In this series on 1831Galion as we share little-known and long forgotten episodes of local history. We’re calling it: “It Happened In Galion.”
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the of the country’s 32nd President, was known for much more than being the spouse of America’s wartime Commander in Chief.
The First Lady helped to set the stage for future active presidential spouses in her traveling, speaking, and public life after her husband’s passing. Those pursuits included writing newspaper columns, including her best-known “My Day, a nationally syndicated column which she wrote from the end of 1965 until September 1962 (for much of that time, it was published six days a week).
Several of the posts were breezy accounts of where she was on a given date and included both family news and matters of national importance. She was, after all, a very close witness to a very important time in American history when the country emerged from the Great Depression only to become entangled in a world war.
On more than one occasion, she was accompanying her husband at the time. This was particularly true during campaign season.
This was the case on October 17, 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt was conducting a “whistlestop campaign,” stopping in both large and small communities. Those locations included Galion.
In fact, it was that date when Eleanor Roosevelt started her column with the location “GALION, Ohio.” This is what she wrote that day:
“Detroit gave a very warm welcome and after his speech was over we returned to the station to find that the train had not yet been backed into its new position, so we sat and waited for a time, while various people were brought up and introduced. Finally the train arrived and after the President went on board, three of us decided to go up to a hotel for a bath.
I contended that I wished to take a taxi but was over ruled. Instead we were overwhelmed with kindness and protection and put into an open car with two gentlemen to look after us. They took it for granted that we would go to the Book- Cadallic where there was a grand celebration going on. Suddenly we found ourselves in the midst of a very friendly and wildly enthusiastic crowd all of them wishing to shake me warmly by the hand. I shook hands with as many as I could while I explained to my two kind gentlemen that what I wanted was a quiet hotel where I would not be surrounded even by friends! So we drove on to the Statler where all seemed quiet.
Before leaving the hotel we decided to have a bite to eat as food during the day had been somewhat hurried and sketchy. Our waiter arrived in an almost breathless condition, apologizing for the delay and any confusion, saying it was hard for him to work for they were all so excited having the President in town. We told him we quite understood and he left us, to return in a few minutes even more breathlessly bringing ice water and butter which we did not in the least need and saying that he was sorry he did not know who I was. Very simply he added: “I’m for Mr. Roosevelt, he saved my home and my family.” Something in the quality of his emotion communicated itself to us and the tears were not in his eyes alone.
I could not help thinking what a terrific responsibility it is for a man to know that his policies and his plans affect the lives and the hopes of so many people. A satisfaction, yes, to see their faces light up as they recognize him in the streets, to hear some of them call out: “Thank you, Mr. President, thank you.” Decisions leading up to any kind of action require great courage however, for it is always easier to do nothing than to try a new line of action.
We woke today to rain and drove through Cincinnati in a downpour. Still, people crowded the streets and their faces lighted up in greeting. There was warmth in the air in spite of rain and there has been at every station stop today.”
Photo: Creative Commons License