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By Bill Gunston

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65 But Patterson knew that no one would stand for the president of the United States to be buried in a container made of something called Permalith. Hassett had told him about a copper-lined mahogany casket that Roosevelt had picked out for his mother’s funeral four years earlier and suggested that a similar model might be appropriate. Patterson had just purchased a mahogany coffin that was the right size, but of course it had no copper. Then he remembered: He did have a National Seamless Copper Deposit model—solid copper, bronze finish, and an interior lined in 14 FDR’s FUNERAL TRAIN velvet.

C. At 7:00, a switcher pulled the train—now eleven cars long—down onto Track 10 at the far western end of Terminal Station. With a slow and rhythmic exhalation of steam that some might call beautiful, engines No. 1262 and No. 1337 backed slowly down the track until the couplers locked in a rusty handshake. POTUS was ready. As the daylight faded, the world of tracks and platforms that fanned out beneath the massive terminal turned to an eerie realm of deserted stairways and soot-covered signs. With time to wait until the running orders came through, the engine crews wandered down the track until they were out in the open, beneath the night sky, and sat down on the rails.

Now, at Eleanor Roosevelt’s behest, the hearse detoured into the circular drive,11 pausing before the hall’s white columns where scores of children, confined to wheelchairs and locked into leg braces, stared. One of them was Jay Fribourg, who could only clench his teeth to keep from sobbing as a reporter approached. “I loved him so much,” Fribourg said. , but it was one minute past when the cars drew up at the station. The ramp that Douglas Shipp and his men had finished just hours before was a perfect hypotenuse of pine planks connecting the Conneaut’s sill with the ground.

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