The Rough Writer

News for and about the Volunteers at Sagamore Hill
Volume 22, Issue 03
March 2020
The Rough Writer is a volunteer newsletter, not an official National Park Service publication. It should not be used for historic research. 

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“The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency." - Theodore Roosevelt

Staff News
It's a Boy!

Laura and Frank Cinturati have a baby! Frank III was born on February 15, 2020 at 5:50 pm. Little Frank weighed 6 lbs, 11 oz and was 20-1/4 inches long! Baby and Mom (and Dad) are doing well. Congratulations to the Cinturati family from all of us.  
A New Posting for Betsy DeMaria
by Nancy Hall
Many volunteers have gotten used to calling or emailing Betsy DeMaria when we need a fact or additional detail about TR or the TRH or when we get questions from visitors we cannot answer and seek answers from her office. And when she is not at her desk answering our questions or researching information on our collections, she can most likely be found working in the basement office of the TRH or pouring over files in boxes of original documents archived in Old Orchard. Betsy has cataloged and organized this treasure trove of Roosevelt family papers over the past eight years.  

As a museum technician, she not only works with rare documents housed on-site, but along with Curator, Susan Sarna, Lana Dubin, and Laura Cinturati, Betsy has also designed and installed major exhibits in Old Orchard, including the recent TR exhibits and the centennial exhibit honoring Quentin Roosevelt’s death in World War I. This collaboration extended to the creation of the virtual tour of the TRH, accessible through the park’s website. And our kindergarten and elementary school children have also benefited from her design expertise as she also participated in the design and creation of activities accompanying the exhibits.  

A Washington state native, Betsy is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University (BA) the University of Rhode Island (MS), and is an ABD (All But Dissertation) at the University of Missouri. Her undergraduate and graduate emphases have been in textiles and historic and cultural dress. Those interests make her a perfect “fit” for examining such textile treasures as TR’s Rough Rider uniform, his white suits, Edith’s corset and nightgown from her wedding night, the gown Ethel wore to her debut held in the White House, and many of the linens embroidered by Edith. 

When Betsy moves to her new position at the William Floyd Estate and Fire Island National Seashore , she will be wearing more than one hat in her new job. Not only will she be caring for the museum collections, but she will also be assisting with tours and developing exhibits . While some of these exhibits will deal with the natural environment, others will deal with 18th century history and the stories of slavery here on Long Island.  

Sagamore Hill has benefited enormously from its variously talented staff members, especially Betsy DeMaria. As she moves on to more career challenges and opportunities, we are grateful for all the help she has given us volunteers. And more importantly, we thank her for the intelligent and inviting exhibits she has helped launch, for her impeccable attention to detail in the organization of rare documents that will help generations of researchers, and for her generous and gentle presence.  

Betsy’s accomplishments extend beyond the archives and exhibition cases. Since coming to Sagamore Hill in 2012, Betsy and her husband became parents of Emma Hope, who will be finishing kindergarten this year. As she moves into her new duties, we know we will miss her, but we wish her and her family all the best.
Volunteer Spotlight
Rita Onorato "Files" Her Return
by Nancy Hall
The March 2013 edition of the Rough Writer featured Rita Onorato’s retirement after almost 17 years as a volunteer in the curatorial division. A past recipient of the Mary Glen Volunteer of the Year Award –  twice –and a recipient of the White Glove Award, Rita worked closely with Sue Sarna and the previous curator, Amy Verone, cataloging our extensive collections archive, working with object conservation and helping to “deep clean” the TRH long before the rehabilitation began in 2012.  

By March 2013, Rita was ready for new adventures in “storage” and organization. This time she and her husband Frank were about to embark on a complete kitchen renovation, from tear down to installing walls and cabinets, new plumbing, painting, etc. They planned to do all the work themselves, and knowing this would consume most of her time, she wanted to spend that time with Frank. The project took them a year, but looking back on that experience, Rita still says, “It was so much fun.” So after completing her last project in the curatorial division, which involved organizing and cataloging Quentin’s papers, Rita hung up her “white gloves” and retired. 

