My Favorite?

People ask me what type of audiences and venues I enjoy most when I am presenting as our 32nd President. I’m afraid my answer to that will, indeed, make me sound like a politician.

I certainly enjoy presenting to retirement communities. These folks are often of an age that they remember (when they were children) living through some of the topics and incidents I discuss. And, they often have very interesting personal anecdotes to add. I even met the daughter of one of FDR’s Secret Service bodyguards. What a thrill!

I love presenting to school children. They are much more interested to learn about our history than I would ever have guessed. And I am constantly impressed with their questions and comments. We have some sharp young people in our schools.

Of course, having the honor of having been invited four times to perform at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York has been incredible. The National Park Service rangers are a great group of people. One even allowed me to sit behind FDR’s actual desk in his small study. That’s where he met with many dignitaries including Winston Churchill when they discussed the Manhattan Project. (There is a picture of me at the desk in the photos section.)

My visits to and presentations to other National Parks have also been very fulfilling. Every American should visit as many NPS parks, forests and historic sites as they possibly can. We have such a rich natural and historic story. And it’s there for all of us to enjoy.

Libraries, civic groups, and private organizations always provide wonderful audiences. They are too numerous to list but a highlight at one was when I was presented with a large framed photograph of FDR that was ACTUALLY signed by Roosevelt, himself. It proudly hangs on the wall in my home.

And then there was the rededication of the Bonneville Damn in Oregon delivering the same speech that FDR had seventy-five years prior. That was unique but was it as unique as the internet commercial for Aviation Gin or the video clips for a woman’s fortieth birthday party in Ohio?

I would certainly be remiss if I did not mention performing for the Museum of American Armor in Long Island, New York. The folks out there have invited the President at least half a dozen times. This wonderful museum of WWII vintage equipment (tanks, jeeps, howitzers, staff cars, troop movers, etc.) is amazing. Just as amazing is their quest to keep our important WWII history alive. My wife and I have become good friends of Superstar Volunteer (and heart and soul of the museum) Gary Lewi and volunteer photographer Nancy Epstein. These fine, fine folks are just a wonderful bonus to a reenacting career.

So, what’s my favorite? Well, there is no one place or one type of audience that is the best or is my favorite. It’s the thrill of hearing: “I felt as though I was really watching and listening to him”, “I really learned a lot” and “You captured him perfectly!” That’s what makes it fun and rewarding. That’s what makes me look forward to my next audience. I hope to see you there.

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An Emotional Pilgrimage

I was finally able to visit two spots that have been on my “wish list” for years. A triangular trip took us to both Campobello Island and Warm Spring, Georgia–two of FDR’s favorite locations.

The summer cabin at Campobello (just off the coast of Maine but actually on Canadian soil) was his summer retreat from age one until he was 39 years old. This is where the insidious polio virus first exhibited itself even though he probably contracted the virus several weeks before at a New York Boy Scout camp he had visited. He did journey to Campobello several times after polio struck in 1921 but his “Beloved Island” was where the young FDR gained his appreciation of nature as well as learning about life and hard work from the local fishermen he befriended. It is a beautiful cottage (if a cottage can have 34 rooms and servants) that is maintained by a combined U.S./Canadian commission.

The second half of our pilgrimage took us to Warm Springs, Georgia, about 75 miles south of Atlanta. It was here that FDR traveled to in 1924 seeking a cure for his polio. The natural warm springs pools there did not cure his polio but they did bring him comfort and peace. In fact, he fell in love with the nearby Pine Mountain and would travel to the area any time his schedule would allow during his New York governship and his presidency. He used two-thirds of his personal savings and purchased a run-down resort and turned it into a center for polio convalescence. Then he created the Warm Springs Foundation and turned over the property to the Foundation. It remains today as a center for treating post-polio symptoms, spinal cord injuries, strokes, and other disabilities.

It was during his visits to Warm Springs that FDR would ride through the countryside and stop to chat with the farmers, mostly sharecroppers scraping to make a living. He listened and learned from them. Those conversations inspired New Deal programs such as the Rural Electrification Authority that brought affordable electricity to remote areas.

