Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tuskegee Airmen

Our week at Pine Mountain turned into the chance to see a lot of history. Our plan was to see the Little White House but we found much more nearby. In the past few years I have read books about all of the historic sites we saw this week which makes it that much better. When you see it in person, the stories in the books make it so much more real. We sure appreciate the people that donate money and time and State and Federal agencies that keep all of these historic sites in top shape. And there are two more places we stopped at this week after this post!

Here is a story from World War II. 

Tuskegee Alabama is located east of Montgomery along I-85. Tuskegee Airmen were an all African American fighter group that served in WWII. Have you seen signs along various highways naming them Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway? How about I-75, I-57, I-80, I-70 and other highways?  I saw these and read about their history and saw the movie about them. I knew they were close to where we are staying so it was another day trip to check it out. When we arrived at Moton Field this week, we also learned about more history in Tuskegee from people at the museum in Hanger One. African Americans have a lot to be proud of in Tuskegee. 

Tuskegee is also the home of the Tuskegee Institute, a famous school started by African Americans in 1881. It has a long history and is in use today. Have you heard of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver? They worked and lived here in the late 1800's and early 1900's. A Carnegie Library was built in 1901. The history here is extensive. It's currently a large university. We did not have time to see the campus, maybe next time. Look at this National Park Service site for more information.

The African Americans wanted to serve in WWII but were denied. It was quite a battle to get started. Eleanor Roosevelt was involved in wartime politics and had a hand in allowing them to join the war effort. The Tuskegee story is filled with discrimination stories they suffered at the time. To read more about this very interesting history see Tuskegee Airmen at Wikipedia and Moton Field Tuskegee for more information. The 99th Fighter Group at Tuskegee was finally combined with the 332nd Fighter Group.

One more history story for Indiana residents. The 477th Fighter Group was relocated to Freeman Field at Seymour Indiana. Black/white airmen did not mix and could not enter the officers club even though some were officers. Officers of the 477th peaceably tried to enter the whites-only Officer's Club. This turned into court martial offenses for all those African Americans involved. After lots of conflict, the charges were dropped for all but one airman was discharged. African American Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was given command of the 477th after the incident. More information can be found at Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. It's a story close to home since we lived not far from Seymour.

Hanger One contained offices, maintenance and some hanger space.

Hanger Two and the control tower was hanger space. This building burned in the 1980's and has been reconstructed by the National Park Service.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. (standing) was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. Shown here, he is arguing for the inclusion of the Tuskegee Airmen into combat after their training had been completed. He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Air Force. 

Benjamin O. Davis is on the left.

The 477 Group

P-51 Fighter, a much better airplane that they were using when WWII began.

I went into the Control Tower for a view of the field.

Piper but not sure of the model? 

Stearman Model 75 is a biplane built by Boeing. There were 10,346 built in the United States during the 1930's and 1940's as a military trainer aircraft

Radial Engine identification plate.

FDR and The Little White House in Warm Springs Georgia

We left Bella Terra on Monday before noon and arrived at Pine Mountain Georgia ten hours later. This drive put us away from any inland weather from Gordon. Traffic north on I-65 was packed and average speed was about 25 MPH. I-85 east of Montgomery was better but we arrived at Pine Mountain about two hours after dark, not much fun. This drive should have been about six hours, not ten hours.

Pine Mountain is about 90 miles south west of Atlanta. We plan to be here until next Monday September 10. Our reason to stop here is visiting the Little White House Warm Springs Georgia, about fifteen miles from Pine Mountain. We then discovered other interesting places within easy driving distance but more to follow on these.

President Franklin Roosevelt had a small house in Warm Springs before he was President. FDR was exposed to Polio at a Boy Scout camp in 1921. He came here to seek treatment for his Polio in 1924 and liked it so much, he built the house on 1200 acres in 1932. There is a lot of history here about what he did for the area and for many people that had polio. I have read a few books about FDR and found him to be one of my favorite presidents. He accomplished many things that we all benefit from today such as Social Security. Read about his "New Deal" and the many programs he started. Remember, when he started his first term, the Great Recession was under way. I won't repeat all of the history on the blog but I suggest you read The Little White House. Here is information FDR's Polio. I know much more history about FDR than I have space for on the blog. 

