As a polio survivor, I know all too well, the pain, paralysis, and issues that this dreaded disease has brought into my life. Visiting Warm Springs, Georgia, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House, was something I have always wanted to do, and had been on my "bucket list," especially after post-polio syndrome affected me in the year 2000. So, in 2012, after I had recovered from extensive cervical spine surgery, as well as rotator cuff repairs on both shoulders, my husband loaded up the RV and he surprised me with a trip to Warm Springs!
Franklin D. Roosevelt was diagnosed with poliomyelitis in New Brunswick, Canada in 1922 and was severely paralyzed. Franklin D. Roosevelt built the Little White House while governor of New York in 1932 just before being inaugurated as president in 1933. The President had hoped that swimming in the 88 degree warm water would bring him a cure for his polio. Swimming did not bring him a cure, but it did bring him some relief of pain and way to exercise and feel stronger.
Visiting the museum and enjoying all of the historical information showed me just how fascinating and intelligent Franklin D. Roosevelt really was. The museum included his car equipped with hand controls, listening to "Fireside Chat's on the radio, an exhibit of all the canes that had been sent to FDR as gifts, information on how he developed rural electrification and so much more. There was an exhibit about The March of Dimes, which was known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and was created by President Roosevelt because of his personal struggle with polio. The program created a patient fund, as well as funded research for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, M.D. and Albert Sabin, M.D.
There is also the Legacy Exhibit with the Unfinished Portrait. While posing for a portrait, being painted by Elizabeth Shoumatoff, FDR suffered a stroke and died on April 12, 1945. The unfinished portrait is on display exactly as the artist left it.
The Historic Pools Museum is a separate exhibit and located a little further down the road, but is included in the tour price. This exhibit was so moving, because here you were able to view the iron lung that many children were placed in to help them breathe when the paralysis affected their respiratory system, and some people had to live in them for their entire lives. There were also the beds that polio patient's were placed in to lay out in the sun at the rehab facility. The pools were a sight to behold, where once thousands of patient's came to swim to help them feel stronger and ease their pain.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was not only a president, but a man, who, while living with polio and probably symptoms of post-polio syndrome had been President not just for one term, but for twelve years. This is a man who had campaigned for the Presidency and been victorious in four national elections. During his administration he faced the greatest domestic crises in American History, the bloodiest conflict in world history, World War II and the Great Depression. President Franklin Roosevelt faced these problems, as well as other issues that arose during his terms of presidency with energetic zeal, true creativity, and a relentless and persistent pursuit of victory.
As we toured the museum, the house and the grounds, at some point, I was saddened by seeing the wheelchair, braces, the iron lung, and the pictures of so many who had polio and had been there for rehabilitation, but then a new thought occurred to me and that was that I can only hope to be so inspired by this President's pursuit of life and living that I can continue to face all of life's challenges and living in a wheelchair is just a small and minor inconvenience.
If you have the opportunity to be in the Warm Springs, Georgia area, stop in and visit this wonderful, informative and historic site. For more information please visit Little White House .