The Poconos, Flea Markets and Hyde Park
November 15, 2010
Richard J. Garfunkel
The economy is alive and well just west of the Delaware River. All one has to do is to head west from the George Washington Bridge to Route 80 and keep on driving until one reaches the Delaware Water Gap. Once over the bridge, Jersey becomes Pennsylvania and one enters the edge of Middle America. There are a string of towns along the Delaware River named Bushkill, Stroudsburg, Marshall’s Creek, and Tannersville. These communities straddle roads like 209 and 611 and the backups at the intersections make traffic jams anywhere in the Big Apple passé.
We were last there about a month earlier in 2009, and we stayed in the same time-sharing facility, called the Villas at Fairway. Our villa was so large that a whole family of boat people could live there and never meet each other for days. It has fireplaces all over and a sauna and whirlpool in our bathroom! So it was quite pleasant. We stopped in a place galled Odd-Lot Outlet in Marshall’s Creek on our way from Route 80 to Bushkill. We picked up all sorts of ephemera goodies from stationary, to notebooks, to picture albums. All in all, with 20% discount coupons, one could not go wrong buying items from 75 cents to three dollars. By the way, one of the big “cash cows” for the retailers, right over the border from New Jersey, is fireworks, and all sorts of these dangerous toys can be purchased quite easily. After finally reaching our destination, we unpacked, relaxed and went out to an “early bird” dinner at the Big A Grillehouse. After our meal, we headed back to an evening of Bond-A-Thon movies, Turner Classics and needed relaxation.
The next day we headed out after breakfast to the massive Pocono Bazaar Flea Market, right on 209 in Marshall’s Creek. We found great bargains on gloves, sox, apples, tomatoes and all sorts of other trinkets which included Sinatra CD’s at $3 a throw. By the time we left at 10:50 am, our space had a line of suitors awaiting our departure. The lot was jammed, and we headed south to Route 80 and Stroudsburg, where we found the Olde Engine Works Market on North 3rd Street. Again we found some reasonable books and other collectibles. Once we satiated our interests, we headed back to the Villa for lunch. After our meal, we then made our way north, a mile or two, to the Bushkill Falls, which cuts through the hills and valleys of the upper Poconos. It’s a fun walk up and down the steep wooden steps flanked by critical handrails. The weather was wonderful and the park was alive with visitors from all over. We met some young people from Brooklyn with their two cute little girls, one who was named Eleanor. After our long climbs and some picture-taking, we departed the “Falls” and still had some energy to head down to the Indian Museum just south of the Fairway Villas. It was a full day, capped off by a wonderful dinner of lasagna and a filet sole stuffed with crab meat at Petrizzo’s Italian Restaurant.
After dinner it was once again back to our Villa and while keeping one eye on television, I enjoyed reading a fascinating biography of the star-crossed operatic diva, Maria Callas. What a saga, her story relates, from her birth in NYC to her being trapped in Italy during the war, to her struggles with her weight, self-doubt, desire for success at the Met and La Scala and her disastrous love affair with Aristotle Onassis. Along with that tempestuous story, I was also re-reading the late Grace Tully’s memoir, FDR, My Boss. On Sunday, we had to plan our morning carefully, because we wanted to be at a reception in Hyde Park, NY at the Roosevelt Library at 2:00 pm. So after breakfast, since we wanted to do more shopping, we headed out to Tannersville, which is about 15 miles west on Route 80. We wanted to stop at the Peddler’s Village and the Crossing Factory Outlet Mall. Peddler’s Village is a series of buildings that has hundreds of consignment booths of collectibles. Last year, I was able to get some interesting books at a deep discount. This year I wasn’t disappointed. I found and interesting book, Battlefields, Then and Now, which compared views of these fields of conflict, in their original setting, to the contemporary changes in the topography and landscape. The book included, Alexander the Great’s victory at Gaugema in 331 BCE, Julius Caesar’s triumph at Alesia in 52 BCE and others through Waterloo, Gettysburg, Rorkes’ Drift in Zululand to Normandy and Khe Sanh. Among the other books was We Few, about the 400 Marine officers who were hurriedly graduated in 1944 from Camp Le Jeune, because of the desperate need for junior officers in the Pacific, and were thrust into the fighting on Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Linda also found some bargains, and we hurried over to the Outlet Mall, whose parking lot was already bursting with cars, and looked for a Harry & David’s, who offers a wonderful jar of artichokes with merlot. It’s just great on anything! We were really short on time, so we sped back to Bushkill, changed for the reception, finished packing and got on the road. to Hyde Park.
