Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 1029

Out came the President, wheeling himself. He was a cripple, but he manipulated that wheelchair like a racing driver. The house at Hyde Park was all ramps so he didn't , have to go up and down steps. He'd wheel this thing up like a bat out of hell. He'd barrel up and down the ramps on this wheelchair of his, which, as I say, he manipulated superbly. When he came out, I can still remember my heart jumping at the President of the United States waving his hand! He said, “Hello, Bennett” to me. He knew my first name. I was ready then to have him roll over me, you know. We went in to lunch after a little while, and he had to be lifted out of his chair into his chair at the table, which was a shock. But the minute he was seated at that chair at the table, he was President Roosevelt. It was his legs that were bad. He could manipulate his hands perfectly, and he sat at the table and you forgot immediately that this man was a cripple. He was completely in charge and utterly and totally charming. When he wanted to be, he was irresistible.

He was telling anecdotes about books and his boyhood days. He had bought a lot of sets when he was a boy. He was, like I was, a sucker for a complete Conrad, a complete Kipling. He'd buy these things, and he couldn't pay for them. He'd hide them under the bed so his mother wouldn't see them, but she knew where he hid the books and she'd fish them out and make him send them back. He was a customer of all of the shops along Fifty-ninth Street before he was President. He had a great collection of naval books and later on he gave

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help