Unfortunately, Frank died in 2016. After suffering a heart attack herself while on vacation in Florida in 2018, and undergoing a long recovery, Rita is now back at Sagamore Hill, continuing her work in the curatorial division working alongside Sue Sarna. Since returning in September 2019, Rita has organized and cataloged the TR library in Old Orchard and continues to work on reorganizing the extensive research files in the Curator’s office.  

When asked what was a particular pleasure working with the files and personal papers, she brightened and said, “It’s like a treasure hunt each day.” Beside discovering interesting historical tidbits about the Roosevelt family, she said one of the most poignant discoveries occurred while working with Quentin’s papers in 2013. She came across a letter Quentin had sent his mother from France. The hand-addressed envelope was addressed to Sagamore Hill, but a black mark had been slashed across the address with this message from the post office: “Foreward to Dark Harbor, Maine.” The Roosevelts had gone to Dark Harbor soon after Quentin’s death for a few weeks of quiet following the personal and public mourning for the president’s youngest son. Rita said just holding that letter and sensing what it must have been like for Edith to receive a letter from the son she knew had already died, connected her not only to a rare historical document but to the Roosevelts in a deeply emotional and personal way. 

Rita’s return to Sagamore Hill is a joy for all who know and work with her. Like the objects, documents, fellow volunteers and staff she works with, she is a rare treasure and invaluable asset to Sagamore Hill. 
Remembering Michael Vezzi
by Milton Elis
Long time volunteer and member of the Volunteer Advisory Board and the Friends of Sagamore Hill, Michael Vezzi has passed away. Over the past 25 years Michael and the late Roy Fuchs were the only volunteers to work for the Maintenance Division at Sagamore Hill. Michael passed away during the second week in February from a series of massive strokes at Stony Brook Hospital. 

A former employee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Michael had “golden hands.” He copied the design of the Donation Collection Box in use in the TRH (which he always referred to as “the mansion”) and located the boxes in the Old Orchard Museum and another by the front door in the foyer of the house.
Perhaps Michael's crowning achievement was his research and purchase of the current awnings on the TRH, the result of endless hours researching historic photos and finding the company who could duplicate them. He also oversaw their cleaning and proper storage each year.

Active in his parish choir, Michael also served as president of his condominium community's Home Owners' Association in Mineola and on the board of FOSH. Michael (he did not like to be called, “Mike”) was one of the few volunteers who did not have an email address, but he looked forward to receiving his hard copy of this publication in the mail each month. But Michael’s superior effort at Sagamore Hill was his rehabilitation of all the wooden benches on the site.

He will be missed for his efforts and his genial personality.
Curator's Corner
by Sue Sarna
Ethel Roosevelt wrote in her diary on May 10, 1911, that the grandfather’s clock was “fixed so nice.” Attention to clock maintenance in the Roosevelt home has continued since they were put in place. For over 120 years, the Roosevelt clocks have required weekly attention. 
Aside from the weekly dusting, the clocks need to be wound every seven days or they will stop functioning. VIP, Milton Ellis , took on the task of winding them every Tuesday when he became a volunteer in the mid-1990s. Now the task falls to the Curatorial staff. Since the 1950s, the clocks have been cleaned and maintained by the same local family, the Chalikians. Jaques Chalikian, who owns the fourth generation antiques and clocks shop in downtown Oyster Bay, currently cleans and oils the clocks every other year. 
We do not know much about the provenance of the grandfather clock, but according to Archie it was owned by the Carow Family. The Ting Tang clock in the Library is believed to have been a gift from family friend, Cecil Spring Rice. This clock captivated the attention of the Roosevelt children. It stands in the center of the mantel in the library, the room Ethel called “the heart of the home.”
Jack Chalikian Working on the Grandfather Clock
Her Grandfather’s Clock?
by Nancy Hall
“My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopp’d short –  never to go again –   
When the old man died.”

