May 18, 2021 – Butterflies and History
One end of the Pine Mountain Trail and Hwy 190 (Pine Mountain Hwy) is right across the street from the Country Kitchen. There is a nice parking lot across the street for people who plan to walk the trail. We did not want to walk this trail as it is 23 miles. We were just looking for some shorter loop trails.
We knew Hwy 190 goes directly to the FDR State Park along the top of Pine Mountain ridge. There were many Pine Mountain hiking crosswalk signs along the route, but we never saw anyone crossing the highway. The temperatures were so cool that we rode with the windows open.
I kept looking for the park entrance like I am used to seeing at other state parks – a kiosk with someone taking money for a park pass or a sign directing people to a Visitor’s Center. The only sign we saw was one directing campers to the Registration Office. In retrospect, we should have gone to the Registration Office to at least ask questions.
Instead, we decided to take a left into the camping area hoping to see a Visitor Center. There were several large RV’s at the campsites around the lake. There was a sign directing people to the General Store. We parked there so we could ask some questions. Unfortunately, it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
I pulled up a park map on my phone and found a couple of marked trails. We looked around and saw the signs directing people to the trails. They weren’t loop trails so we decided to take the 0.9 Delano trail since we would be taking it up and back. We put our state park pass (checked out from our local library before our trip) on the dash in case a park ranger came by checking cars.
It was a disappointing trail. Very worn down and not much to see. We turned back before we reached the end. We did meet some people at a trail intersection who had hiked a different trail and they said their trail was nice. It was also 3.5 miles, so we decided it was too late in the day to start on it. I did take their picture for them so they could send it to their hiking club. The four of them were older than us so it gives me hope that Chuck and I can keep doing these hikes in the future.
When we got back in the car, Chuck suggested that we drive on to Warm Springs and see The Little White House, the Georgia home of FDR. Fine with me. It was only 13 miles away. Chuck remembered seeing it as a little boy. I had never been there. The clouds had dissipated, and it was turning out to be a pretty day.
The place was easy to find. Very few cars in the parking lot. As we walked up to it from the parking lot, I thought the house looked weird. It should have. It was the museum. A park ranger was at the entrance to sell us our tickets. She asked us where we were from. I started my spiel about where our town was located in relation to larger cities nearby. But she stopped me after I said the name of our town. She knew where it was because she was from there. What are the odds?
She said she still had a favorite cousin there. When she said who it was, we realized it was the aunt of one of our neighborhood friends. Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation in action.
The museum was crammed full of artifacts from FDR’s life – stamp collection, canes, dishes, cars, etc. There were a lot of interactive exhibits. In addition, we watched a 20-minute movie narrated by Walter Cronkite about FDR’s life in Warm Springs and how it influenced his Presidential policies on rural electricity, fight against polio, and the Civilian Conservation Corp.
They had 2 park rangers circulating throughout the museum who were ready to answer any questions. Chuck and one of them had a long conversation. One of the artifacts that I thought was especially unusual was his personal buggy – The Tally Ho. It was made in Barnesville, Georgia. Barnesville was once the Buggy Capital of the World and I always enjoyed going to the town’s Buggy Days Celebration.
I could relate to the information about polio regarding its indiscriminate attacks on the young and old and the fear it struck in the nation. One, it reminded me of the current COVID pandemic, and two, it brought back memories of my grandfather who suffered the effects of polio. I wish he could have had a car with hand controls like FDR had.
Once we left the museum, we followed a path to a building that we thought was another museum but turned out to be the administrative offices. However, the path was interesting because it was lined on each side with state flags. Along with each flag there was a plaque that told when the state entered the union and its state motto. However, the most interesting part was that each state also had a stone on a stand. Some of the stones were shaped like the state it represented. Others had inscriptions written on them. Each was unique. I really liked the Arizona one which was made of petrified wood.
Following a different path, we found the guest house and the servant’s quarters. Behind that building was The Little White House. It was definitely a house but it was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. The rooms were small. We saw the room where he had his stroke while he was having his portrait painted. Everything is exactly as it was that fateful day.
We saw his bedroom and Eleanor’s bedroom. They even had the original paper towels in the kitchen and toilet paper in the bathroom. Both were so brown and crumbly that a good breeze will eventually disintegrate them. They also had a statue of Fala, the President’s Scottish terrier next to one of the doors. FDR was fond of the sea and sailing so the motif of the house was very nautical, including an outside deck that resembled the aft of a ship.
Outside, the house was surrounded by Marine and Secret Service sentry posts. I bet the men guarding FDR didn’t like those hot, humid, and bug-filled Georgia summers while having to stand in those little buildings watching the woods for any attack.
Just like in the museum, there are park rangers in and around the house to answer your questions. They were friendly and enthusiastic about their subject.
