Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October Program Review - "Tea With Mrs. Roosevelt"

About 40 attendees enjoyed the dramatic presentation by Annette Hubbell, as Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elaine Litton as reporter Lorena Hickok, in the program "Tea With Mrs. Roosevelt" on 28 October 2015 at Bonita-Sunnyside Library.

While sipping tea, Lorena Hickok interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt while seated at a small round table.  Lorena was Eleanor's best friend for years, the first woman with Associated Press.  Eleanor Roosevelt was born a Roosevelt, but her parents and siblings died while she was young, and she was Franklin D. Roosevelt's distant cousin.   The interview took Eleanor through her youth attending boarding school and studying abroad, learning three languages German, French and Italian, and into adulthood, describing her marriage, her children, Franklin's siblings, and Franklin's career.

Franklin proposed to her in 1902, and married her in 1905.  Her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt gave Eleanor away.  They had a three month honeymoon, and when they returned to the States they lived with Franklin's mother, Sarah Roosevelt.  During their lives, they lived at Hyde Park in New York, the summer home in Campobello, Maine, a place in New York City, the Governor's mansion in Albany, in Washington D.C. when Franklin was Secretary of the Navy, and in the White House.  They bought property in Warm Springs, Georgia near a polio treatment center.

Eleanor took an active role in politics, volunteered for many social enterprises, including political reform, workers rights and childrens issues.  She wanted to help Franklin and become his partner in the government.  Franklin contracted polio in 1921, and learned to appreciate life more as he adapted and recovered.  They moved to New York City away from his mother's influence.  Lewis Howe became an advisor to Franklin.

When they entered the White House in 1933, Eleanor became active in the social circles, and eventually integrated the White House, and did fundraising for Negro schools.  After Franklin died in early 1945 before Germany surrendered, Eleanor became a delegate to the United Nations, and was the chair of the committee that wrote the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  She considered that to be her greatest accomplishment.  She also resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution when they would not accept singer Marian Anderson.

For more information about the Roosevelts, Annette and Lorena recommended the book No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and the Ken Burns PBS Series "The Roosevelts."

The meeting featured a classic afternoon tea with breads and cookies and fruit, along with tea, of course.   Refreshments were provided by Ana Castro, Jane Strawn, Caole Sobke and Jo Ann Bonner.  Several attendees wore hats and early 20th century dresses.

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