to some degree, their importance.

4) It shows that the seizures were misinterpreted as "small strokes" by those outside the inner circle of doctors and staff (at the least McIntire, Bruenn, Duncan, Craig, Watson, Lahey, Paullin and probably Hopkins) and explains the basis of Dr. Wold's allegation of multiple strokes in the 1948 Look Magazine article as leaked to him by Trohan.

5) It shows that Anna was likely unaware of FDR's prostate problems. Schmidt, a urologist, would almost surely have addressed this had he been told about it.
6) And, perhaps most importantly, It underscores the implications of FDR's medical debility upon his ability to function as commander-in-chief.

Not quite as monumental, but also adding to our ever increasing understanding of this remarkable deception is this memo by Trohan himself:

It reveals what the those around FDR, including Marvin McIntyre, Jim Farley and Steve Early, knew about the Lucy Mercer affair. While the facts of 1919 appear to be somewhat incorrect, the overall implications are the same. The report from Mike Reilly about the facts of April 12, 1945 are quite accurate and the document clearly shows that the Tribune sat on the Lucy Rutherfurd story for the 17 years until Jonathan Daniels made it public.

There is perhaps even more yet to be found in Iowa!
(ps. This post was written in October. I have since visited the Hoover libray and spent a most rewarding day researching the papers of Walter Trohan and Westbrook Pegler. In fact, my conversations with the great Roosevelt biographer Geoffrey Ward lead me to believe that Geoff now believes that the version of the story about Lucy in the Dwyer letter is actually correct. Of similar importance, this document also reveals that the Trib and Colonel McCormick sat on the Lucy story for 17 years until it was first publicly acknowleged in an article by Jonathan Daniels).

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Margaret Suckley Diary

Basically, Margaret "Daisy" Suckley's diary explodes many of the long-held myths perpetrated by Howard Bruenn. Here is a downloadable transcript of all the references Daisy made to FDR's health, many of which are discussed in greater detail in our book.

By perusing the entries chronologically, one can appreciate a story within itself, documenting the true story of the deterioration of FDR's health as seen through the eyes of one who loved him intensely and without qualification.

FDR shared many of his inner thoughts with Daisy, yet, by no means, all of them. Even with this "Closest Companion", he was far less than candid about his deadly secret, often leading the medically unsophisticated spinster to her own research.

It is through Daisy that we learn about Harry Setaro (aka Harry Lenny) who was permitted to massage the president by virtue of his contacts with her. One untold piece of history only recently came to light. A 1945 check made out to Daisy by FDR to reimburse her for paying Setaro.

FDR probably considered Setaro nothing more than a harmless amusement. He was far too medically sophisticated, especially with respect to polio, to believe that this retired boxer had any possiblility of improving his condition, though Daisy appears to be convinced of his value. Of course though, even Daisy had no real idea of the true nature of most of FDR's medical problems.
Geoffrey Ward's book "Closest Companion" is essential reading to any serious FDR enthusiast.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tale of FDR's Handwriting

FDR always was acutely aware of his importance in history. As an autograph collector himself, he knew that when he attached his signature to a letter or document, it would likely be preserved. He took great pride in creating a written record of his achievements and there are many thousands of examples of his signature and handwriting in existence.
When his handwriting began to deteriorate, likely due to a hereditary tremor further enhanced by multiple metabolic medical problems, he made an often valiant and concerted effort to minimize the changes. At the end, he simply could not do it.
Here's two interesting examples. The first is his famous "FDR" monogram that he used on more casual correspondence. The first in a July 1941 letter Harold Ickes, referring to "the flu" at the time he was actually in the midst of his anemia that required at least nine transfusions. The second is a November 1944 communication to Adolf Berle.

Another great way of comparing FDR's signatures is on his checks. Here's a number of examples documenting the dramtic deterioration in the last year of his life, including the last check he ever signed. The body of the checks are in the hand of Grace Tully.

"He never told the truth, when a good lie would do"

The title of this post is a quote from Douglas MacArthur upon hearing of FDR's death. Truman put it more succinctly. "He lies" was his response to a 1944 inquiry about what FDR was really like.