The last building that we visited was a small museum that housed FDR’s “unfinished portrait” and other paintings. One wall was dedicated to some Norman Rockwell paintings that were created during FDR’s time. I recognized many of them.
Of course, before we left, I made my way to the gift shop to search for a Christmas ornament. I had hoped for a replica Little White House but all they had was a Rosie the Riveter ornament. I bought it because it did have the Little White House information on the back of it, and if you pulled the string, her arm moved in the iconic flexing motion. I do wish places stocked ornaments all year long instead of just at Christmas. I can’t be the only one who buys them as vacation souvenirs, can I?
The museum park ranger told us that the museum that includes the warm spring pools had finally reopened after two years – one year for renovations, the other because of COVID. Of course, the pools were not filled but there was another area that you could feel the natural 88- degree water in a small basin. She said our ticket would get us entry into that museum too. It was only about a mile down the road. She also gave us directions back to Callaway that would not involve going back over Pine Mountain which we appreciated.
It was getting late in the afternoon, so we opted out of going to the other museum. We did enjoy riding through the town of Warm Springs and the ride back to Callaway was pleasant. We decided to stop at a pizza place near the Lodge recommended by our balcony neighbors – Fox’s Pizza Den. Glad we did. Bought a 10” pepperoni/mushroom pizza and 8 chicken wings and took them back to our room. We ate on the balcony. Very good meal.
Our balcony neighbors checked out this morning, but they left us a nice note and a Callaway Gardens shot glass as a surprise. They had mentioned that they like cruising so maybe we can all cruise together some time as we exchanged phone numbers.
So even though the hiking didn’t turn out as planned, we had a very good day. Looking forward to exploring in the Callaway Cruiser tomorrow.
When the Little White House was opened to the public in 1948, all the states currently part of the union (then, 48) were invited to contribute samples of native stones for a planned “Walk of the States,” in which visitors could walk down a long driveway and see each specimen.
Unfortunately, when some of the stones arrived, they were of varying degrees of texture and hardness, making it impractical to construct a walkway. Instead, the stones were placed on bench stands with educational information about each one. In 1961, the stones were moved to their present location on the walkway, and in 1964 state flags were added next to each stone.
There are 51- one for each state and DC. The most common stone is granite, followed closely by marble.
FDR was a state senator of New York from 1910 – 1913 and its governor from 1929 – 1933.
He won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. However, he only served 4 months into his fourth term before he died. The 22nd Amendment ratified in 1951 put a two-term limit on the Presidency going forward.
He used radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 “fireside chat” radio addresses during his presidency and became the first American president to be televised.
Major surviving programs and legislation implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. He also presided over the end of Prohibition.
President Teddy Roosevelt was FDR’s fifth cousin.
He married Eleanor Roosevelt. She was his fifth cousin once removed, and Teddy’s niece. FDR’s mother did not want them to marry and disrupted the two-year engagement several times. They had six children with one dying in infancy.
It has been alleged that FDR had several affairs including a long one with Eleanor’s social secretary and a short one with the Crown Princess of Norway. There is a debate about whether or not Eleanor knew of the affairs; however, it is alleged that during FDR’s funeral procession there was not a dry eye to be seen – except for Eleanor’s.
In 1938, he founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, leading to the development of polio vaccines. The Foundation is now known as the March of Dimes.
His beloved Scottish Terrier, Fala, was also extremely popular with the public. The dog could receive 5,000 fan letters in a day. He was also the model for the Monopoly playing piece. A statue of Fala receives a prominent position next to the statue of FDR, in the third room of the FDR Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The bronze statue of Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, (Fala’s full name), is the only presidential pet honored in such a way.
Lizzie McDuffie was FDR’s maid and the only staff member allowed to clean his room. She was a graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, and she was married to FDR’s valet Irvin McDuffie. They were the only WH servant staff to travel to Warm Springs with him. She also served as a liaison between Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights activists and campaigned for FDR’s re-election in 1936 and 1940. She also auditioned for the part of Mammy in Gone with the Wind, a part that ultimately went to Hattie McDaniel. McDaniel won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for that role making her the first African American to win an Oscar.
Roosevelt’s declining physical health had been kept secret from the general public so his death by stroke was met with shock and grief. After Germany surrendered the following month ending WWII, newly sworn-in President Truman dedicated Victory in Europe Day and its celebrations to Roosevelt’s memory.
The artist who was painting his portrait at the time of his stroke, Elizabeth Shoumatoff, is said to have rolled up the painting, vacated the premises, and never touched the painting again. It was donated to the Little White House in 1952 and is officially named “The Unfinished Portrait.”
As was his wish, Roosevelt was buried in the Rose Garden of his Springwood estate in Hyde Park, New York. He was joined by Fala in 1952 and Eleanor in 1962.
*trivia provided by Little White House documents