Today, we hear about Franklin D. Roosevelt. Welcome to Florida Time, a weekly column about Florida history.
Readers: In 1920, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the running mate of failed presidential candidate James M. Cox. The ticket lost in a landslide to Warren G. Harding. A year later Roosevelt would be struck by polio. In the dozen years that followed he was elected governor of New York, and became president of the United States.
It was while dealing with the polio that he'd decided the warm waters of Florida would help. In the 1954 book "Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Ordeal," Frank Freidel wrote that, in 1924, 1925 and 1926, Roosevelt rented a houseboat in the Keys. Freidel said that for Roosevelt, who kept a log, his description of a side trip to Palm Beach wasn't exactly something for the tourist board:
"I found the growth of mushroom millionaires' houses luxuriant," he wrote. "The women we saw went well with the place -- and we desired to meet them no more than we wished to remain in the harbor even an hour more than necessary." The book said Roosevelt "infinitely preferred poking along the swamps and inlets in quiet waters south of Miami."
Florida Time archives: Get caught up on the stories you’ve missed
Of course, Florida later played a dramatic role in Roosevelt’s life.
On Feb. 15, 1933, President-elect Roosevelt (in a time when presidents were not inaugurated until March) left a rally at Miami's Bayfront Park.
Italian immigrant and described anarchist Giuseppe Zangara, standing on a chair, pointed a pistol at Roosevelt. But Zangara lost his footing and bystanders struck his arm. Errant shots mortally wounded Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak and also hit four other people.
Zangara went to the electric chair just 33 days later. His last words: "Why don't you poosh button?"
A second Franklin D. Roosevelt story is about something that didn't happen.
In June 1961, Miami Herald columnist Philip Weidling "revealed" that, in January 1942, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a brief escape from War-Torn England, had held a secret meeting with Roosevelt at the popular Broward County restaurant Cap's Place. The legend has had legs ever since.
But this writer, in assembling the 1999 book "War in Paradise," about Florida in World War II, contacted biographers who showed -- through diary entries and other documents -- that while Churchill was in the area at the time, Roosevelt was not.
Related: Florida History: We would never be the same after World War II
READER REWIND: Share your memories with Florida Time readers by leaving a voicemail at (850) 270-8418.
Next week: Vizcaya, Whitehall, Cad'zan
Last week: From Burdines to Eckerd Drugs — some of Florida’s lost businesses
From a reader: Dear Mr. Kleinberg, I was raised in Miami since 1953 at the age of five when my father, a young Capt. for Eastern Airlines was transferred there from Atlanta. At that time the Eastern (as well as others) terminal was located on NW 36th St. before Miami International. Probably all of my school clothes were purchased at Burdine's and during the Cuban Missile Crises I would ride my bicycle to US 1 in South Miami to watch the miles-long convoy of army personnel headed into The Keys on Dixie Highway. Your column on business names you may remember brought memories flooding back to me. I can't wait to purchase one of your books. - Bill P., Sarasota
Eliot Kleinberg has been a staff writer for the past three decades at The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, and is the author of 10 books about Florida (www.ekfla.com). Florida Time is a product of GateHouse Media and publishes online in their 22 Florida markets including Jacksonville, Fort Walton Beach, Daytona Beach, Lakeland, Sarasota and West Palm Beach. Submit your questions, comments or memories to FloridaTime@Gatehousemedia.com. Include your full name and hometown. Sorry; no personal replies.