Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Jenny & Mittie

Today was a beautiful day in Medora, North Dakota. We’re camped at the Medora Campground, where I spent much of the day on my back beneath the RV, finishing repairs to a set of copper liquid propane pipes which had been torn through by a blown out tire. Too much of this trip has been spent awaiting repairs at various service departments, so I decided that this repair was all mine. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance are ingrained traits of the Westerner. It felt good to get greasy and grimy and to do the work of cutting, sizing, fitting and soldering beneath our home on wheels.

Jenny took the late afternoon of this her 44th birthday to play a round of golf at Medora’s Bully Pulpit Golf Course. What a treat and a surprise to learn that greens fees are gratus on ones birthday. Jenny spent what she would have spent on greens fees in the Bully Pulpit gift shop, and I must admit she picked out a handsome shirt for me and a great sweater for herself. Sam got to drive the golf cart.

When I cleaned up from the repair work, Faith and I went swimming in the Little Missouri River. The girls returned to the campground and we all went out for dinner. Beef – it’s what’s for dinner in Medora.

July 8th is also the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt’s mother, Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, known to her family as Mittie. Born in 1835 at Miss Oakes Boarding House in Hartford, Connecticut, her birthplace was rather incongruous with the thoroughly Southern character of the Bulloch clan. Mittie’s mother, Martha Stewart Bulloch was in Connecticut visiting her step-son, James Dunwoody Bulloch, a student at a nearby military academy.

In her eighteenth year, Mittie married TR’s father, Theodore Roosevelt, in the family home in Roswell. Life in New York was made more pleasant for Mittie when her mother and older sister Anna came to live with the Roosevelt family in the New York home at 28 East 20th Street. The Bullochs were among the founding families of Roswell, Georgia, and as the Great Civil War approached, the Bullochs, every one of them, were full square behind the Confederacy. “Uncle Jimmy” would go on to build much of the Confederate fleet in Liverpool, England.

TR was greatly influenced by his Southern kin. Historians and family alike have attributed to TR’s Southern lineage his energy, his sense of adventure and daring. “He was more a Bulloch than a Roosevelt,” can be read directly and between the lines of many a contemporary account.

So, on the 8th of July, here’s to Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt and Jenny Cook Wiegand. Happy birthday.

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