In recent years, programme’s like Who Do You Think You Are have made us more familiar with the ancestry of famous people. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), the only US President to serve more than 8 years, has a fascinating background.
Most people would guess that Roosevelt originates from Holland. Less well known, is that Delano comes from his mother’s side. Philippe de Lannoy arrived in New England in 1621, when his name was quickly changed to Delano. Philippe’s grandfather came from Tourcoing, near Lille, then in Flanders. There is a rue Franklin Roosevelt in Tourcoing, but without the Delano because family research has only recently discovered the connection! One can visit FDR’s home at Hyde Park in New York and pose with the great man.
There is an interesting story that hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, the Secret Service found themselves in a bind. President Roosevelt was to give his Day of Infamy speech to Congress on 8 December, and agents were not sure how to transport him safely from the White House to Capitol Hill. Federal Law then prohibited buying any cars that cost more than $7500, and they didn’t have time to get clearance from Congress to do that.
One of the Secret Service members discovered that the US Treasury had seized the bulletproof car that mobster Al Capone owned when he was sent to jail in 1931. They cleaned it, made sure it was running fine and had it ready for the President the next day.
Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac 341a Town Sedan, was now the President’s Limo in 1941. Capone’s car had been painted black and green so as to look identical to Chicago’s police cars at the time. It had a specially installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grille, along with a police scanner radio.
To top it off, the gangster’s Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armour and inch-thick bulletproof windows! Mechanics worked on it well into the night to make sure that it would run properly the next day for the Commander in Chief. The car was sold at an auction price of $341,000 in 2012.