Karen Chase

img_0133_2 fdr-coverAs the rest of the country flourished in the merriment of the Jazz Age, Franklin Delano Roosevelt withdrew from public life and sought treatment after treatment to reverse the crippling effects of polio that struck him in 1921. Believing that warm water and fresh air would help him walk again, he bought a houseboat and spent the winter months in The Florida Keys fishing, swimming, playing Parcheesi, and entertaining his numerous guests. Aboard the Larooco, FDR kept a nautical log of the day’s events, guests, and rare visits by his wife Eleanor who disliked the carefree atmosphere of the houseboat. This daily nautical log was unknown to the public until author and poet Karen Chase stumbled upon it while doing research for her memoir, Polio Boulevard, about her own experiences with polio.

In FDR on His Houseboat: The Larooco Log, 1924-1926 Chase presents and expands upon FDR’s journal entries, including 82 black-and-white photographs to form a timeline of two arenas – one man’s private life full of both struggle and fun, set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties. Chase gives us a side of FDR seldom seen before, revealing his sense of humor, penchant for practical jokes, and concern over not regaining the use of his crippled legs.