Eleanor Roosevelt portrayed in Iola
By Jane Myhra
The era of FDR, the Great Depression, the New Deal and World War II came alive during a presentation by Jessica Michna on Aug. 8, at the Iola Mills.
During her visit, Michna portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt, complete with arriving in a 1930s vehicle.
In character, she walked into the Iola Mills and immediately began shaking hands with people.
“A good campaigner never quits,” she said.
Michna explained how Eleanor grew up in the Roosevelt family and was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. After her parents died, she was raised by relatives and at age 15, was sent to boarding school in England.
She returned home at age 18, where she eventually met and married a distant cousin, Franklin, in 1905. They had one daughter and five sons, one of whom died as an infant.
Eleanor was the longest serving First Lady throughout her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office (1933-1945).
When Franklin was stricken with poliomyelitis in 1921, she tended him. She became his eyes and his ears and his political adviser.
“Franklin had lost the use of his legs, but he taught a crippled country how to walk again,” said Michna, as “Eleanor.”
During World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to the war-torn regions of the world.
“I have walked through the devastated streets of London, visited hospitals in Australia and New Guinea,” she said. “I was what they needed. I was a bit of home.”
“That war would take such a toll on America,” she said. “We would never be the same. We had lost our innocence.”
Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat and activist who later served as a United Nations spokeswoman.
She broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day.”
“Eleanor Roosevelt was a very great voice for those who did not have a voice,” Michna said after the presentation.