Barbara Dyer: When President Roosevelt took the train from Rockland to Washington, D.C.
This month of January, as we watch the snow fall and feel the record low temperatures everywhere, we can not help but remember that one of the greatest men in history was born on January 30, 1882. He had a profound effect on Camden and the whole world. He led the United States through the Great Depression and World War II. He was the only United States president to be elected four times, serving 12 years in office from March 4, 1933 to his death on April 12, 1945.
Thirteen million Americans were unemployed and the banks were closed when he designed the “alphabet agencies.”
We all remember the CCC camps, as one was located at our Camden Hills State Park. So many of our unemployed young men were hired to clear the trails and build all the shelters we see there today. Then there was the WPA that helped build the Snow Bowl, along with our many local volunteer men.
However, Frances Perkins, of Maine, served as the U. S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position and the first woman appointed to the U. S. Cabinet.
I have heard that it was she who came up with many of the aspects of the New Deal. There is a Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta to preserve the Perkins family homestead, designated as a Historic Landmark.
The picture of the open touring car was taken of President Roosevelt riding in Rockland on his way to get the train back to Washington, after the meeting with Winston Churchill in the Atlantic for what was termed as the “Atlantic Charter.”
President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, representing H.M. Government of the United Kingdom, met at sea accompanied by high ranking officers of their military, naval and air services. They agreed upon the following declaration: The President of the United States and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their countries which their hopes for a better future of the world.
There were eight paragraphs describing it. That became known as the Atlantic Charter.
The photograph of the open touring car, with President Roosevelt with the straw hat, was taken in Rockland after the meeting, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt went to take the train to Washington. Everyone went to see the President, and only knew he had met with Churchill in the North Atlantic. He gave a speech one year later to tell about the meeting.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, he gave a speech that never will be forgotten, and the last paragraph was, “I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by the Japanese on Sunday, December 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.”
I never expected to see the small town of Camden go into such a fast turn to prepare for war.
Everyone was so patriotic and took their part. A Woman's Motor Corp rolled bandages for the Red Cross. Some spotted planes, some went to take shifts at the Control Center. The Army Camp arrived and the Coast Guard was patrolling, with some stationed on Curtis Island, looking for German submarines. (And there were some). USO dances were held in the Opera House for the servicemen and the young ladies of Camden.
Eleanor Roosevelt visited Camden on February 8, 1943, when she christened a barge built by Camden Shipbuilding because her husband thought this was a way to get coal to New England for fuel.
WORLD WAR II was here.
Barbara F. Dyer has lived in Camden all of her life, so far.
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