The Death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 1945

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938. Photo by Harris and Ewing.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938. Photo by Harris and Ewing.

We lived in north central Osage county, Oklahoma at this time. Our home was four miles east of Foraker, Oklahoma, on a gravel road.  We had one neighbor between our house and town, and it was one and a half miles from our house to theirs.  We did not have electricity or phones, but neither did most rural areas at this time.  Our source of news was a battery-powered (Borg-Warner) radio, or the Tulsa Daily World newspaper which was 24 hours old by the time we received it.

Because of the remote location and the lack of cars in our vicinity, a car on the road in front our house was an uncommon sight.  On this particular day, Mr. Castleman, who owned the local grocery store that also housed the post office, came driving down the road in his old Plymouth car and pulled up at our house.

A car stopping at our house was a rare event.   We all quit what we were doing and came to see what was going on.  When my mother saw Mr. Castleman get out of the car, she became very upset and started crying.  I couldn’t understand why she was acting this way, but she said that he must be coming with news about my brother who was serving in the Army in the Pacific.  The government notified rural families by sending the local Postmaster to the house when something happened to a child or spouse serving in the war.

We all met Mr. Castleman on the front porch.  He did not make small talk but just said; “the President is dead.”  At that news Mama cried even more, this time from relief that her son was alive.   I couldn’t believe the news and asked; “how will this affect the war?”  I knew the war was nearly over in Europe, so I wanted to know how this would affect my other brother who was serving on the European front getting to come home.

There had never been another President in my life time, but even so most of our thoughts were on the impact to our family and loved ones serving in the war.

My 12th and 13th years were the most traumatic of my life for many years to come.

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