Quick – tell me something you know about Herbert Hoover. Um, me too – couldn’t come up with much. Not to worry. I’ll help you out with some info in case you get asked at your next cocktail party. Here’s what we learned at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum in West Bend IA, our last big stop on our way home.If you Google unpopular or worst President, Hoover’s name will be near the top, if not in the top spot. But, he had a pretty interesting road to the White House – he was orphaned at an early age, separated from his siblings, and raised by a variety of relatives. His Stanford degree in Mining Engineering took him to live in China and Australia, where he earned the rather astonishing (to me, anyway) salary of $10,000 in 1898. His rise in the political world came in 1914, when he was recruited to lead the effort to relieve famine in Belgium. Later, his popularity soared as Secretary of Commerce (he was often referred to as Secretary of Everything). In the 1928 election, he crushed his Democratic opponent Alfred E Smith (444/87 electoral votes).
Then came October 1929. Banks crashing, nearly 25% unemployment, widespread dispair. Hoover declined to provide direct assistance to families, relying instead on voluntary efforts, “A voluntary deed is infinitely more precious to our national ideas and spirit than a thousandfold poured from the Treasury.” He didn’t stand a chance in the 1932 election. Roosevelt trounced Hoover. (472/59 electoral votes) Back to private life. He briefly emerged in 1946 to assist Truman with global famine relief.
Fun facts? He was one of only two US Presidents to donate their salary. (Yep, Kennedy was the other). He abolished the White House stables, and mothballed the Presidential yacht upon entering office. He did propose a $50/month pension for all Americans over age 65, but that idea never went anywhere. Seems evident that he suffered from a lack of political clout, combined with the true passion to make things happen.
The Museum and surrounding area was interesting – I really liked the sculptures that are shown in the photos. There weren’t many folksy or fun things in the Museum, but I did enjoy this Life Mask, created in 1919.We’ve now visited all the Presidential Museums but four – Nixon (we went there this spring, but it was closed for renovation), Bush, Bush, and Carter. Hope to see the first three this winter on our westward advanture. No plans to visit Georgia in the near future, but the Carter Museum will be one of our first stops, for sure.
Our last couple of camping nights were spent in great sites, near water in quiet nearly-deserted campgrounds (Lake MacBride State Park IA, and Illini State Park, IL) A calm way to finish off a great vacation.A few last thoughts…Don’t forget to vote.