You're Close to Me
Franklin Roosevelt and Jimmy Byrnes together sang a love song. Each man was proud of his voice, and each enjoyed singing sentimental ballads in the company of friends. Roosevelt was a full baritone, with all the subtle modulations of his patrician upbringing ; Byrnes was an Irish tenor, and sang with a noticeable southern accent. At the time of their duet, the two men were at the height of their political powers, and they had known each other for more than thirty years. The song Roosevelt and Byrnes chose to sing together was a mutual favorite entitled "When I Grow Too Old to Dream, I'll Have You to Remember."
The occasion was the birthday party for Jimmy Byrnes held at the White House the evening of May 2, 1943. President Roosevelt was the party's host, and as his guests arrived outside the Oval Office, their gathering quickly became a lighthearted ending to a day of national crisis. That morning, a Sunday, Byrnes had gone to work in his office at the East Wing not knowing if by nightfall the United States would have enough coal supplies to continue fighting the world war. For weeks, wildcat strikes in coal mines across the country had threatened to shut down the nation's war industries, and shipments of military supplies to American forces over