We had originally planned to stay the whole day in the Poconos, but a few weeks ago, long after our plans had been formulated, we were invited to a reception regarding the official opening of the “Tully Papers” at the Hyde Park home of our late, great President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The late president’s last private secretary, Grace Tully, who was born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1900, and had never married, died in 1984. All of her papers, which included personal notes from FDR, among other ephemera and collectibles, went to her family. Ms. Tully worked for FDR from 1928 to his untimely death on April 12, 1945. She had originally worked for Bishop, and later, Cardinal Hayes in New York City, for ten years, was a bit bored with her work. After leaving the Diocese and a stint working in the presidential campaign of 1928, she was offered a job as an assistant to FDR’s long-time personal and private secretary, Marguerite “Missy” LeHand. Missy, who was one of FDR’s closest confidantes, was born in Potsdam, NY and raised in Somerville, Ma. At the tender age of 22, she had held a number of jobs before she worked for the Democratic National Committee in 1920. After FDR’s defeat as James Cox’s Vice-Presidential running mate in the 1920 election, they were both out of jobs, and FDR hired her as a secretary. She started working for him before he was struck down by polio in 1921 and stayed with him for 21 years until she suffered a debilitating stroke at the age of 43. Many attributed her stroke to the pressure of her ceaseless and devoted work and devotion to the President. With her death three years later, an important member of FDR’s original team was now gone. Both Missy and Lois Howe, who were FDR’s closest confidantes were now gone. His relationship with her will never be fully gauged, but for sure he depended on her wise judgment and counsel. Missy had many, many admirers over the years and the famed NY Times columnist Arthur Krock praised her in his eulogy as an incredibly important influence to both FDR’s life, family and the workings of his administration. Over the years, Grace Tully and Missy had become very close, and they were an integral part of the President’s small, but intensely loyal circle of friends, confidantes and advisors. Grace and Missy were like sisters and when Missy became ill, Grace moved up to the number one position as FDR’s top secretary. In fact, from 1928 on, she performed the dictation and typing chores that Missy shunned. Like Missy, Grace and FDR’s other close aides, often dined with the Roosevelt family, attended social events at the White House and traveled on all of the campaign trips to Hyde Park, Warm Springs and the national conventions. She was present at the Warm Springs “Little White House” cottage, with his cousins Margaret “Daisy” Suckley and Laura “Aunt Polly” Delano, among others, on the day he was stricken. A few days later, after the White House funeral service, Grace, wrote, “I went home for dinner and found my young niece, Alice Lee Sinton in a state of near collapse. She wanted to remain with me while I unpacked and repacked for the trip to Hyde Park, and she wept the entire time. Between sobs she exclaimed, ‘What are we going to do Gracie? I’ve never known any other President.’ Here was a girl in her early twenties who could remember no President but Roosevelt. I found it hard to realize at the moment, but I have since heard scores of young people of her generation repeat her identical words, and with the same feeling of hopelessness about the future.” On that Sunday morning in the Rose garden, just where FDR had planned to be laid to rest, Grace concluded her book by writing, “…Franklin Roosevelt was buried in the rose garden, close to the Big House, high above the Hudson.”
