I didn’t think I’d ever spend two hours a night for seven consecutive nights watching a TV program.
But at the end of Ken Burns’ excellent production of “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” I had reached two conclusions:
1) American TV can occasionally measure up to British quality and 2) Franklin D. Roosevelt may indeed have been our second most influential president. Numerous online polls rank him second only to Abraham Lincoln.
Surprisingly, I heard no thunderclap of reprimand from wherever my late father is when I wrote the above.
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I was born into a rock-ribbed Republican family that thrived on an intense dislike of FDR and his wife, Eleanor. Any time the president came on with one of his many “fireside chats,” we kids were ordered immediately to turn off the old Philco.
We even mimicked his “I hate war. My wife Eleanor hates war …” from one of many speeches promising that no American boys would be sent to World War II.
But at the time of his death, during an unprecedented fourth term, FDR was well-liked and admired by much of the electorate for his daring leadership and programs that began pulling the nation out of the depths of the Great Depression.
Burns’ production revealed how protective the news media were of the polio-crippled president’s public image.
Even his longtime affair with Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd was not generally known until Raleigh editor Jonathan Daniels, FDR’s one-time press secretary, published his “The Time Between the Wars” in 1966.
Contrast that White House press coverage with that of today. President Barack Obama can hardly sneeze without making headlines and spawning a typhoon of criticism.
Regarding FDR’s affair, Mrs. Roosevelt’s first cousin, Alice Longworth Roosevelt, excused it, quipping: “He deserved a good time. He was married to Eleanor.”
My father suffered from a common fault. While he could find no motes in his own party’s eyes, he found them abundantly in the opposition’s.
I was the only one of his 10 sons to eventually realize the folly of such a political philosophy.
FDR, like all presidents, was not without blemish.
But I thank him every month when my Social Security check arrives at my bank.
Poet Carl Sandburg wrote, “The fog comes/ on little cat feet.”
So does dusk these days, sneaking up from the woodland behind the house, chasing daylight into the shadows that swiftly lead to night.
Autumn has charm of a sort, with its splash of color, its lure of mountain trips to fetch Winesaps from the foothills’ orchards and maybe take in some of the doings at Mount Airy’s Mayberry.
It’s pansy-planting time and time to clean out the bluebird boxes so the year-rounders can sleep there on wintry nights.
I must remember to take the nest with the one unhatched egg across the street for little Cash, my neighbors’ grandson, who is fascinated with everything that moves and some that don’t.
I suppose my greatest lament is that autumn is the precursor of winter, which, actually, is my real season of discontent.
Ere long, Daylight Saving Time will expire Nov. 2, when night will reclaim the extra hour of light we’ve had on loan since March.
But then, day will gradually begin to triumph over night. It will again be legal to dream of daffodils and the sounds of Nature singing in our world.
Responding to a recent item about obituaries, Delyle Evans of Eden writes: “I like the article you wrote some time ago about inscriptions on tombstones. My favorite was ‘Here lies Mary Hornblower, who lived fifty years with her husband and died with the hope of a better life to come.’ ”