Hope many of my “Friends”, et. al. are watching Ken Burns doc on the Roosevelts which premiered last night and is on every night this week on PBS. Last night was about Teddy.
I’ve probably read as many books on the Roosevelts as I have on Lizzie Borden (and had Lizzie lived 6 more years she very well might have been invited to take tea at the White House with Eleanor via an introduction by her cousin, Grace Hartley Howe – watch for the Howe connection when Franklin is covered). I’ll expand a little here.
Lizzie’s cousin, Grace Hartley Howe was a Borden. Her mother was Mary Borden, who’s father was Cook Borden, uncle to Andrew Borden. Thus, Grace and Lizzie had grandfathers who were brothers. Got that so far? Well, now, Grace married Louis McHenry Howe, who became Franklin Roosevelt’s political strategist, chief advisor and private secretary. Louis, in fact, lived in a small room to the rear of the Lincoln bedroom at the White House from 1933 until shortly before his death in 1936. Thus, Helen and his two children often came to the White House. Louis also visited his family on Locust Street in Fall River or their cottage in Horseneck Beach.
Lizzie died in 1927 but long before that, Grace and Louis visited Lizzie at her home on French Street. Lizzie was a willing contributor to the many causes and organizations that Grace took part in, including the election of Franklin to Governor of New York So there was a thread – among many – that bound them together. Had Lizzie not died in 1927 but lived on until 1933, she very well might have visited the White House with Grace to meet the First Lady and perhaps the President himself. It would not have been Lizzie’s first visit to Washington, D.C., but it would probably have been among her last.
I was struck last night by the photograph of a home in which Teddy Roosevelt rented a room when he went to Harvard in 1876. It is the exact style of the infamous Fall River home of Andrew Borden on 92 Second Street.. They are so similar one could ponder if Trafford and Southard worked from the same blueprints. Also I was struck by this photo of he and his Harvard classmates which I thought bore a strong resemblance to my “second son”, Chris Ritter.
I must say, of ALL the Roosevelts and their progeny, I most relate to Teddy’s first daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth – the one who’s mother (TR’s first wife) died on the same day as Teddy’s own mother. And *that* event was a severe life altering experience for Theodore Roosevelt. Not able to bear to even look upon his baby daughter because the emotional pain was so severe, he sent her to be raised by his sister. But what a dame she turned out to be! I’ve loved reading about her for many, many years. In fact, I can relate to her in many ways. What a wonderful, long life she had.
Fun Fact: I was contacted by one of Burns’ researchers at Florentine Productions many years ago for information on Louis McHenry Howe as part of the development for this documentary. She had stumbled on my blog post HERE.
Can’t wait for tonight’s episode. I”m going to DVR all of them and save for repeated viewings. Yep, I eat this stuff up with a spoon.