In the midst of the Jazz Age, while Americans were making merry, Franklin Delano Roosevelt withdrew from public life and sought treatment after treatment to reverse the crippling effects of polio that struck him in 1921. Believing that warm water and fresh air would help him walk again, he bought a houseboat and spent the winter months in The Florida Keys fishing, swimming, playing Parcheesi, and entertaining his numerous guests.
Aboard the Larooco, FDR kept a nautical log of the day’s events, guests, and rare visits by his wife Eleanor who disliked the carefree atmosphere of the houseboat. Missy LeHand, his personal assistant, served as hostess aboard the boat. This daily nautical log was unknown to the public until author and poet Karen Chase stumbled upon it while doing research for her memoir, Polio Boulevard, about her own experiences with polio.
Chase lives in western Massachusetts and is the author of two collections of poems, “Kazimierz Square” and “BEAR,” as well as “Jamali-Kamali,” a book-length homoerotic poem that takes place in Mughal, India. Her award-winning book “Land of Stone” tells the story of her work with a silent young man in a psychiatric hospital where she was the hospital poet. Her memoir, “Polio Boulevard,” was published in 2014.