In 1932 he designed and had a small, six room cottage built. It was dubbed The Little White House and he loved to go there and relax. But he also invited friends, staff and dignitaries and had working vacations. It was at The Little White House, where on April 12, 1945 while a portrait of him was being painted, that FDR suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. The cottage has been left much as it was on that sad day.

He also loved to drive about 8 miles up the mountain to a location known as Dowdell’s Knob. The spot affords an amazing panoramic view of the Georgia timberland below. It is extremely quiet, serene and beautiful. Just two days before his death the President went to The Knob and asked his Secret Servicemen to leave him alone for a visit. Today a bronze figure of a seated FDR looking out at the view and the barbecue grill he had built can be found. I went to the Knob twice on my trip and found the peace that he must have found whenever he went there and especially on that last visit. I could almost sense his presence. It was a very emotional end to an amazing pilgrimage. I shall cherish this and keep it deep within me as I present my homage to this great man in the future.

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A Fabulous Fourth

What a glorious way to spend our nation’s birthday.  “President Roosevelt” enjoyed a three day stay in “Nebraska’s Fourth of July City” — Seward, Nebraska.  Sharing the stage with Winston Churchill (portrayed by the enormously talented Ted Kachel) was a blast.  The two WWII leaders offered thoughts and wisdom on their shared experiences and leadership roles.

We delivered a “live” Fireside Chat over the radio, presented a session on leadership to Nebraska National Guard officers and enlisted men, gave presentations to packed museum audiences and conducted a question and answer session following a FDR documentary screening at a historic local theater.  Of course, we led the Fourth of July Parade in vintage WWII era jeeps.

The hospitality provided by Museum Director Jerry Meyer and numerous sponsors was first class.  It is always such a thrill to find hidden treasures in our nation such as Seward, Nebraska–a small town with a big heart that epitomizes “Americana.”

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“A Fireside Chat”

I am very happy and proud to announce my newest and most unique FDR Lives presentation.  On February 15, 2019 I premiered the two-act, one man show “A Fireside Chat.”  The sell-out audience at the Schauer Center for the Arts in Hartford, Wisconsin delivered a standing ovation to FDR (well, me actually) at the end of the evening.

The show mixes humor, anecdotes and historical facts to entertain and inform the audience about FDR’s triumphs, regrets, life highlights and historically significant events.  Audience members are drawn into the production even further as the president chats with them and solicits answers to questions.  The hour and forty-five minute production (including intermission) gives an honest and thought-provoking portrait of the President who ranks with Washington and Lincoln as the three greatest U.S. Presidents and the one person most responsible for shaping the twentieth century.

The production is ideal for community theater “dark nights” since it requires only a very simple stage configuration, two set pieces, as well as simple lighting and sound cues.  But it also works well for presentations to organizations, or community events.  I would love to talk with you about it or answer any questions you might have.  My contact information can be found under the “Booking”  tab.

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Semper Paratus

What a wonderful greeting President Roosevelt received from the men and women of District 15 of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  Our 32nd President delivered the keynote address at their Change of Watch and talked about his love of, affection for and connection to the sea.  It was a wonderful afternoon in Glens Falls, New York.  The hospitality of Michael West was incredible, topped off with a gift of an genuine autographed photographic portrait of FDR (originally given by the President to Congressman Clyde Ellis. )

While I was in the area I was able to present my newest program, “My Life Changer” which talks about FDR’s polio–how it struck, his rehabilitation and how it changed his life and philosophy.  The program was enthusiastically received at three retirement communities in the Albany/Niskayuna, New York area.  I have visited these communities numerous times and the residents are warm, inviting, attentive and knowledgeable.  It is a joy to present here.  I’m beginning to make contacts at retirement communities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (my new home) and I look forward to meeting the wonderful seniors here, as well.

Now it’s time to enjoy the holiday season.  I look forward to picking up my busy schedule in the new year.  FDR will be “on the road” again, soon.

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Freedoms Shared

What a great experience I had this past week sharing background on The Four Freedoms with middle schoolers who attended Camp History at the DiMenna Children’s Museum, which is part of the New York Historical Society.

The camp ran two, separate week long sessions and I was able to share FDR’s thoughts and experiences with campers each week. These bright young people were a wonderful audience and the interaction between them and “the President” was amazing.

