The Rough Riders are probably the first thing we think of when we hear the name Teddy Roosevelt -- after we're reminded he was the cowboy one, not the wheelchair one. Then we think of trust-busting and bushy mustaches, and did I remember to get milk? Today I am going to teach you about another side of our 25th president.
To learn more about Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, I took a trip down to the Teddy Roosevelt house museum on E. 20th St. While I was there, I learned that when we think of our TR, we should immediately think of gold and dollar bills, because he was LOADED.
Everything in the house was luxurious. The stained glass doors had real gold in them. The china had never been used. The sheets had never been slept in. They called it the ship of dreams... wait, sorry. That's Titanic. But the stuff at the museum was really nice.
There were two zebra skin rugs and all kinds of dead animal heads from the mighty beasts Teddy Roosevelt had shot. There was even a whole stuffed lion. TR's saddle was placed right near it, and I like to imagine him getting drunk and putting the saddle on the lion and sitting on it trying to lasso people and then rubbing his big belly with money and laughing.
At first, when our tour guide told us TR's grandmother once said, "with great wealth comes great responsibility," I thought that was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. What could be bad about having money?
His grandmother may have been onto something -- being rich couldn't solve every problem. The house reminded me that in all eras, rich people are socially awkward because they have no concept of reality. When Teddy went to go find himself on the range as a cowboy, he brought a knife from Tiffany's. His Rough Riders uniform was from Brooks Brothers, and his chaps were from Abercrombie & Fitch. I'm sure he showed up on the first day and all the real cowboys made fun of him and called him a fancy nancy pretty rich boy. Interesting side note: Abercrombie & Fitch also made the gun Hemingway used to kill himself, as well as the pants I can't fit into anymore, which makes me want to kill myself. See how history comes full circle?
Money also didn't help the Roosevelt family avoid the freaky-deaky conventions of their time. Did you know Eleanor Roosevelt was Teddy's niece, which means she was related to her husband FDR? Our tour guide said that back then "it was normal to marry someone you were related to." I actually already knew that from literature, such as Edgar Allan Poe stories and the book Portrait of a Lady. At least I think that's where that one is going. I've been halfway through that book for like six months.
Marrying your cousin or being made fun of by cool cowboys aren't that bad in the scheme of things when you are as rich as the members of the Roosevelt family. So was his grandmother right? Does great responsibility come with great wealth? First of all, I think that's from Spiderman. Second of all, even if money does come with responsibility, Grandma Roosevelt neglected to mention all the other things it comes with, such as vacations, manservants, and lions in the living room. Being rich means you get to have no responsibilities and spend all your time buying expensive knives and killing animals in Africa.
To be fair, there is one thing wealth could not provide for Teddy, and that is not having to use a chamber pot. Gross.