Previous Index Next



heritance from the man who was one of the founders in his city of nearly every patriotic, humanitarian, and educational endeavor. I think, perhaps, the combination of the stern old Dutch blood with the Irish blood, of which my brother always boasted, made my father what he was-unswerving in duty, impeccable in honesty and uprightness, and yet responsive to the joy of life to such an extent that he would dance all night, and drive his "four-in-hand" coach so fast that the old tradition was "that his grooms frequently fell out at the comers" !

I remember that he always gave up one day of every week (and he was a very busy merchant and then banker) to the personal visiting of the poor in their homes. He was not satisfied with doing active work on many organizations, although he did the most extraordinary amount of active organization work, being one of the founders of the Children's Aid Society, of the State Aid Society, of the Sanitary Commission and Allotment Commission in the time of the Civil War, and of the Orthopedic Hospital, not to mention the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art but he felt that even more than this organized effort must be the effort to get close to the hearts and homes of those who were less fortunately situated than he.

My older sister suffered from spinal trouble, and my father was determined to leave no stone unturned to make her body fit for life's joys and life's labors, and it was because of his efforts to give his little girl health-successful efforts-that in co-operation with his friends Howard Potter and James M. Brown and several others he started the great work of the New York Orthopedic Hospital, having become imbued with belief in the methods of a young doctor, Charles Fayette Taylor. Nobody at that time believed in treating such diseases in quite the way in which modem orthopedy treats them now, but my father, like his son, had the vision of things to be, and was a leader in his way, as was my brother in his.

He could not at first influence sufficient people to start the building of a hospital, and he decided that if the New York

The Nursery and Its Deities   5

public could only see what the new instruments would do for the stricken children, that it could be aroused to assist the enterprise.

And so, one beautiful spring afternoon, my mother gave what was supposed to be a purely social reception at our second home, at 6 West 57th Street, and my father saw to it that the little sufferers in whom he was interested were brought from their poverty-stricken homes to ours and laid upon our diningroom table, with the steel appliances which could help them back to normal limbs on their backs and legs, thus ready to visualize to New York citizens how these stricken little people might be cured. He placed me by the table where the children lay, and explained to me how I could show the appliances, and what they were supposed to achieve; and I can still hear the voice of the first Mrs. John Jacob Astor, as she leaned over one fragile-looking child and, turning to my father, said: "Theodore, you are right; these children must be restored and made into active citizens again, and I for one will help you in your work."

That very day enough money was donated to start the first Orthopedic Hospital, in East 59th Street. Many business friends of my father used to tell me that they feared his sudden visits when, with a certain expression in his eyes, he would approach them, for then before he could say anything at all they would feel obliged to take out their pocketbooks and ask: "How much this time, Theodore?"

One of his most devoted interests was the newsboys' lodginghouse in West 18th Street, and later in 35th Street, under the auspices of the Children's Aid Society. Every Sunday evening of his life he went to that lodging-house, after our early hospitable Sunday supper, to which many a forlorn relation or stranded stranger in New York was always invited, and there he would talk to the boys, giving them just such ideas of patriotism, good citizenship, and manly morality as were the themes of his son in later years.

My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

Previous Index Next