Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crossing the Elbe...

On the morning of Tuesday April the 10th, 1945, one of trains arriving in Brattleboro carried a special passenger; Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the President. She met friends at the station and proceeded to the Brooks House for a late breakfast in the Colonial Room.

Brattleboro's Union Station (which had 22 trains pass trough each day in 1939)  now houses an art museum, with a much smaller Amtrak station in the back. This was taken from Plaza Park created across from the station to provide an appropriate entrance to the town. . The fountain used to be topped by a small statue, "The Spirit of Life" by Daniel Chester French. It was stolen in 1974, and eventually was recovered from an antique shop in New York City. It now resides in the town's  library. Several attempts to finance a duplicate for the fountain have so far failed to produce a result.   
The Brooks House dominates downtown Brattleboro. This was taken before the restoration from the devastating fire of April 2011 was complete. It now houses a lively mix of restaurants, shops, colleges and very pricey apartments - including one in the corner tower where Rudyard Kipling used to play poker.

After breakfast, Mrs. Roosevelt went to nearby Chester to accept a gift from the Senior class. They had raised $500.00 for a trip to New York or Washington DC, but since wartime travel restrictions were in place, they decided to donate the funds to 'further the cause of peace'.  Mrs. Roosevelt then went to Keene, NH to speak on the subject of post war education. On Wednesday the 11th, she returned to Washington, D.C.

 The 7th War Loan drive was starting. The war in Europe was going well, if any war can be described in such terms. Then it would be Japan's turn. Here in town, the annual Spring clean up was beginning.




The local paper for Thursday April 12th had already been released when there was news from the President's home (at the spa he financed which served those suffering from Infantile Paralysis) in Warm Springs, GA. He had been tending to paperwork while his portrait was being sketched when he suddenly declared that he a terrible headache, and collapsed. The President died later that afternoon. He was 63. Taking office in 1933, he had shepherded the country through the worst of the Depression, rebuilt the economy, prepared for and then fought the Second World War. In less than a month, Adolph Hitler would be dead and the Nazi regime destroyed. But Moses did not live to see the Promised Land.


My radio show last night listened in to late March and early April 1945 before featuring an extraordinary FDR Memorial broadcast of April the 14th, 1945, performed live at the 400 restaurant in NYC by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.
As I post, it is April the 12th, 2015.
It was 70 years ago today.