Many of our Rough Writer readers might be familiar with this opening stanza of a popular song dating back to the late 1800s (not that any of you date from that period!). The title of the song is “Grandfather’s Clock”, and it tells the story of a standing clock that stopped inexplicably when its owner, “the old man” died.  

Soon after the TRH reopened in 2015, I had a group of visitors on my tour who were curious about the grandfather clock which stands between the two entrances to the dining room. I mentioned that the clock belonged to TR's grandfather. (I was later corrected, and thanks to Sue Sarna and Betsy DeMaria I learned that, according to Archie, it may have come from Edith Carow’s family, who emigrated from Shropshire, England in the late 17th century, and that the clock possibly dates from the late 18th century.) .

A gentleman on the tour that day then asked if I knew why the clock was called a “grandfather” clock. It was clearly a question he knew the answer to, so I said, “No, but do you?” Upon which he answered with a song, this song, whose first verse is found above. Since then, I have had many visitors who not only know the song but can (and do) sing it. Although the song’s history has no direct connection to the Sagamore Hill clock, it does shed some light on why all such clocks are now called “grandfather clocks”.  

Henry Clay Work, of Middletown, Connecticut, and the son of a noted abolitionist, was a printer who spent his early apprenticeship making up lyrics and harmony while picking out pieces of type one letter at a time. He was bored with his job but proved to be an adept composer whose songs would become popular in the North. It was said that his skill as a composer was matched in the Civil War period only by Stephen Foster and George Frederick Root. His two “breakthrough” hits were “Grafted into the Army” (an early “protest song”) and “Kingdom Coming” about emancipation. More than 25 years before the Titanic left Liverpool, England and “never returned,” Work wrote one of his last big musical hits, “The Ship that Never Returned”. Sound familiar? In 1959, the Kingston Trio converted that song to a train song about the MTA in Boston, where “poor old Charlie” got stuck on the “T”, and because he didn’t have another nickel, he was stuck on the non-stop subway and “never returned” to his wife (who handed him a sandwich as the “train came rumbling through”).

Work’s non-musical life was not a happy one. His first wife died in an insane asylum after giving birth to four children within six years, and Work lost most of his fortune in a failed orchard venture in Vineland, New Jersey. He died in 1884 at the age of 51. However, on his last trip abroad in 1874, Work stayed at an old hotel, The George, in Yorkshire, England. There he heard the story of the Jenkins brothers and their clock. Admired by neighbors for keeping accurate time (unusual because most pendulum, or standing, clocks did not), their clock began losing minutes at first just a few, then 15 minutes, then an hour when one of the brothers died. The clock stopped altogether when the second Jenkins brother died, allegedly at the exact moment of his death, and no attempt at repair could restart it. The clock remains to this day, over 150 years later, in the lobby of The George, its hands still pointing to 11:30, the time when the last Jenkins brother died.

Work heard the story of the clock on his visit and wrote about it in this, his most famous song. It sold over a million copies. Even into modern times, such diverse artists as folk singer Burl Ives, Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor, and Boyz II Men have sung it. These types of clocks had previously been called standing clocks, case clocks, coffin clocks, long clocks, floor clocks, and column clocks. Work’s song was so popular, and its story such a sentimental favorite, that standing clocks began to acquire the reference to the song’s hero, “grandfather,” and have been “owned” by him ever since.  

Though we do not know the exact date or provenance of the grandfather clock whose chimes still welcome visitors to Sagamore Hill (and keep docents on schedule from lingering too long in the front hall), we do know that unlike the clock in the song, the clock did not stop when TR died on January 6, 1919. Yet we can easily imagine how the song’s verses might have appealed to TR’s sense of drama and his love for a good story. Perhaps he even remembered      
“Watching its pendulum swing to and fro...
 And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know
 And to share both his grief and his joy.”           