After Missy’s death, Grace Tully had inherited all of her personal White House papers and memorabilia, and it was these papers and her own that went into her estate. In 1980, the then Director of the Roosevelt Library, Mr. William Emerson asked Ms. Tully if she would give the personal letters she had to the Library. She refused, but said that after her death the Library would then have them. In 1984, Grace Tully died at age 84, but the family refused to release the letters. No one had any idea that the estate contained over 5000 pieces. From then to 2000, there was no mention of the papers until Cynthia Koch, the current Director, noticed that some of the “pieces” were listed in an auction catalogue. Eventually the whole lot, which included other presidential material and letters from Missy LeHand’s estate along with 39 personal letters from Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, FDR’s friend and distant cousin, were bought by Conrad Black for $8 million. In the ensuing years, Lord Black, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and had to give up his Canadian citizenship, wrote an outstanding and encyclopedic history of President Roosevelt entitled, FDR, Champion of Freedom. He quickly got into a financial snit with the IRS, his company Hollinger International, and creditors. He was indicted and convicted in Illinois U.S. District Court on July 13, 2007, for diverting funds, along with other irregularities, to his personal benefit from money due Hollinger International when the company sold certain publishing assets. For example, in 2000, in an illegal and surreptitious arrangement that came to be known as the “Lerner Exchange,” Black acquired Chicago's Lerner Newspapers and sold it to Hollinger He also obstructed justice by taking possession of documents to which he was not entitled. He was sentenced to serve 78 months in federal prison, to pay Hollinger $6.1 million, in addition to pay a fine to the government of $125,000. After his early release from prison, this year, pending the re-opening of his case on appeal, the Internal Revenue Service initiated a legal proceeding in the United States Tax Court against him for $71 million in back taxes which it claims is owed on $120 million in unreported income between 1998 and 2003. Black is challenging the claim, arguing that he is not subject to US taxing authority claiming that he was, “neither a citizen nor a resident of the United States” and was not obliged to pay taxes in the U.S.Recently, on October 28, 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit overturned two of the three remaining mail fraud counts. It left Black convicted of one count of mail fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice. The court also ruled that he must be resentenced. There seems to be more troubles ahead for Lord Black.
After the adjudication of the criminal proceedings against Black for using corporate funds to buy the collection (among with his other indiscretions) and his conviction and imprisonment, the ownership of the “Tully Papers” went into litigation. Eventually, the Sun-Times Media Group, the successor to Hollinger International, put the whole 5000 piece collection of letters, memorabilia and presidential “chits” (or notes) up for auction at Christies. Since it was deemed that many of the papers were of presidential material and that under FDR’s presidential directive, before his death, he had stated that they should go to the Library the sale was halted by the National Archives in 2005. Negotiations immediately began for the Library to gain possession of the documents. In actuality, the documents were stored, under court order for safe keeping, in sealed boxes, at the Roosevelt Library and Museum since 2005. Despite all the problems that proceeded throughout the long negotiations, including the bankruptcy of the Sun-Times, a special Congressional Bill, SB 692, was sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Louis Slaughter (D-NY) and signed by President Obama, which facilitated the donation of the “Tully Archive” in its entirety. The law provided for the waiver of the government’s claims to the papers, provided that the owner made a gift of the entire collection to the National Archives and Records Administration. With all that in mind, these papers are now permanently part of the FDR Library.
After the program and the wine, cheese and other culinary goodies, we were all able to meet the archivist and look directly at a number of the documents. About two dozen of them were scattered on a table and for the first time in many decades these papers were made available for public view. They were all in remarkably good shape. Seeing a 75 year old note from FDR to Grace Tully regarding Harry Hopkins and the President’s recommendation on spending $150 million was quite unique. In fact, today all of the papers will be open to the general public at Hyde Park. It was a busy and exciting weekend trip which started at the Bronxville Metro North train station and wound its way through the rolling Poconos, along the bluffs above the mighty Hudson River and back down the Taconic Parkway (which FDR had a major part in creating) to Westchester and our home in Tarrytown.