LaGRANGE — It’s doubtful there’s anyone in Troup County who knows more about Georgia’s impact on President Franklin D. Roosevelt than Kaye Minchew — after all, she did write the book on it.
Minchew, the former director of the Troup County Historical Society, spoke about her new book, “A President In Our Midst: Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Georgia,” on Wednesday at a meeting of the LaGrange Rotary Club.
“He always felt revived by the waters of Warm Springs, and by the people there,” she said, referring to the small Meriwether County town the 32nd president visited for polio treatment. “It’s a fascinating story, and I’m glad to share it.”
Minchew explained Roosevelt first came to Warm Springs nearly 92 years ago, in October 1924. Roosevelt’s friend had told him about the silica-rich natural springs that flowed from the nearby Pine Mountain hillside, advising him of the water’s healing powers.
“At the time, it was sort of a ‘down on its heels’ resort,” Minchew explained. “But Roosevelt thought he immediately improved in the water.”
In 1932, Roosevelt built his “Little White House,” which Minchew said was modeled after homes in nearby Greenville.
“The great thing about it is how simple it is,” she said of the modest home. “You can pretty much feel FDR there.”
During his time in Georgia, Minchew explained, Roosevelt was touched by the Georgians he met, and many of his policies, including the New Deal, were influenced by his experiences talking with rural Georgians.
Roosevelt would die at the Little White House on April 12, 1945, of a stroke. Today, the home is open to the public and acts as a museum and historic site.
Dr. George Henry, current president of the Rotary Club, said he remembered learning of Roosevelt’s death during his childhood, and recommended Minchew’s book to the club.
“I’m almost at a loss for words,” Henry said. “I’m touched. My birthday is Dec. 7 (Pearl Harbor Day), and I was 7 years old when he died; I can remember it.
“I’m looking forward to everyone having a chance to read this book,” he added.
Minchew will be on hand Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. for a book signing and reception at the Legacy Museum, 136 Main St. in LaGrange.
Copies of her book, “A President In Our Midst: Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Georgia,” were published in May by the University of Georgia Press and are available for purchase for $34.95 plus tax.
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.