We need him now like the country needed him in 1932.

He was so popular, FDR was elected to four terms, the only president to have more than two terms. His fourth was in 1944 but he died April 12,1945. He did not make it through his fourth term and he also did not live to see the end of World War II. The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution put a limit on how many times a person could be elected to be President. A person is limited to eight (and possibly ten) years as president. Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947. FDR History is a good source for more information or Google FDR and find plenty of information. 

On another of our journeys, we plan to visit his Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York to tell more about the story of FDR's involvement in the Great Depression and World War II.

This is a long post and I have many more photos but Google may get upset if I add too many more. Here are some of them to tell the story of FDR and Warm Springs.

Wax figure in the Museum on the property.

There are only a few photos of him wearing his leg braces or being moved in his wheel chair. He wore them hidden under his clothing and never let the public see them. He did not want to appear weak in front of the public.

This is the car he was frequently seen in as he drove around Warm Springs.
He designed hand controls for the car so he could drive.

FDR spoke to the people frequently through radio broadcast stations. He called these Fireside Chats. Quite different from the #%#@$%^ we here and watch on television today.

Rural Electrification was one of his many projects. He grew up in Hyde Park New York in society and wealth. His trips to Warm Springs introduced him to the lack of electricity, poverty and hardships of the rest of America. Many of his New Deal programs were the result of being with the people and seeing how they lived at the time.
He was a great stamp collector. I wonder what this collection is worth today?
There are many stories about FDR.

All of these canes were gifts to FDR.
Missy was one of several important people to FDR during his political life.

Louis Howe was his political advisor and close friend of FDR.

Eleanor did many things to improve poverty, segregation and the military.
There are several great books available about her.

The "Bump Gate" that FDR would drive his car through by bumping it to swing it open.

A number of Marines were located behind the house and stood guard any time FDR was present.
This guard post is to the left of the bump gate.

Secret Service was also on duty. This guard post is to the right of the bump gate.

The building on the left is the Guest House. The building on the right was servants quarters.

The Little White House.

His cook wrote a message on the wall the day he died. It's hard to see but the plaque has the message. The elderly lady volunteer at the house told us several stories about FDR, the house and things that happened at the time.

On April 12, 1945, FDR passed out in this chair from a cerebral hemorrhage. His portrait was being painted by artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff when he raised his hand over his head and slumped forward in the chair. He died three hours later in the bedroom. 

The Unfinished Portrait as it was when he died, on display at the Museum.

The entire country was shocked and saddened when FDR died.

The Rehabilitation Center was the result of FDR and his great interest in helping others with severe illnesses. It's still an active center today in Warm Springs.
Polio was a terrible disease prior to 1955. If you are old enough, you may know someone that had Polio. I remember it and the great fear that our parents had for us as children. The treatment pools at Warm Springs were filled with warm mineral water from the hillsides. Polio victims spent hours in these pools to relieve some of their pain and stiffness. Dr. Jonas Salk developed the vaccine in 1955, followed by Dr. Albert Sabin who later created the oral "sugar cube" vaccine that we received at that time. The vaccine stopped the spread and eliminated the disease.

The Museum at the Springs.

An inclined bed that was used for treatment.

This was the "Iron Lung" that was used for patients that had difficulty breathing when the disease attacked the lungs. Some had to stay in this for weeks or months until their muscles were strong enough for them to breath on their own.

Used in the pool for treatment.
The pools are empty now but the Georgia Park Service plans to repair them and make them available a few times every year. The pools are behind the Museum.

Here is the inclined bed and a chair they used in the pools. The ramp in the center was access for the wheelchairs into the water.

The next blog post coming soon .......