By the generations that survived the Great Depression, President Herbert Clark Hoover is often viewed unfavorably. Many hold him responsible for the events that led to (or that didn't prevent) the stock market crash, and he's disliked even more for the fact that his programs didn't offer economic relief to the country in the early 30's. The dislike even went as far as calling the poorest shanty towns "Hoovervilles" and throwing rotten food at the president during his 1932 re-election campaign.
However, another Hooverville exists in West Branch, Iowa - a town that accepts the term as extremely complimentary. The citizens of West Branch see President Hoover as a fine native son of their community and are proud of his policies based in volunteerism and local community action. That town is the location of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.
On our trip back home, we were able to make a quick stop in West Branch to visit the grounds of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. While there, one may learn about the lives of President Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover.
Also situated on the grounds is President Hoover's birthplace: a small two room cottage. Born on August 10, 1874, Hoover was orphaned by age 9 after the early death of his father in 1880 and his mother in 1883. At that time, he moved to Oregon to live with his uncle.
Behind the library, in a pretty park, I ran up the path to the gravesite of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover. 31 years after leaving office, President Hoover passed away in New York City on October 20, 1964 at the age of 90, and he was given a full state funeral. (It was the third state funeral in one year's time as it was directly after the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Douglas MacArthur.)
Born into a Quaker family, Hoover's beliefs directed his social, economic, and political efforts in directions that were quite contrary to those of his contemporaries. Here is a picture of the historical Quaker (or Friends) Meeting House that is located on the site. A distinguishable feature of the older structures used by Quakers is the presence of two doors: one for use by the men and one for use by the women. In fact, many of the older meeting houses include a partition which is pulled down from the ceiling or pulled across from one side so that the men and women may hold separate business meetings.
I've now been to the presidential libraries for Abraham Lincoln and Herbert Hoover (probably the two closest to us), and I hope to see many more. Have you been to any presidential libraries? Do you remember your favorite part or the most fascinating piece of information that you learned while there?