We talked about events leading up to the Four Freedoms speech and the implications and ramifications of that, now famous, speech which was the closing section of the 1941 State of the Union address by FDR. The campers offered their ideas of important freedoms and the President talked about his personal freedoms.

All in all, this was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had in my FDR career. I hope I can return to the museum and other NYC venues.

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WWII Revisited

The weeks surrounding Memorial day were very busy for our 32nd POTUS.  A WWII encampment, a visit to a wonderful museum and an air show were all on the agenda.

The Museum of American Armor at Bethpage on Long Island, New York is an amazing assemblage of WWII armored and support vehicles.  All are kept in working order and are brought out for special weekend recreations and demonstrations.  FDR was on hand to greet visitors at the MOAA WWII Weekend.

Then it was on to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire and the Wright Museum of World War II.  This is a spectacular museum in a beautiful resort town.  Exhibits capture our country at war and also focus on how the war affected the home front.  My presentation on the home front fit right in with the marvelous exhibits.  A sell-out crowd was very engaged and posed great questions.  If you are in the area make sure you visit the Wright Museum.

On Memorial Day weekend FDR was honored to greet guests at Republic Airport (back on Long Island) who came to watch take off and landings of vintage aircraft, the Canadian Snow Birds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels as they participated in the Jones Beach Air Show.  Sheltair Aviation was the host for this great event.

I can think of no better way to spend time around Memorial Day than to portray the President who guided our country  through the dark days of World War II.

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Cousins Reunite

It has finally come to fruition.  “The Roosevelts:  A Conversation with the Rough Rider and the New Dealer” has come to life.  The talented Adam Lindquist and I premiered our TR and FDR show to a corporate audience in Rochester, Minnesota on May 8.

The reception was fantastic!  The audience was engaged throughout the hour and a half presentation.  And the questions at the end were intelligent and inspired.  We couldn’t have been more pleased.

The two presidents, who are consistently named in the top five of historians’ lists of most important, effective and influential presidents of the United States have a lot in common besides their last names.  The sell-out audience in Rochester were both entertained and educated on two giants who helped shape the 20th century of our country.

We look forward to bringing “The Roosevelts” to audiences throughout our country.

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My Home on the Hudson River

FDR was quoted as saying, “All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River.”  When you visit the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site it is easy to see why he said that.  The home (Springwood), the library and the Henry A.Wallace Visitor and Education Center welcome, educate and inspire the thousands of visitors who come to this beautiful spot in Hyde Park, New York.

Whenever I am given the opportunity to present there as our 32nd President it is a thrill and an honor.  That was certainly the case for President’s Day 2018.  The presentation was sold out in four days (a record) and the audience was enthusiastic and engaged.  Their questions for the President at the end of the presentation were intelligent and inspired.

Franceska Macsali-Urbin, Scott Rector and Bill Urbin at the site are wonderful people to work with and true professionals.  I look forward to seeing them again and going “back to my home on the Hudson River.

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A Family Reunion

I’m very excited to announce that a new production is just around the corner and it will bring two of our countries most dynamic Presidents to the same stage.  “The Roosevelts:  A Conversation with the Rough Rider and the New Dealer” will allow audiences to experience our 26th and 32nd POTUS in a live presentation.

I met Adam Lindquist in 2016 when we were both presenting at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park during their centennial celebration.  Adam is the consummate Theodore Roosevelt reenactor.  He looks, thinks, talks and reacts as TR.  His extensive research and study has paid off richly.  He IS Teddy Roosevelt.

Adam and I hit it off immediately and continued our relationship after our meeting in Kentucky.  After numerous communications we hit upon the idea of a two-man Roosevelt show.  We drafted a script and honed it after numerous revisions.  We are very excited to bring the final result to our premier performance May, 2018 in Rochester, Minnesota.

Audiences will finally get a chance to meet the two U.S. Presidents who consistently appear in historians’ “top five Presidents of all time.”  They will learn how the two men headed rival, major political parties but shared common roots.  It will be a rare insight into these two giants.  Their differences and similarities will become clear.

Adam and I hope that you will be able to enjoy, “The Roosevelts:  A Conversation with the Rough Rider and the New Dealer” in the future.  Feel free to contact me about booking information.


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