30,000 people turned out on the day President Roosevelt visited Birmingham

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Roosevelt Visits Birmingham in 1933

submitted by

Jean Butterworth

Harold and Helen Fisher of Hoover are friends of mine. Harold found a clipping from the Birmingham News printed in 1933 that his father, Harold I. Fisher wrote when he was an editor at the Birmingham News. I read and found very interesting. Below is a copy of the clipping.

President Roosevelt in Birmingham, Alabama

30,000 Crowd Gives Roosevelt Welcome

By Harold I. Fisher

To the blaring notes of “Happy Days Are Here Again” Franklin D. Roosevelt, next president of the United states was welcomed to Birmingham by a cheering throng of 30,000 receiving a large gift of flowers and an iron medallion of himself, spoke briefly of his pleasure at being in Alabama and departed waving his hand, his face wreathed in his pleasant smile while the band again struck up his campaign song and the crowd shouted.

The wild acclaim of the massed thousands below the elevated tracks rung out at the instant the president- elect stepped to the rear platform of the train reechoed when he expressed the determination to put the Muscle Shoals plants at work and again sounded when he expressed the hope the the song, “Happy Days Are Here Again” will come true.

The rear platform of the special train abreast of the battery of loud speakers with Senators Black and Bankhead, Congressman Hill and other dignitaries grouped about the rail. As the car stopped rolling, the president-elect appeared on the platform to be greeted by an outburst of applause. Waving his hand for a moment, Mr. Roosevelt then turned to the door of the car and drew out his daughter, Mrs. Curtis Dall.

She smiled at the crowd and at the insistence of her father waved her hand.

Commission President Jones then stepped to the microphone that had been hoisted to the platform and in a few words welcomed the distinguished visitor to the city.. He also introduced W.C. Fitts, Sr. who presented Mr. Roosevelt. Smiling President-elect Roosevelt stepped to the microphone.

“My friends, I am extremely glad to be welcomed to your great city. I had a wonderful day in the Northern Alabama seeing that great plant built by the United States government but which is now idle.”

“I want to place that great plant at work again.”

“You know I feel that you people of Alabama are neighbors of mine. From the top of the mountain behind my home at Warm Springs, Ga., I can look over into Alabama.”

“I hope I can come back to Birmingham some day for a longer visit with you. It is a great welcome you have given me.”

“May I express the hope that the song your band has just played, ‘Happy Days Are Here Again,’ will come true.”

Mr. Roosevelt stepped back from the microphone and started chatting with Mr. Fitts about several mutual friends in the North. Meanwhile Sam F. Clabaugh, president of the Chamber of Commerce mounted the platform and presented the president-elect with a bronze medallion the likeness of the great New Yorker, as the gift from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Roosevelt thanked him for the gift and resumed talking with others on the platform.

W. Cooper Green, arrangement chairman went to the platform and Mr. Roosevelt extended his hand in greeting.

Much of the credit for the smoothness of the Roosevelt appearance in Birmingham Saturday is due to the efficient arrangements worked out by Congressman Lister Hill, of Montgomery. Mr. Hill was personally on the job during the pause of the presidential party at the L. and N. Station, and it was directly a result of his insistence that train was shifted to a position where the throngs could greet the next president.

In addition he mapped out arrangements in advance for other details in the Roosevelt visit in Alabama working in close cooperation with all arrangement committees.

George McLaurine, crippled boy ,of 1500 South Thirteenth Place was brought to the rear of the train and presented a letter he recently received from Mr. Roosevelt asking to meet him on his visit here.

Mr. Fitts reached down over the railing and took the letter calling attention of the president-elect to the boy. Mr. Roosevelt spoke warmly to young McLaurine, inviting him to visit Warm Springs and expressing his hope he would recover from his affliction.

A few more moments of chatting with friends on the platform and the train slowly began moving away. A cheer broke out from the crowd and Mr. Roosevelt again exhibited his wide smile, waved his hand cordially and ended his visit to the tune to which it was started, “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Britling cafeteria birmingham

At the bottom of the clipping there was an ad from The Britling Cafeteria which advertised:

Half Price Monday

For Lunch Fried Mackerel….. 8 Cents

For Supper Roast Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes…. 12 cents

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama

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  1. if only Birmingham had taken his message to heart and not taken over by liberal crooks!

  2. it would have been great to know when in 1933 this happened

  3. My father loved FDR would talk about FDR with and enduring tone. About working the WPA as a teenager, then the government would send that money to his mother to use for the family. Opelika, Al

  4. From my book, UNIQUELY ST CLAIR (available from me): President Roosevelt Visits Springville

    Once upon a time, in a kinder, gentler world remembered only by our most elderly, it was customary for the President of the United States to travel cross-country by train, greeting thousands of eager citizens in person without benefit of bulletproof glass and an army of guards. Such an event happened in Springville, in Spring of 1936.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd President, was headed southward toward Winter Park, FL, to receive an honorary Doctorate of Literature from Rollins College. The world was still at peace in those days, albeit a shaky one with some very dark clouds on the horizon. His train consisted of three special cars, the hindmost with an 8×8′ platform on the back.
    Some Springville folks got word of this trip, and mustered Miss Burroughs’ fifth grade class at Springville School to walk to the town depot to watch FDR pass through. For some reason, no other classes were notified; indeed, only a small crowd of townsfolk gathered for this event. There weren’t even any policemen standing by. Contrast this scenario with today’s version, and the difference in our times becomes glaringly apparent.
    Right on schedule, Roosevelt’s train rolled slowly through Springville, moving at about six miles per hour so their President could wave and exchange a few quick, shouted words with those who had elected him. Springville’s Howard Martin, age 12, remarked, “I could easily have run beside the train it was going so slow.”
    Wearing a gray suit and black felt hat, Mr. Roosevelt stood beside two other men, his hand resting on a guardrail. As was his custom, he spoke jovially with people at trackside, none of whom had any idea of his real physical condition.
    In fact, almost no one in the United States knew Franklin D. Roosevelt was crippled by polio and could not stand without braces and occasional support from those two aides at his side. And this was the President of the United States! There was actually no need for anyone to know. As mentioned earlier, these were different times and different people.

  5. Yep! He drove through the Valley , AL too and Mama waved !!

  6. Back when America had a real president who actually cared.

  7. This photo was made in Warm Springs,GA. Notice sign on depot
    You can see GS . BEEN THERE MANY TIMES.

  8. My Mother could remember seeing FDR speaking from the back of a train in Jasper.

    1. I did meet a lady about ten years ago at Warm Springs, GA. She was a ten year old polio patient and knew Mr. Roosevelt. She was really old when I spoke to her so I’m sure she’s passed on since then. She was full of good stories about Mr. Roosevelt. He apparently loved all the kids and had an engaging personality. She also remembered when he died, the kids were planning a talent show that night for Mr. Roosevelt. I was thrilled to meet someone who knew him personally.

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