‘Teddy Roosevelt’ spends an evening with Lynn Heidelberg Historical Society
“Preserve the past as we go into the future.”
(Neil Oswald, Lynn Heidelberg Historical Society president)
Peyton Dixon, in the guise of Teddy Roosevelt, walked around the social hall of the Lynnport Fire Company talking to people before he discussed his life.
Roosevelt explained he had visited Northwestern Lehigh Middle School that afternoon.
When Justin Arifaj introduced Roosevelt he said when people see Mount Rushmore they think of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and forget Teddy Roosevelt without whom there would be no Mount Rushmore and fewer parks.
Roosevelt said he answers to Mr. President but did not like being addressed as Teddy.
His visage, carved behind Jefferson, features spectacles and a moustache.
Roosevelt’s mother was a remarkable woman, he explained.
“My father was the greatest man I ever knew,” Roosevelt said.
“He cared for his community and for those who could not care for themselves.
He saw children wearing braces and obtained enough money to build an orthopedic hospital.
Roosevelt said he himself was a delicate child who often had to be picked up and carried around the house.
“Theodore, you have the mind but not the body,” his father once told him.
Roosevelt worked out in a home gym with encouragement from his father, as asthma kept him inside, but his body did not begin to develop until college.
His father took him to a cottage on a lake where he found tranquillity. Without glasses he stumbled around.
Roosevelt said he once saw a dead seal in a shop window and was able to figured how to measure the seal with a wooden pocket rule.
This, Roosevelt told the audience, gave him skill in the study of natural history.
He collected birds and snakes until he had a fine collection of small animals in his bedroom.
An icebox held mice until his sisters complained.
While at Harvard University, he discovered politics.
“I wanted to serve the common good,” Roosevelt explained.
“Friends of mine scoffed and said it was lowly but I intended to be part of the governing class.”
By age 23, Roosevelt was elected to the legislature. He began studying corruption in government.
One day as he was returning home, a woman fell down in front of him and insisted he help her home.
Roosevelt, however, soon found out was being set up for delving into corruption.
He headed west to the Badlands of North Dakota where he hunted buffalo and was captured by the spirit of the Badlands.
He invested in two cattle ranches but they were in “rocky and crabby” lands, and failed.
“I listened to the wind,” Roosevelt told those gathered. “It was a beautiful time.”
The people had the spirit of hard work and he worked alongside them instead of just being the boss.
He soon was given the nickname “Four Eyes.”
President William McKinley soon declared war on Cuba and Roosevelt gathered cowboys, hunters, Native Americans, polo players and college buddies to form the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry.
He turned leadership over to Col. Leonard Wood and served as lieutenant colonel until Wood was promoted and Roosevelt took over the top position.
The regiment became known as the Rough Riders. The best-known battle was the charge up San Juan Hill.
When Roosevelt returned to New York he was elected governor.
“I would listen to advice but not necessarily heed it,” Roosevelt said.
Three years after the war, he was elected to the vice presidency and when President McKinley was shot, he became president.
Roosevelt became known as the trust buster. He favored good large companies but took to task those who were not doing good.
He became known for giving people a “square deal.”
Roosevelt’s biggest legacy was to set aside park lands that were not to be abused.
Gifford Pinchot, governor of Pennsylvania, chose 16 million acres of forest to be preserved.
“We have our treasures in the woods and mountains,” Roosevelt said.
The question most asked at the historical society meeting was about the teddy bear.
Roosevelt explained he was out hunting with a party in Mississippi and did not get a bear.
His friends located an old, decrepit bear and called him over.
Roosevelt refused to shoot it. The story made the newspaper and teddy bears soon became a popular toy.
The bear had a monetary value more than any of his real-life animals.
“Since I am long gone I hope you will take over getting things done,” Roosevelt told those gathered. “There is no achievement but for the person who does the deeds.”
Local businesses donated prizes for a silent auction at the presentation with Arifaj organizing the auction.
Richard Metzger brought two items and two photographs he hoped could be identified.
One item was identified as a potato masher. The other could have been used in metalwork but no one was sure.
Following the presentation historical society President Neil Oswald gave an update on what the group was working on.
He said the train station at Ontelaunee Park was nearing completion and maintenance is needed on other buildings.
The trustees try to keep up with the work but volunteers are needed.
He asked people to remember the late Carl Snyder because his love of history and preserving it was phenomenal. He said the mission is to preserve, protect and defend the legacy that was given to the society.
Bill Mantz led the Pledge of Allegiance in Pa. German.
President emeritus Willard Snyder gave the invocation.
Upcoming events include: Pioneer Fest, Oct. 7 and an open house at the historic New Tripoli Bank, Dec. 2.