Monday, September 1, 2008


About an hour southwest of Atlanta lies the village of Warm Springs. Franklin Roosevelt came to this gentle place in 1924 seeking a "cure" for the effects of polio.

FDR's arrival changed everything for this small town and for America and for polios as well. But as much as I want to go off on a history tangent here, I will refrain!

If you've read BLUE you know that Ann Fay Honeycutt dreamed of going to Warm Springs where FDR had transformed a resort into a treatment facility for polios. She hoped to catch a glimpse of the president while there.

Some things that could not happen in BLUE just had to wait for the sequel. In COMFORT (Spring '09) Ann Fay does spend time at Warm Springs where she receives therapy in the same warm mineral waters that FDR swam in!

I could have written the sequel without getting into that water. I did, actually. And I think the manuscript is about to go to the copyeditor which means it's too late for significant changes. But it is never too late for research. And I never get tired of going to Warm Springs, GA.

So, when I heard that the historic pools (which are usually empty nowadays) would be filled and open to the public over Labor Day, I decided a research trip was in order.

I wanted to feel what my character felt. Maybe I'd even tweak a sentence or two as a result! So I rented a car, booked a motel, nabbed a friend, and off we went.

Nancy, my intrepid navigator, is one fun person and very patient one too. She enjoyed dipping into history as much as I did and made friends with everyone we talked to.

I could not wait to get in these pools! And yes, I jumped the gun! But David Burke (see way below) forgave me even before he realized I was doing research on a subject we both love.

Nancy is having fun in the water. By the way, Maron Dunn (below right) told me that fun-loving Franklin Roosevelt dunked him a few times in the middle treatment pool just as he'd swim through the narrow passage that Nancy is in!

Marion(a WWII veteran)worked at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation as a pushboy and a bracemaker which meant he helped polios get to the pool and other places on campus and he also made braces and various medical "contraptions" that enabled them to walk, eat, pick things up, etc.

And who is that with me and Marion? Why it's Franklin Delano Roosevelt!

Actually it's Bob Prater, but do you see the resemblance? Bob is President of Friends of Roosevelt's Little White House (a chapter of the Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites) He does historical interpretations of FDR at the Little White House and other venues. (I can't wait to see his presentation sometime!)

Most of the people in these photos I'd met before or interviewed by phone but Bob was an unexpected benefit of this trip. What a personable man who felt like an instant friend - another resemblance to FDR!(or so I've read.)

And then there was the Doyle family. Nancy and I were chatting with Stephanie Doyle while playing around in the pool.

Stephanie, her brother-in-law David Dykes (floating), and sister-in-law, Emily Dykes
Stephanie told us her father-in-law's grandfather was a friend of FDR and sold him property for a farm in the Warm Springs area. So I climbed out of the pool and introduced myself to the Doyles.

The Doyle family - (L to R) Patrick, Stephanie, Buddy, Anne, and Emily & David Dykes.

In addition to the FDR connection, Anne's parents were polios who met when they came to Warm Springs for treatment. So coming back for a swim was a momentous way to honor their family history. What a fun family they are! I have a feeling that meeting them earned me some new Warm Springs experts.

And, speaking of experts, I should have realized there was a good chance of meeting David Burke because he works at the Little White House. I'd spoken with him over the phone months ago and he put me in touch with Marion Dunn. So I was thrilled when I realized he was the tour guide who gave the history of the pools before we swam.

David is a warm and wonderful human being!

David compiled and edited an Images of America book about Warm Springs. I can't tell you how often I have consulted those fantastic images while writing my Blue sequel! Buddy's grandfather Ed Doyle is pictured on page 57 of David's Book.

While I'm on the subject of experts, no trip to Warm Springs would be complete without visiting Suzanne Pike.

Suzie is history itself, in that she met FDR when she was four years old and still works as a ranger/tour guide at the historic pools and Little White House. I've enjoyed numerous conversations with her - discussing furniture, food, movie stars, a certain place called Magic Hill and much more.
Suzanne is a real character. I promise you'll be hearing more about her!

By they way, I DID get into the pools. I'm sure I didn't feel exactly what Ann Fay Honeycutt felt but I suspect that, as a result of my long luxurious swim, I WILL be tweaking a sentence or two!
Research is soooo much fun!


  1. If you hadn't put a picture of yourself in the pool I would have been disappointed; you saved the best for last, right?
    Great blog! Now I have to learn to write snippets and intersperse them with photos. I understand how this took all morning...glad to hear your voice on the listserve today. carol

  2. Well, I don't know about the best for last but I thought I should prove I was in!

    Perfectionism is time consuming. Have you noticed there is a compose mode and an html mode for creating the post? Compose mode enables changes in text size and color etc.

    I'm learning to go back and forth btween the two. It might help with the pictures issues.

  3. What an interesting post. That must have been a very fulfilling trip. Sounds like you had lots of connections with polio related history. NEATO! I am sure you are glad you made the effort to go and take it all in. I loved all the pics.
    Glad Nancy went along. She IS fun to be with AND patient. I know she enjoyed the experience.

  4. Nancy was the perfect companion for me. She has such a way about her! She did have a good time.

  5. It certainly was good to have you visit with us in Warm Springs. Thanks for the kind words and wonderful "Chamber of Commerce" spot. David, Marion, Suzie and I are always glad to help people learn more about our community and its legacies. We look forward to seeing your new book. Come back soon.--FDR(aka Bob)