Here are some first hand examples, by FDR himself and his partner in deceit, Louis Howe.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Early Scar

Even having seen literally thousands of photographs of FDR over the last three years and invariably directing my attention to his left eye, it took a while to sort out exactly what I was seeing.
It is a matter of absolute certainty that the pigmented lesion above the eye was surgically removed between early 1940 and late 1941. The point, of course, was to do it slowly without (pardon the pun) raising any eyebrows that something was awry. It was a phenomenally successful effort, and likely reinforced Roosevelt's belief that, when it came to hiding his health problems, he could get away with almost anything (and he did!).

Before Ross Mcintire began carving at the lesion, there had been some trauma to the area, with a scar within and lateral to the eyebrow seen in photos as early as 1915. This scar shows up in some some photos in the 1920's, is especially well seen in photos of FDR at his first inauguration, and shows up throughout the 1930's.

This was initially a source of confusion but it answers are a bit clearer.

Geoffrey Ward's first book on FDR "Before the Trumpet" (p. 145) describes an incident where the nine-year old Franklin sustained a deep cut on his forehead from a falling curtain rod while on a ship with his father. The point was that stoic and proud FDR insisted that his father not be told, rather asking for a cap to cover the wound. This incident may be the source of that scar. It is also clear from a few photos that another well known skin lesion, the benign waxy mole on his right cheek was, at one time, a considerable cosmetic eyesore. This may also have functioned in sensitizing him to the appearance of his face. It is also apparant that, sometime in the late teens or early 1920's some minor cosmetic reduction was performed. The photographs below are ample testimony.

It is clear that this scar is not the one seen on the jacket of the book,

The old scar continues to be evident in some photos after 1942. It could also be speculated that McIntire the old scar as a portal to treat FDR's mew and malignant problem.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How Deep was the Cover-up?

On the face it, a simple x-ray report on an unknown patient, this document tells many stories.

Found in the archives of the Franklin D. Roosevelt library, it is one of the relatively few surviving medical records of the President. Exactly why Ross McIntire decided to separate this one from what must have been countless others is a matter of speculation, but we can make a highly educated guess.

It is dated January 10, 1940. Just about the time a reknowned cancer doctor, Reuben Peterson, sent a friendly letter to FDR mentioning his concerns about the pigmented lesion over his left eye- a wake-up call that it something must be done so that it didn't raise concerns among other, less well-intentioned, observers. Roosevelt was about to attempt what no man had ever done, run for a third term as president, and even the slightest whiff of suspicion that he had a malignant disease would spell an abrupt end to that lofty ambition.

The handwritten annotations and typed interpretion were by Dr. Charles Francis Behrens, the navy's top radiologist. At the time, radiologists performed the dual function of interpreting films and treating patients, mostly with cancer, with radiation therapy. He was at the top of his field in both, authoring many scientific papers and editing the first textbook on the effects of radiation on the body, Atomic Medicine, in 1948. He would also be an integral part of the diagnostic team put together to treat Roosevelt in 1944, as noted by Howard Bruenn in his 1970 paper. Every existing x-ray report of FDR carries Behren's signature. Whatever was really wrong with Roosevelt, Behrens knew. His interpretations were the portal that all others relied on.

The films were taken at the White House and transported to the Naval Hospital in the nearby foggy bottom section of Washington (near the site of the present-day Vietman memorial) by Mcintire's right hand man, George Adam Fox, to be read by Behrens. The text of the interpretation is revealing.

"View of the siuses (sic) in the Caldwell position shows the antra and the ethmoids to be fairly clear. The frontals do not show well but there is possibly some haziness on one side. The turbinates are swollen on the same side. The lateral view of the frontal sinuses is negative."

There is no secretarial signature at the bottom. That, the fact that no patients name appears, the mis-spellings and hand-written annotations indicate that Behrens generated the entire dociument himself. Even with an anonymous patient, it was far too sensitive to be seen by anyone other than Ross McIntire.

The most telling aspect of the report are the words "on one side" and "on the same side". This is most definitely intentional, since leaving out such an essential point of information as the side of the pathology is something that any trained radiologist would never purposefully do. Almost surely, the problematic side was the left one but any written mention of the side of FDR's problem was strictly verboten.

In summary, this fascinating document is more evidence that their was an active cover-up of Roosevelts melanoma as early as January 1940.

Friday, October 2, 2009

FDR and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda

On August 31, 1942, FDR made one of his "public" appearances (aside from the 29 secret ones) at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda Maryland. Here is a video of his speech at the dedication ceremonies. Ross McIntire is mentioned at the outset.

