Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. 1919.

Incidents of a Southern Trip

White House, Nov. 1, 1905.

I had a great time in the South, and it was very nice indeed having Mr. John McIlhenny and Mr. John Greenway with me. Of course I enjoyed most the three days when Mother was there. But I was so well received and had so many things to say which I was really glad to say, that the whole trip was a success. When I left New Orleans on the little lighthouse tender to go down to the gulf where the big war ship was awaiting me, we had a collision. I was standing up at the time and the shock pitched me forward so that I dove right through the window, taking the glass all out except a jagged rim round the very edge. But I went through so quickly that I received only some minute scratches on my face and hands which, however, bled pretty freely. I was very glad to come up the coast on the squadron of great armored cruisers.

In the gulf the weather was hot and calm, but soon after rounding Florida and heading northward we ran into a gale. Admiral Brownson is a regular little gamecock and he drove the vessels to their limit. It was great fun to see the huge warcraft pounding steadily into the gale and forging onward through the billows. Some of the waves were so high that the water came green over the flying bridge forward, and some of the officers were thrown down and badly bruised. One of the other ships lost a man overboard, and although we hunted for him an hour and a half we could not get him, and had a boat smashed in the endeavor.

When I got back here I found sister, very interesting about her Eastern trip. She has had a great time, and what is more, she has behaved mighty well under rather trying circumstances. Ethel was a dear, as always, and the two little boys were as cunning as possible. Sister had brought them some very small Japanese fencing armor, which they had of course put on with glee, and were clumsily fencing with wooden two-handed swords. And they had also rigged up in the dark nursery a grewsome man with a pumpkin head, which I was ushered in to see, and in addition to the regular eyes, nose, and saw-tooth mouth, Archie had carved in the back of the pumpkin the words “Pumpkin Giant,” the candle inside illuminating it beautifully. Mother was waiting for me at the Navy Yard, looking too pretty for anything, when I arrived. She and I had a ride this afternoon. Of course I am up to my ears in work.

The mornings are lovely now, crisp and fresh; after breakfast Mother and I walk around the grounds accompanied by Skip, and also by Slipper, her bell tinkling loudly. The gardens are pretty dishevelled now, but the flowers that are left are still lovely; even yet some honeysuckle is blooming on the porch.