Source: T he Pride of Olne y, official newsletter of the Lions Clubs of Olney, Maryland, October 2005.  
Victoria and Albert Museum, letter from former Assistant Keeper in the Dept of Furniture, 1979.
Two Colonels: TR and Henry Stimson
Great Americans, Good Friends and Neighbors
by Patrick Teubner
There were many people in the early 20th century who looked to Theodore Roosevelt as a role model in both their personal and professional lives. Fewer still were those people lucky enough to actually know TR, who looked to him as a mentor as well. One of those lucky few was a man named Henry Lewis Stimson.

I have lived in Huntington, NY, for more than 30 years, and in all those years, I must have driven past the Henry L. Stimson Middle School on Oakwood Road a thousand times. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago when the thought finally struck me: Who on earth is Henry L. Stimson and why does he have a middle school in Huntington named after him?

A quick search on Google revealed that Henry Stimson was one of the preeminent Americans of the 20th century and a longtime resident of Huntington. But the most notable fact to me was his friendship with, and admiration for, one of his Long Island neighbors, Theodore Roosevelt.

Stimson’s connections to TR were many. He was a partner at the law firm of Root and Clarke, with Elihu Root (TR’s Secretary of War); he was a good friend of Leonard Wood (TR’s commander in the Spanish-American War), and he was William Howard Taft’s Secretary of War (not to mention FDR’s Secretary of War during WWII). Stimson liked to hunt wild game out West and was a member of the Boone and Crockett Club, of which TR was a co-founder. In 1906, TR appointed Henry Stimson the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, then, as it is now, one of the key jobs in the entire American legal system. And both TR and Stimson took great pride in being addressed as “Colonel”, TR winning that rank in the Spanish-American War, and Stimson in WWI.

In 1893, with earnings from his law practice, Stimson was able to buy a home in Huntington Township, not far (about 8.5 miles) from Sagamore Hill. He called it Highhold, and the photographs of the house that survive suggest an architecture closely related to that of Sagamore Hill. Every year at Thanksgiving, Henry Stimson would host the Highhold Games, a series of competitive sporting events, to which Stimson invited all of his neighbors. The Brooklyn Times , on November 25, 1910, reported the following: “One of the most interested of the spectators was Col. Theodore Roosevelt, who came on foot from Oyster Bay . . . wearing a broad-brimmed hat, leggings and walking clothes which showed much usage . . .
Unfortunately, Stimson’s Highhold was torn down in the 1950s, not 10 years after his death. His property is now the West Hills County Park. Henry L. Stimson died on October 20, 1950; he is buried at St. John’s Memorial Cemetery, in Laurel Hollow, less than 2 miles from the grave of his friend, Theodore Roosevelt.

Primary source: 
The Colonel: The Life and Wars of Henry Stimson 1867 – 1950, by Godfrey Hodgson
American Art and the Roosevelt Corollary
by Janet Parga
P. Marcius Simons, an artist Theodore Roosevelt greatly admired, owned four of Simons’ paintings. All four which hang in the TRH, three in the North Room and one to the left of the north entrance to Edith’s drawing room. Born in New York City in 1867, Simons believed, as did Roosevelt, that American art and artists should develop an American cultural identity. 

Impressionistic, allegorical, and symbolistic, Simons’ technique reflects the influence of the great English landscape artist, William Turner. This is most evident in Simons’ use of light in TR’s favorite of the four paintings, Where Light and Shadow Meet.  Roosevelt purchased this painting himself and hung it in a place of honor over the mantle in the North Room. Here it would catch the afternoon sunlight emphasizing the color contrasts in the painting. The allegorical Seats of the Mighty also hangs in the North Room to the left of the entrance. This was a gift from TR’s British friend, Sir Arthur Lee.  Porcelain Towers , another symbolist depiction, hangs at the north end of the North Room, but we do not know how it was acquired.  

