An Open Letter to Franklin Roosevelt

shymilfromchiJanuary 4, 2012

The overwhelming political chatter these days prompted me to dig this out from my files.

My cousin wrote light verse through much of her life. She left her poems to me and I find it fascinating to see how often they reflect the history of her times. She was in her teens when she wrote this. The country was caught in the terrible days of our worst depression and the burden of changing things was on the shoulders of Mr. Roosevelt.


Franklin Roosevelt, President-Elect:

Here's a little catalog

Of things we all expect:

The price of wheat must rise, sir,

For the farmer's sake,

And the cost of flour be lowered;

For the bread we bake.

Provide us with a Navy

of great magnificence,

And set about reducing

The cost of armaments;

The rents we pay as tenants

Must surely be reduced,

The rents we get as landlords

Badly need a boost;

Please see that all our exports

Which sail across the seas

Make lovely profits for us;

Our imports, also, please;

Take care that all our radicals

Are spanked and sent to bed;

And please preserve the liberties

For which our papas bled;

If one should raid the treasury,

Make short work of him;

And please increase the pensions

Of me and my pal Jim.

Mr. Franklin Roosevelt,

It isn't much we ask,

We'd hesitate to set you

A toilsome kind of task;

And a hundred million people

Are ready to be nice,

With a hundred million different

Kinds of sage advice.

Virginia Linwood

President Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933

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Passing by. See.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 3:56AM
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Hey ShyMil!

She was wise beyond her years and I do believe, history always repeats itself. Regardless if we know the outcome. Because humans are humans and we are stuck in our ways!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 8:39AM
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I was eight months old when President Roosevelt was inaugrated in 3/1933. As a child growing up, I never knew that perhaps we were considered poor or didn't have lots of "things", b/c everybody we knew was exactly like us.

Shymil, I'm impressed by the scope of your cousin's realization of what the conditions were in our country at that time. As a teenager, she was wise beyond her years. Thanks for sharing this.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 12:43PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Be careful who you quote. An organization I am involved with just got an e-mail from an attorney demanding $$$ because one of our newsletters from several years ago used a poem without permission of the author, violation of copyright laws. Not sure what is going to happen, we copied an article from some self-help guru's website that included the poem in it and he said he didn't know who wrote it or when. Someone told me anything written, even if not published, is automatically protected by copyright law up to 70 years after the death of the author. Don't know if that is a fact or not- hope your cousin doesn't ask you for money! Or her heirs.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 3:19PM
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Hi tibs,

Thank you for your concern. I know you are right. It is easy to get into trouble by printing something without permission, and sometimes it seems impossible to find the original publisher.

This particular poem was written by my cousin. I am the executrix of her will and an heir to her small estate. Her poems were given to me before her death; I never thought to ask her for written permission to use them. May I give myself permission to use this one? This was never published, although many of her adult poems were - in magazines, in a newspaper in England, and in a (now defunct) column and a book edited by a columnist writing for the Chicago Tribune.

I presumed that the material was old enough for it not to be a problem - but I just looked on the Internet and you are right. I remember when Sonny Bono was elected to Congress and worked to have the copyright laws changed. It certainly can lead to a lot of complications. When I publish the family genealogy, can I include any of her works? May I write them in a private letter to another person? I suspect that she would have been very pleased to have her poems read freely by anyone.

One of the morals of the problem may be to stay good friends with your relatives. We're cool so far.

I hope that your organization will not get stuck with a large fine. I'll bet that the guru is getting sued also.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Thank you for sharing your cousin's work. Seems we are on a treadmill and the same spot keeps coming around.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 10:52PM
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If you're the executrix, I imagine you could also claim to be the literary executrix as well, which would make all the publications decisions YOURS! And any royalties would go to the estate.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Thanks Sara,

That makes me feel more relaxed. It certainly would make sense.

Last night I looked some more on the Internet for the original publishers and could find no trace of several of them. I wonder if a newspaper like the Chicago Tribune would want to take the time of, perhaps their legal department, to bother with something this old and so inconsequential in today's fast-paced world. It would certainly cost them money just to reply to a letter of inquery.

I would like to submit a few more of my cousin's poems, not only because they can be amusing, but because they so bring back the atmosphere of the 1940 through 1960s as much as the TV series, "Mad Men", but I wouldn't want to get GW in trouble, so I won't until I'm absolutely sure that Sara is right.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 10:41PM
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