FDR took a special interest in the center, choosing the site and providing a rough design of the building. He laid the cornerstone in 1938.

This video comes from the website of British Pathe , the best and most accessible repository of FDR videos in existence. I showed it as part of my lecture on FDR's health at NNMC as the inaugural lecture in the Surgeon General's Lecture Series on FDR's health on November 7, 2007. An ongoing debt of thanks is due to surgeon general VADM Adam Robinson and naval medical historians Jan Herman and Andre Sobocinski.

FDR's Cooks: Henrietta Nesbitt and Daisy Bonner

If you make a pilgrimage to Hyde Park to FDR's home, you will see that the cafeteria at the welcoming center there is named after his White House cook, Henrietta Nesbitt.
There is a bit of underlying humor and irony here. By all reports, FDR hated Mrs. Nesbitt's cooking and much preferred that of his cook at Warm Springs, Daisy Bonner.

Daisy was preparing FDR's last meal, his favorite souffle, when he was fatally stricken with a brain hemorrhage on April 12, 1945. The note that Daisy wrote on the wall of the Little White House that fateful day can still be seen there.

FDR's favorite meal was Brunwick Stew, as prepared by Daisy. It was be served to him at as a surprise at the planned barbeque/minstrel show he never attended the afternoon of his death.

Here's the recipe:

3 to 3-1/2 pounds stewing chicken (cut into 8-10 pieces)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons bacon fat

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 green onions, diced

3 cups small potatoes, diced

3 large tomatoes, peeled and diced

1-1/2 cups Lima or butter beans, fresh or frozen

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup okra, diced

1/2 cup sherry

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons butter

We found this picture of Daisy, who died in 1958, in a rare African-American oriented magazine, Sepia (now at the FDRL).

FDR and Harvey Cushing

The relationship between FDR and the iconic father of American neurosurgery, Harvey Cushing, came about through the marriage of their children, James and Betsey. Betsey was FDR's favorite daughter-in-law, playing host to Britain's royal family during their visit to Hyde Park in 1939. The marriage lasted between 1930 and 1940, ending in divorce, and produced two children. Betsey Cushing then married John Hay "Jock" Whitney, and became one of America's greatest philanthropists and patron of the arts, leaving an estate reportedly over $700,000,000.

Cushing at left, Betsey at far right

The correspondence between these two giants was documented in this 2001 paper:

Ironically, FDR and Cushing had another connnection. At the outset of FDR's fatal brain hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, Roosevelt's blood pressure soared to 260/150, a phenomenon seen as a consequence of a rapid elevation in intracranial pressure (basically, a reflex effort by the body to maintain blood circulation to the brain). This was first described by Cushing in 1902 and is known as the the Cushing response or Cushing's phenomena.

H. W. Cushing: Some experimental and clinical observations concerning states of increased intracranial tension. American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Thorofare, N.J., 1902, 124: 375-400

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When did they know?

I found the caption on this 1937 photo intriguing. As soon as I saw that FDR was avoiding the press because of a "sty" in the eye, it raised suspicion that perhaps something else was being treated. Further research yielded the fact that, of course, it was the left eye that had the "sty".
A coincidence?

After four years of researching this incredibly deceptive man, one thing becomes entirely evident- no public statement about his health can be taken at face value.

All of the stories of "sinusitis" "flu" "intestinal flu" "grippe" "swamp fever" must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Knowing what we do tells us that we really don't know very much at all.

Could they have been treating FDR's melanoma as early as 1937? Of course, but there is not a shred of direct evidence. Then again, there is not a shred of evidence that it was ever treated and we know with absolute certainty that it was.

Any review of the pages and pages of visits to the White House doctor's office, essentially daily from late 1938, the mysterious trips and voyages, and the plethora of known deceptions we have already uncovered, tells us that we have only begun to unravel the many layers of smokescreen.

The most exciting prospect of this book getting wide attention is that we have one last opportunity to "shake the tree" (without Dr. Bruenn to squelch it, as he did quite successfully in 1979). We are most excited to see what fruit may fall out.

See for yourself. Here is the 1979 TIME magazine article published following the release of Harry Goldsmith's paper. Note, in particular, Dr. Bruenn's response. It is easy to see now that the keeper of FDR's deadly secret was lying through his teeth, but its taken fully thirty more years before we can finally expose these comments for what they were.,9171,920723,00.html