Victory (pictured below) was a Christmas gift from the artist himself. It is inscribed “To Mrs. Roosevelt/ In Commemoration/ 1904/Respectfully P. Marcius Simons.”  Victory is an allegorical painting representing the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The figure of America, Lady Liberty, hovers over North, Central, and South America. Above her is a spirit fairy, symbolizing freedom. Lady Liberty extends a sword toward Europe and the warships of Spain and the world, warning Europe that the United States has jurisdiction over all European attempts to intervene militarily in Latin American. The U.S., not Europe, would police the Western Hemisphere.

Simons and Roosevelt were fans of one another. Just as Simons immortalized TR’s response to the Venezuela Crisis in 1902-03 and the resulting “Corollary,” so TR complimented the artist in a March 29, 1913, article in Outlook Magazine when he said of Simons, “I wish the Armory show had contained some of the work of the late Marcius Simons. Very few people know or cared for it while he lived, but not since Turner has there been such another man on whose canvas glowed so much of the unearthly "light that never was on land or sea.”  
Victory by P. Marcius Simons Hangs in the Front Hall

Dee-Lightful Discoveries!
by Toby Selda, Betsy DeMaria, and the Curatorial Team
The Difference Between Autocracy and Democracy
Quentin's Death, a German Propaganda Failure

Several of the curatorial volunteers have been busy transcribing letters in the Quentin Roosevelt collection. After Quentin’s tragic death in July 1918, people around the world sent the Roosevelt family letters expressing their sympathy. 

In the fall of 1920, Edith Roosevelt received a different kind of letter from a Rev. John Baer Stoudt of Northampton, PA. Stoudt wished to convey to Edith a story of how her son Quentin’s death had demoralized the German forces. He wrote:

To you the mother of the brave and daring Quentin I feel that this story should be told, though I feel it has perhaps been to [sic] long withheld. So that yours may be the consolation of knowing that the sacrifice of your son in defense of human rights helped very materially to shorten the war, and that through his falling many a mother of both ally and foe has been spared the grief that is yours. What a silver lining for a cloud of sorrow.

Stoudt then went on to relay the following story from his brother, Lieut. Frederick M. Stoudt, who had spoken at length to one of the German prisoners. According to this prisoner, the German authorities believed it to be good propaganda to circulate photos of Quentin lying dead next to his plane. But, he asserted, the distribution of the photos had “the opposite effect.” He went on to explain:

. . . no sooner had Quentin fallen, but . . . it was whispered from ear to ear, from trench to trench. . . how in free America everybody was fighting. That though America was in the war only for a short time, the son of an American President, engaged in one of the most dangerous lines of service, was back of the german [sic] lines, while their country had been at war three years and that neither the Kaiser, nor any of his sons were ever so much as scratched. That it gave the soldiers a vision of the democracy of America, and helped to deepen the feeling that they, the common soldiers, were only cannon fodder for the Kaiser. That it made real to them the difference between autocracy and democracy . . . [and] that in the judgment of many this was the largest single factor in the breaking of the morale of the german [sic] army.

The Chicago Tribune’s August 4, 1918, front page article, “The Difference Between Democracy and Autocracy,” put this contrast in high relief with images of the Roosevelt sons alongside a photo of the Kaiser’s sons. 
The article explains:

In the frieze above are the kaiser [sic] and his six sons, all of them members of the military caste which sends other men to death in battle but which keeps at a safe distance from the front itself. All of the kaiser’s [sic] sons have high military commands in theory, but none of them is ever close enough to the front to be in actual danger. The crown prince, a notoriously erratic and irresponsible military officer, is given credit for generalship which is actually the work of other commanders. Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s sons, who fight for principle and not for love of conquest, are, on the other hand, in the very thick of fighting. Quentin, pictured here, was killed in an aeroplane duel on July 14. Capt. Archibald is in a hospital in France with a broken and paralyzed arm and with a leg badly wounded by shrapnel. Maj. Theodore Jr. was recently reported wounded, and Kermit, who has been serving with the British forces in Mesopotamia and has been decorated for gallantry in action, recently left the British forces to become an officer in the American artillery in France.

