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Some Kids I Have Known
The Day Franklin Delano Roosevelt Died


We were on our way back to the ranch from Ponca City where some chore or another had to be done.  My Uncle had driven us in his new Buick. This car was more road worthy than Dad's pick up he used for ranch work. The sixty miles from Ponca to home took more time in the pick-up. Usually, each family had some business in town.  In order to save time and expenses both families combined their gas and car  together.

The radio was on with music to entertain when a break in the program called their attention to an announcement.

“The President of the United States of America has died. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is dead.”  The statement was short, flat, and matter of fact. However, the pause before and after this statement made me know, even at the age of eight years, this was a serious thing to happen. I can't remember the commentary after that. The sudden silence in the car too, made me know this was an uncommon event.

The politics in our family was mixed and it seemed they were always at odds with each other over it. All and all our lives were peaceful with steady work and dutiful commitments to keep  everyone busy and pleasant. This issue over politics was the only thing to break into that orderly lifestyle.

“Yeah, I know what you did.”  Grampa stood in the middle of the floor and shook his finger at Gramma Bell.  “You voted for that no good Thomas E. Dewey.  You canceled my vote out for Delano. That is what you did.”

Not to be intimidated Gramma responded. “I did that.”

“I knew you did. You bet cha!  You did it. Delano didn't even get my vote.”

All the cane thumping on the floor and the finger pointing didn't bother Gramma. “Oh yeah, I've heard all about it. She quoted the President. “Ah Hates Wah!  Delano hates Wah!  Well, I hates Delano.”

Grampa couldn't do anything but try to jump up and down in one spot looking a little like a child having a tantrum. He was so angry he couldn't do anything but grit his teeth,  growl,  and swear.

Grampa was what was called a “Yella Dog Democrat,” which simply meant if a Yella Dog ran for president he would vote for it.  Gramma on the other hand was a died in the wool, conservative Republican,  and she hated all Democrats.  One by one she aligned her family up with her.  That is, all except, her daughter-in-law who joined forces with Grampa.  Lee, Bell's   son, remained neutral much to her frustration.

As I look back and reflect on the events to have gone on around the time of Roosevelt's death I take time to ask, “If Gramma hated Delano that much why did she buy the pearl harbor pin and wear it when she went to town?  How come she talked enough about the new deal,  the phrase remains with me to this day?”

Roosevelt died in 1945 and Gramma died in 1946. I can never read about Roosevelt without thinking about Gramma Bell. Isn't that ironic?


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