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Distinguished Speaker Karen Chase to Present ‘FDR on His Houseboat – The Larooco Log, 1924-1926’ at the Custom House Museum

On Thursday, November 17, from 6:00pm-7:00pm, Key West Art & Historical Society welcomes the public to the Helmerich Research & Learning Center on the third floor of the Custom House Museum for a presentation by Distinguished Speaker Series guest Karen Chase, author of ‘FDR on His Houseboat – The Larooco Log, 1924-1926.’

In 1921, more than a decade before he was to become President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt suffered partial paralysis and lost the use of his legs. In 1923, believing that warm air and water would aid his rehabilitation, he and friend John Lawrence purchased a second-hand 71’ houseboat, christening it the ‘Larooco,’ and from 1924-26, Roosevelt spent winter months on the vessel, cruising the Florida Keys, fishing, swimming, enjoying the company of friends and keeping a daily log of his activities, adventures and observations.

A few years ago, Chase discovered Roosevelt’s ‘Larooco’ log in a collection of FDR correspondence and determined that she ‘had to share this little known record from one of the least-understood periods of FDR’s life.’ In ‘FDR on His Houseboat – The Larooco Log, 1924-1926,’ Roosevelt’s log entries of engine maintenance, martini’s, games of Parcheesi with friends – and of personal struggle – are intermixed with photographs from the tumultuous larger world of the times, from glittering Jazz Age revelry to the rise of some of the world’s most notorious criminals.

Copies of ‘FDR on His Houseboat – The Larooco Log, 1924-1926,’ will be available for purchase at the Distinguished Speaker Series event. Chase is also author of Polio Boulevard: A Memoir; Land of Stone: Breaking Silence through Poetry; as well as three volumes of poetry, Kazimierz Square, BEAR, and Jamali-Kamali: A Tale of Passion in Mughal India.

Tickets are available at through KWAHS.ORG/LEARN; $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers.  For more information contact Adele Williams, Director of Education, at 305-295-6616, x115. Sponsored by the Helmerich Trust, Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel. Photo contributed. Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.


FDR (center) and two companions pose for a snapshot in shallow waters off the Florida coast during a February 1926 Larooco cruise.

(Photo Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)