Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer Afternoons

A couple of pages from my summer art journal for you today. Many summer days are leisurely for me, and I am savoring every minute.  I think I could get used to this laid back style. 
I take that back, I think I am used to this laid back style.
One thing I am really enjoying this summer is just hanging out at home. Coming and going as I please, not keeping to the work schedule. Throw in a few little outings, and of course my trip to Iceland, its been my kind of summer.
Speaking of little outings, yesterday I showed you FDR's home in Hyde Park, New York. Today I am going to show you his wife's home after FDR passed away. It is on the opposite side of the family property, a place called Val-Kill. 
When asked about the name, it comes from the Dutch. I guess Kill means river, and Val referred to the stream that ran through the property.
Here's that stream. Right before a huge thunderstorm struck. Kind of ominous. Cool cloud reflection in the stream.
Anyhow, Eleanor Roosevelt  is my new heroine. From what I learned, she was an amazing lady. She really believed in equality and human rights of all people, and that the middle classes deserved more of the economic pie. She traveled widely, took the reins when her husband, FDR, came down with polio, and later in life she was the US's first ambassador to the United Nations, along with entertaining many world leaders. Because she believed in human rights for all people, at one point she had a $25,000 reward for her death (from the Klu Klux Klan). That didn't stop her. She also believed and worked for world peace, especially in areas of conflict.
A woman ahead of her time. Her husband was a man ahead of his too.
Val-Kill was originally built as a furniture factory to help local people learn a sustainable trade during the 1930's economic depression. After it closed the family turned it into a place for day picnics, as it was a few miles from the main house. After FDR passed away. Eleanor made it her permanent home and lived there until her death in 1962.
 I love how this sophisticated woman chose to live in such a cute and simple little cottage. That fence is a very deep swimming pool where you might have seen photos of FDR swimming with the kids. It is under renovation now by the National Park Service.

Even the interior of this place was simple and homey and could be my house.

A lot of the wooden furniture in her home was made by the people she trained at the factory. 
To me, it makes me admire this woman even more. The other home we visited that day (we did 3) was the Vanderbilt mansion from the late 1800's.  All gilt and show and almost disgusting if it wasn't a museum.  As the park ranger said, the Vanderbilts were new money and had to show it off.  The Roosevelts were old money and didn't need to prove anything. But I think this down to earth house proves a lot of Eleanor.
When she passed away, one of her sons tried to give this place to the Park Service as happened with his father's, FDR's home.  They wouldn't take it because who took the homes of first ladies? It was doomed for the wrecking ball but then citizens collected money to buy it and save it.  Finally when Jimmy Carter was president he took it for the Park Service. I think it was smart because I don't think Eleanor Roosevelt was just a first lady. I think the hundreds of thousands of miles she traveled and all the work she actually did made her more of a premier diplomat.
Elizabeth mentioned a show on PBS (American Experience)  going through the presidents. I have just started catching the tail end of it because for some reason our record didn't record any of the earlier ones. I am going to go back and see if I can find the at least the FDR one on-line because its a really good series-if you live here in the US and like history.
OK, enough said here. Thanks for stopping by everyone.


Valerie-Jael said...

Thanks for showing the photos and telling more about Eleanor Roosevelt, really a great lady, and so glad her lovely home has been preserved for posterity. You have had a great vacation, seen and done a lot, and had fun - that's great. Love the pages in your summer journal. Have a fun day, hugs, Valerie

Gibby Frogett said...

Hi Erika... for some reason, probably because of the shapes, I thought of the Olympics when I saw your first piece of art - but I think its pretty cool!
Your second pages are totally different - I really love this style.
I thought yesterdays FDR was fascinating but your post today about Eleanor Roosevelt has left me wanting to know more about her now. Lovely photos and thoroughly enjoyed reading about this amazing lady.
Gill xx

Divers and Sundry said...

She was an inspiration. I should say _is_ an inspiration. I'm glad this piece of history has been saved.

Meggymay said...

Lovely photos and thank you for telling us a little of the history of the houses. Eleanor's house looks so homely . Your journal pages are fantastic and its good to read that you have enjoyed the summer break.
Yvonne x

sheila 77 said...

Hello Erika,
I enjoyed this history lesson too as I know very little of your country's history. Great to read and see the photos too.
Holidays at home can be quite special, and it's good to see how much you are enjoying it through your blog and journal.
I went back up to choose a favourite day from your pages but decided I like them all.

Jeannette said...

your summer pages are wonderful,and thank you for the history of eleanor roosevelt,she was a beautiful lady.
have a nice day.

hugs jenny

Jeanie said...

First of all, I adore Eleanor and all she did so I loved this post. (Eleanor and Franklin is sitting on my bookstack). But I especially love this home. It looks like something I could live in and be very comfortable. Not at all pretentious. Lovely post.