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50   My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

of them never were there happier children than those who arrived home in America in the spring of 1870.

Earlier in our lives my father, always thinking of the problem of the fragile health of his two older children, conceived the idea of turning the third room of the second story at 28 East 20th Street into an out-of-doors piazza, a kind of open-air gymnasium, with every imaginable swing and bar and seesaw, and my mother has often told me how he called the boy to him one day-Theodore was now about eleven years of age-and said: "Theodore, you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one's body, but I know you will do it." The little boy looked up, throwing back his head in a characteristic fashion; then with a flash of those white teeth which later in life became so well known that when he was police commissioner the story ran that any recreant policeman would faint if he suddenly came face to face with a set of false teeth in a shop-window-he said, "I'll make my body."

That was his first important promise to himself and the delicate little boy began his work; and for many years one of my most vivid recollections is seeing him between horizontal bars, widening his chest by regular, monotonous motion-drudgery indeed-but a drudgery which eventuated in his being not only the apostle but the exponent of the strenuous life.

What fun we had on that piazza ! The first Theodore Roosevelt, like his son, was far ahead of his times, and fresh air was his hobby, and he knew that the children who will cry if they are made to take dull walks on dreary city streets, will romp with dangerous delight ungovernessed and unmaided in an outdoor gymnasium. I use the word "dangerous" advisedly, for one day my lovely and delicate mother had an unforgetable shock on that same piazza. She happened to look out of the window opening on to the piazza and saw two boys-one of whom, needless to say, was Theodore-carefully balancing the seesaw from

Green Fields and Foreign Faring   51

the high rail which protected the children from the possibility

of falling into the back yard, two stories below. Having wearied

of the usual play, the aforesaid two boys thought they would

add a tinge of excitement to the merriment by balancing the

seesaw in such a manner as to have one boy always in the thrill

ing position of hanging on the farther side of the top rail, with

the possibility (unless the equilibrium were kept to perfection)

of seesaw, boys, and all descending unexpectedly into the back


One may well imagine the horror of the mother as she saw

her adventurous offspring crawling out beyond the projection

of the railing, and only great self-control enabled her to reach

the wooden board held lightly by the fingers of an equally criminal cousin, and by an agonized clutch make it impossible for the seesaw to slide down with its two foolhardy riders.

Needless to say, no such feat was ever performed again, but the piazza became the happy meeting-ground of all the boys and girls of the neighborhood, and there not only Theodore Roosevelt but many of his friends and family put in a stock of sturdy health which was to do them good service in later years. At the same time the children of that house were leading the normal lives of other little children, except for the individual industry of the more delicate one, who put his hours of necessary quiet into voracious reading of history, and study of natural history.

Again the summers were the special delight of our lives, and the following several summers we spent on the Hudson River, at or near Riverdale, where warm friendships were formed with the children of our parents' friends, Mr. and Mrs. William E. Dodge, Mr. and Mrs. Percy R. Pyne, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Harriman, and Mr. Robert Colgate.

Groups of joyous children invented and carried into effect every imaginable game, and, as ever, our father was the delightful collaborator in every scheme of pleasure. There began Theodore's more active collection of birds and animals. There he

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