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The Spirit of Man Goeth Upward: A 2012 Sound Archives Fellowship Project

Research by Laura S. McKee, Berea Sound Archives Fellow, regrading how WW-II era radio and personal histories have shaped the development of "From the Diary of Eve", a narrative series of poems set in Southern Appalachia.

Audio - President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Louisville, 7-8-1938

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Louisville, 7-9-1938 (part 1)


President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Louisville, 7-9-1938 (part 2)

Roosevelt in Louisville: 7-8-38

This broadcast describes Roosevelt’s stop in Louisville on his 1938 transcontinental tour.  It begins with the radio broadcaster describing the setting and general mood in exacting detail. Roosevelt, leaning on his military aid, Colonel Edward M. Watson, delivers a speech addressing the cataclysmic events of the 1937 floods and outlines his plans for a coordinated federal agency to address natural disasters and to build an infrastructure for flood prevention (i.e. TVA).

This broadcast will coincide roughly with Eve and Patrick’s arrival at their Uncle Isaac’s­­ farm in Kentucky. This will be one of the first broadcasts Eve hears, and she will be particularly fascinated to hear the President speak from a nearby locale. In part this broadcast will affirm the intersection of her rural environment with a more urban and global one. She allows herself to daydream more than ever of living elsewhere. Direct quotations from Roosevelt’s speech as well as the newscaster’s descriptions will appear in a few poems from Chapter 2, as they do in the poem “Cathedral Radio, 1938” included below. Phrases directly quoted from the broadcast are marked with asterisks.



"Cathedral Radio, 1938"

An unsmashed window. It arrived
cumbersome and clear. My father stumbling under its weight:
the veins of his forehead like lightning as the house shook

from its last silence. Already, the scratched voices
in my ear: the auctioneering lilt of newscasters
driving up the bid on catastrophe, the taste of Avalon cigarettes,

of flood waters, and the President’s sweat with his
“public address apparatus”* and “two silver horns”*
stocking up a world of elsewhere. Even gospel songs

out-bellowed the rooster who no longer clocked
our hours. His monarchial comb limp while the radio’s static
crowned the henhouses. Dragging his wings, poor boy,

though they said I imagined it. A song stuck in his throat
as the dawn awoke with her rose-red talons, and I began
to sleep with my ear towards the sky.