July 5, 2014

Hot Dogs and Cocktails

No, that wasn't my dinner menu for the Fourth of July, just my reading menu. :)

Did you see the movie Hyde Park on Hudson?  I couldn't wait to see it after I saw the trailer. Though it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, I've always enjoyed reading about the Roosevelts and British royalty {from Queen Victoria to these two}, and the movie told the appealing story of a  visit in June, 1939 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the Roosevelt family home in Hyde Park, New York. {And the less appealing story of FDR's womanizing..}

I found Hot Dogs and Cocktails:  when FDR met King George VI at Hyde Park on Hudson on the new book shelves at the library {by just browsing!  I've been leaving comments on blogs saying I never do that anymore :)} and found out later that Peter Conradi become interested in writing it after seeing the movie.  (I didn't recognize his name, but he was the co-author of The King's Speech, another book tied in with a movie.}

The visit to Hyde Park in June, 1939 came at the end of the King and Queen's six-week trip first across their dominion of Canada and back and then to Washington, DC and New York, and was the first visit by a British monarch to the United States 'since colonial times.' {Who came here in 'colonial times," I wonder?} {Both Edward VII (Bertie) and the Duke of Windsor made triumphant visits to New York when each was the Prince of Wales, the latter's visit being so successful that his father made sure he never had the opportunity to cross the pond again.}  They traveled on the Royal Blue, a special train, and were greeted at every turn by government officials, high society, the five-year-old Dionne quintuplets, and thousands of Canadians and Americans.

It was not until 8 p.m. that the King and Queen finally arrived at [Hyde Park]. 'The programme of the Royal Tour had got somewhat out of hand,' was how the King's official biographer put it. As the car stopped in front of the house, Roosevelt, his wife and his mother came out onto the porch to receive their guests. The greetings over, the royal couple went to their rooms, changed and appeared at the library. The King walked toward Roosevelt and the table with the cocktails that [FDR] had prepared earlier.
      'My mother does not approve of cocktails and thinks you should have a cup of tea,' Roosevelt told him.
      'Neither does my mother,' the King replied, taking a cocktail.
Not a deeply analytical book, but filled with details of how their iceberg-infested trip across the Atlantic, and how the press covered them, and funny incidents, and what the King and Queen wore; and how they met or challenged American perceptions  -- all of this made it very readable and easy to dip into during a rainy Fourth of July afternoon. {As it turns out, I have an amazing view of the Boston fireworks from my living room windows, and I didn't have to try get home in the storm that hit the minute they ended.} I can't resist saying that it whetted my appetite to read more about the Roosevelts and the Windsors.

The thing about the hot dogs is that, much to her mother-in-law's horror, Eleanor Roosevelt put hot dogs on the menu for the picnic lunch.  The press was obsessed with this burning question:  would the King and Queen eat them -- and with their fingers, instead of a knife and fork?


Lisa said...

I can't think that any British monarch visited North America in colonial times - surely none of them would have risked the really serious perils of sailing across the Atlantic then? I'm thinking this visit was the first ever for the Sovereign. It sounds like a fun book, I'll keep an eye on our new book bins :)

We also had a rainy fourth, and it's been pouring this afternoon, with some really violent thunderstorms.

JoAnn said...

This story is told during the official tour of Roosevelt's Hyde Park home, too!