It’s so exciting for us when we find documents like these that can be linked to together! Stay tuned for more in the next issue!
Volunteer Travels
National Museum of the United States Air Force
by Charlotte Miska
While on a recent road trip, I visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, six miles northeast of Dayton, Ohio. It is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum featuring more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Since we all know TR is everywhere, upon entering, I asked the first docent I saw – do you have anything about Theodore Roosevelt? She answered – not Theodore, but in the Early Years Gallery there is a display about Quentin. I made a beeline to see what they had.

The exhibit includes photos, a flight jacket, goggles, leather helmets, and Quentin’s cross. On July 14, 1918, Quentin, a pilot in the 95th Aero Squadron, was shot down behind German lines by Sgt. Karl Thom, a German ace with 24 victories. The Germans buried him near the crash site. They fashioned a cross from two pieces of basswood saplings, bound together with wire from Quentin’s aircraft, the French-built Nieuport 28, the first airplane flown by combat pilots of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I.  A few days later, American soldiers took the area and replaced the German cross with one of their own. Still later, the French added a wooden enclosure. To American aviators and soldiers, the grave of Quentin Roosevelt became a shrine, his death a touchstone for service and sacrifice. In 1955, Quentin’s remains were removed to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer, France where he is buried next to his brother, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

National Museum of the United States Air Force website
National Air and Space Museum website
Replica of Nieuport 28
Quentin's Cross

Friends of Sagamore Hill
Gable Lectures Spring 2020
March 26 Burt Solomon , author of the novel, The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt , will speak on both his book and TR’s Pittsfield, MA, carriage accident in September 1902. THIS LECTURE IS CANCELED AND WILL HOPEFULLY BE RESCHEDULED AT A LATER DATE.
April 23 David Fisher will discuss the book he co-wrote with Dan Abrams, Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense , about the William Barnes vs. Theodore Roosevelt libel suit in 1915.
May 21 Ellen and Gregory Schaefer , from the North Creek Railway Depot Museum, will deliver a lecture on the timeline surrounding TR’s notification of McKinley's assassination and death . Their lecture will begin at TR's location when McKinley was shot and include his "Night Ride to the Presidency” down from Mt. Marcy to the North Creek Depot.
Lectures start at 7 pm and are held at Christ Church Parish Hall, 61 West Main Street, Oyster Bay, NY . All lectures are free and open to the public,

Check the FOSH website for complete biographies and lecture summaries.
Signs of Spring at SAHI
As the name suggests, snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)  are one of the first spring flowers to bloom. Look for them around the grounds.
Red-winged blackbirds ( Agelaius phoeniceus ) are an early spring migrant returning to Long Island in February/March. Listen for the male’s distinctive “conk-la-ree” call as you stroll around Sagamore Hill.

The Rough Writer is Available Online
You can find the Rough Writer on the Friends of Sagamore Hill website. Simply select the MORE ABOUT TR menu and click Rough Writer Newsletter. You will go to a page that lists the Rough Writer issues starting with January 2020. Back issues are now readily available for your reading pleasure. Thank you Patrick Teubner for making this happen.

Correction: In the February issue of the Rough Writer we mistakenly said that Josh Reyes came to Sagamore Hill from Fort McKinley. It was Fort McHenry.
This newsletter is produced by members of the Volunteer Advisory Board for the volunteers of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. 
The National Park Service cares
for the special places saved by
the American people so that all may
experience our heritage.
About Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, located in Oyster Bay, New York, is a unit of the National Park Service. The Site was established by Congress in 1962 to preserve and interpret the structures, landscape, collections and other cultural resources associated with Theodore Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, New York, and to ensure that future generations understand the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, his family and the significant events associated with him.

For more information please check out our website at  or call
(516) 922-4788.