Grandchildren Remember FDR White House Days
DALLAS (AP) _ It was 40 years ago today that President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, but two of his grandchildren still share fond memories of visiting the White House during World War II.
BothElliott ″Tony″ Roosevelt and Chandler Roosevelt Lindsley remember the late president as a loving grandfather who cared deeply about his family.
″There was always lots of laughter and lots of good times around him,″ said Roosevelt. ″He had a great interest in the family having a good time.″
Tony Roosevelt, who was 6 and his sister 8 in 1942, remembers sliding down bannisters at the White House, and setting off security alarms when he and his friends played too close to the White House fence.
″The White House, especially the third floor where guests stayed, was a great place for young kids to play,″ he said.
During World War II, Mrs. Lindsley said, she would play in her grandfather’s bedroom while his advisers briefed the president on the war effort.
″They would always ask if it was OK to discuss war matters with me there in the room,″ she recalled. ″He said, ’Yes, of course.‴
While the president was making decisions that would affect the course of world history, this fact seemed unextraordinary to the grandchildren.
″He was president from the time we were born,″ Mrs. Lindsley recalled. ″It was a fact of our lives and didn’t seem unusual.″
Both are two of the children born to FDR’s son, Elliott, during his 11-year marriage to the former Ruth Goggins of Fort Worth.
They lived during the school year at their parents’ Dutch Branch Ranch about 15 miles outside Fort Worth with their brother, David, who now lives in Connecticut.
Even at the Texas ranch, the children could not escape the fact that their grandfather was president.
″We had Secret Service who lived with us at the ranch all the time,″ Lindsley said. ″They took us to school and even came out onto the playground at recess. If I spent the evening with a friend they slept outside in a car all night.″
The young children, however, considered the agents more as companions than bodyguards, she said. She recalled that they often made toys for the children, played with them and taught them marksmanship by taking the children to a nearby creek to shoot snakes.
FDR died April 12, 1945, at Warm Springs, Ga., in the closing days of World War II. This year, the anniversary of his death is attracting more than the usual amount of attention because it falls in the midst of the international 40th anniversary observances for such events as V-E Day, May 7, and the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, Aug. 6.
The Dallas Roosevelt heirs do not plan to attend any of the special programs marking the observance, choosing to maintain their privacy.
Roosevelt is an executive with an oil and gas company and his sister is the mother of three children and active in several educational organizations.
Both say that they are not active in promoting the Roosevelt legacy, but keep family photographs of their grandfather in their homes and attend periodic reunions at Hyde Park.
Not all of FDR’s descendants are liberals like their famous grandfather, they note.
″There is a great deal of diversity in the family now,″ said Roosevelt. ″We’ve got to be our own people. We can’t worry about what two generations ago thought or did.″