From Here to There

Finally, Spring!  Time for car washes and maybe even a shiny new ride, and for fortunate young people a memorable graduation gift on wheels.  The sixty years in which Theodore Roosevelt lived were remarkable in terms of the changes in transportation.  In the 1870s his father drove through Central Park behind four horses, high on a phaeton like the one above.

Dog Cart Mills Design

While at Harvard, Theodore Jr. sent for his horse and dogcart so he could court beautiful Alice Lee.  He was so obsessed with her that he nearly drove the poor animal lame.

Theodore in Rough Rider uniform on horseback, in stereoview (

As cowboy, hunter, and soldier, he was enamored with horses all of his life.  A list of them begins with Pony Grant which he and his brother and sister rode at their summer homes: also, Lightfoot, Boone, Crockett, Wire Fence, Manitou, Peacock, Little Texas, Rain in the Face (drowned in transport to the Cuban shore), Bleistein, Yagenka, and Algonquin (son Archie’s pony, which Quentin put in the White House elevator to visit his brother recovering from a serious illness in his bedroom).


Teddy Roosevelt at Lawrence Train Station

 Trains were a standard in his life from birth to death.  They carried him to the seashore, to cities in Europe on a grand tour with his family after the Civil War, and on stump speeches as a young politician and again as president.  Sometimes he rode in a private car and dictated letters, once to the exasperation of his younger sister who was standing in for his secretary.
President Roosevelt on Way to Michigan Agricultural College

The automobile made quick travel accessible to the average American.  Though Theodore didn’t buy one to drive himself for awhile, he rode in many of them, especially in parades.  He was the also the first president to take a ride in a submarine and in an airplane, the pilot of which was killed in a crash shortly afterward.

On the sea, he saw steam paddleboats morph into modern ocean liners.  But he loved rowing a little boat on Oyster Bay, his home waters, especially with second wife Edith.

His favorite way to travel?  Walking.  He liked long walks especially, over mountains from valley to valley on the Swiss countryside, from West Fifty-Seventh Street in New York to law school, from the White House to the Dutch Reformed Church and his older sister’s home in Washington.  No one who has read his biographies can miss the point to point “walks” he took friends on in Rock Creek Park.

The man who coined the term “strenuous life” liked to get from here to there on his own two feet.