The day before his performance, Joe Weigand as “Theodore Roosevelt” performed regaling Rotarians with stories as Roosevelt from his childhood to the presidency.
The program began with “Roosevelt” talking about a recent trip to Los Angeles’ Theodore Roosevelt High School, home of the Rough Riders, where a student called him the “monopoly dude,” but as he pointed out, it would have been better to call him the “anti-monopoly dude.” Thus began the blend of humor and history that entertained Rotarians and is set to entertain those in attendance Wednesday night at the Grand Opera House of the South for Weigand’s performance.
“May I say here on the onset that if there is anything you find in my brief remarks that might be of some small entertainment or some small inspiration, may I say that my brief time with you today is dedicated to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces,” said “Roosevelt.”
“Roosevelt” began his history review with his two terms in office (1901-1909) and then his attempt to regain the presidency from William Taft in 1912.
“I returned to the United States and saw that Taft had made a mess,” said “Roosevelt.” “He had returned my Republican Party and our federal government back over to those special Wall Street interests. ... And I told the press early in 1912 that I was in the race as a bull moose and that my hat was in the race, the first time that phrase was used to declare a candidacy.”
“Roosevelt” also reviewed his childhood, turning to stories of how his asthma was treated (i.e. cigars and black coffee) and Bible studies with this father and siblings as he was “Christian home-schooled.” He also referred to his father telling him that he did not have the body, but had the mind, and had to get his body to catch up.
“It does appear that I may have overdone it just a bit,” said “Roosevelt.”
He also reviewed his southern roots and heritage that his Aunt Anna especially instilled in him and told him about. He concluded that it was “good to be back in the South.”
“Roosevelt” reminisced about his love of natural science growing up and then his time at Harvard where he quickly learned that his idea of natural science and the outdoors did not mesh with Harvard’s, and “Bible Point” in Maine where he helped heal from his father’s death from stomach cancer at the age of 45.
Harvard was also where Roosevelt met his first wife, Alice, and convinced her to marry him with his third marriage proposal.
He also discussed his time at Columbia Law where he found out that was not what he wanted to do and because he wanted to fight for the “righteous of justice,” he turned to politics, shocking his family.
During this early time, Roosevelt lost his wife, Alice, and his mother on the same day, and after naming his first daughter after his wife, he turned to the Dakota area and became a cattle rancher where he once again began to heal from the sadness.
He returned to New York, where he found love again with his former sweetheart, Edith, together they had five more children and were reunited with Alice, meaning there were six children in The White House during Roosevelt’s presidency.
Before he concluded his time with the Rotary Club of Crowley, Roosevelt told one more story, the story of the teddy bear’s origin, and to the thunderous applause of the club, he gifted the teddy bear that had traveled with him on the road to Rotarian Dr. Bo McNeely in honor of his birthday Friday.
Roosevelt’s stories do not conclude with the introduction of Edith, as he explained, and promised Rotarians that made the trip to the Grand Opera House of the South Wednesday, they would continue to hear great stories from his life.
“If you come to the theater tomorrow night at 7 o’clock, I will tell you lots of stories in The White House and more,” he said.