Eleanor Roosevelt's Travel Cards

ER was a Skipper at the American Airlines Admirals Club, and was a loyal Sheraton guest.


Earlier today, I wrote about my visit to the FDR Presidential Library. The final portion of the museum focused on Eleanor Roosevelt's life after her husband's death. One exhibit included the contents of ER's wallet when she died. It seems she was a frequent traveler. "Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sr." was a member at the American Airlines Admirals Club. And she had a guest card for Sheraton Hotels, which also extended privileges to Avis Rent-A-Car.

NEXT: Constitutional Places: The FDR Presidential Library

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  1. Franklin had died 16 years ago, but she was still Mrs. F. D. Roosevelt!

    1. My grandmother was still Mrs. (husbands name) until she died, despite my grandfather dying ~2 decades earlier, and would have felt extremely disrespected if even her grandchildren had addressed a letter to her otherwise.

      1. Yes, that was the way it was in those days.

        1. Until the 1970s, a woman’s credit history was in her husband’s name.

  2. Did you try reading the card before you made the post?

    1. Yes, he did. He quoted it accurately.

      1. He did quote it accurately, insofar as he posted a picture of it which shows what it says. Which is how I know that it does not say what he claims it says in the text of the post.

        Did you try reading it before you posted this reply?

        1. Whoops! I thought you were replying to the name part of it. I did notice the Skipper part, as noted below. Apologies.

  3. Mrs. Roosevelt worked for American Airlines as one of the people passengers present their Admirals Club cards to?

    1. i caught that too.

      1. What’s interesting with that is how much American Airlines was still in the nautical tradition and nomenclature.

        What’s even more interesting is how glamorous flying must have been in that bygone era as an “Admiral’s Club” would be an Officer’s Club that was restricted to those whose rank was “Admiral.” (It probably would be run by someone with the far lower rank of O-2 or O-3 and largely staffed by NCOs.)

        What they were saying is that Elanor Roosevelt was to be treated as if *she* had the rank of Admiral — higher rank than the Captain of the airplane and everyone else. And as these were pre-printed cards, she clearly wasn’t the only one who had one.

        Even if per-passenger/mile safety was horrendous when compared to today, it must have been a truly gilded age of travel.

        1. As usual, your confidence is exceeded only by your ignorance. The Admirals Club is the name for the American Airlines lounge, chosen because the airline used “flagship” in its promotional materials. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a “nautical tradition”, much less actual admirals.

  4. Did she sell her paintings for $500,000 (in 2021 money)?

  5. What is interesting is that here the First Lady went back to being just another American citizen after FDR’s death. Today the President and First Lady are still even after their terms protected and are somewhat isolated because of that protection. The cards reminds me of the story of President Eisenhower learning to drive a car after he left the Presidency. Would any modern President ever drive himself again?

    1. I hadn’t heard that story before, but it seems implausible that he rose to the ranks of 4-star General without knowing how to drive. Not impossible, but seems odd IMO. I’ll have to look this up.

      1. Actually quite realistic because he graduated from West Point in 1915 when most states didn’t yet require driver’s licenses — and when they initially did, it involved having another licensed driver state that you knew how to drive. (When my grandmother got her license, it was that the driver had observed you drive 100 miles on a state highway.)

        Hence he didn’t have a state driver’s license which he was continually renewing or (as is the case in some states) was valid until six months after he left the US Army. Nor would he bother with one while President.

        And (unlike today) in the 1950s, states required you to pass a road test even if you already had a license from another state. Hence he had to not only “know how to drive” but pass a Pennsylvania road test.

        Roads were different, rules of the road had been created, and vehicles were also different. He had to learn how to shift gears — the Model T Ford didn’t *have* gears. (It had a transmission similar to a riding lawn mower, with steel bands which gripped a spinning flywheel.)

      2. Story is that as a general Eisenhower was always assigned a driver and as President he was always driven. His grandchildren tell the story of him taking up driving after the Presidency. They were often sent along with their grandfather and speak of the experience as passengers as harrowing.

    2. Eisenhower was the first POTUS to come under the “Former President’s Act” and hence the first to have USSS protection after leaving office.

      The rules were different then — I’m told that Bush ’43 liked going down to his ranch in Texas because it was the only place where he was *allowed* to drive…

  6. I hadn’t realized that cheesy airline “club member” promotions went that far back.

    1. The transatlantic ocean liners had “First Class” and I suspect that it also included boarding facilities.

      Remember that in the 1950s, the airliners were still “puddle jumping” — they not only were half the speed of airplanes today but had to make several refueling stops to cross the Atlantic. Hence they were still competing with the steamships that also were still “crossing the pond.”

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