One of the great things about Poughkeepsie is that you are always in striking distance of so many places to visit and things to do.
One of them is Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park – the only place she referred to as home. The grander Roosevelt home is right on Route 9 but the trip to the more modest house bought as her personal retreat is also worth the visit. On both occasions I have been there the guides – one a park ranger and the other a docent – have been so knowledgeable about Mrs Roosevelt – her life in public and private and about the famous and the not so famous who came to Vall-Kill to be with her.
Don’t miss the short film. It sets the historical context of the Roosevelt era and provides the personal story. The interior of the house is lovingly preserved and you can see the study where the indefatigable Mrs Roosevelt wrote and worked, and the modest dining and sitting room where she met with world leaders, royalty and people from the neighborhood.
And indefatigable she was. Her “My Day” column was nationally syndicated and reached an audience of millions. For twenty seven years between 1935 and 1962 she wrote six days a week. When Franklin Roosevelt died she missed four days – the only interruption in all those 27 years. She was a blogger before her time and in her column she was able to reach millions of readers with her commentary on the important issues of the time. Column weave seamlessly from domestic issues to her demanding daily schedule and commentary of the major events of her time.
Mrs Roosevelt was a world figure and hers was a distinctive voice at once intimate and confiding yet authoritative and confident. It’s interesting to search the database from George Washington University to see the range of her interests and how many columns flow from the personal detail to matters of great public concern. Mrs Roosevelt was interested in all of it. It’s fun, too, to search for the items of local interest – items about Hyde Park, Poughkeepsie and the surrounding area.
The rain stayed with us most of yesterday. It was my last day in Hyde Park for over a month so a busy one. In the morning I went down to our excellent department store, Luckey-Platt, in Poughkeepsie, and arranged for some furniture to be re-upholstered while I am away. I bought a few things for the stone cottage which my guests should find convenient. – June 5th 1950
Some remarkable things are being done in the International Business Machines research center south of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but one scientist in particular is delighted because he has taught a machine to play checkers. And the machine is winning, improving its score with each game. July 24th 1959
As this is the 50th anniversary of the launch I searched Sputnik to see how Mrs Roosevelt had responded and made sense of this trauma to the American psyche and the impact on education. I found it a fascinating glimpse back in time.
But if you are interested you will have to do the search yourself!