​As a Dakota Assemblies representative for the education and entertainment of local elementary students, Arch Ellwein portrayed Teddy Roosevelt, Thursday, April 20, in the Philip gymnasium.

Roosevelt visits Philip elementary

When you play, play hard. When you work, don’t play at all."
“I’m an actor. I portray Teddy Roosevelt. Thus, I become Teddy Roosevelt for just a little while,” said Arch Ellwein as he launched into a Dakota Assemblies program for local elementary students in the Philip gymnasium, Thursday, April 20.
Ellwein made it up close and personal for the audience. He climbed the bleachers and greeted individuals as classes filed in. Though he used a few decorations and props, most of the program put him amongst the students. History, older vocabulary and exuberance rolled together, followed by answering questions from the audience. Stories told were near exact quotes from what Roosevelt wrote in his 35 books.
“First thing to realize is, Teddy Roosevelt can’t see. When he had to, he wore “pince nez” (French for pinch nose) eyeglasses. They had a string in case they fell off; he is very, very enthusiastic and he can get excited,” explained Ellwein.
“He also can’t hear very well. He can’t hear in this ear because of a serious ear infection caused by malaria. He walks with a little bit of a hitch in his git-along, but he is enthusiastic,” continued Ellwein. In 1902, Roosevelt’s carriage was destroyed by a runaway electric streetcar car. Roosevelt hid his injuries during the rest of his tour because, according to Ellwein, if he could stand up he wasn’t going to disappoint. Later, two surgeries were needed to try to stop the infection.
“Roosevelt lived in a time when there was no radio, television or computers. The only way to know Teddy Roosevelt was to see him,” taught Ellwein. “When he arrives in a town by train, people can not believe their ears. His voice is high, and when he gets excited it goes even higher, and he sometimes runs out of air.” Roosevelt had asthma since he was a baby. “They think he is pretty funny, odd, strange, different.”
Roosevelt died in bed in 1911 at the age of 60. “I’ve seen strange and interesting things. And, I’ve fairly enjoyed myself,” quoted Ellwein. Speaking as Roosevelt, he told of a trip to Africa, which included collecting flora and animals, and a charging rhino story.
Roosevelt recorded his growing up. “No man I have ever known performed his duty, and enjoyed life, more than my father. I studied history and heroes. I wanted to grow up and be like those strong heroes that I read about.” Roosevelt’s father hired a prize-winning boxer to help with Teddy’s physical problems. Despite his asthma, Teddy actually won one fight, and kept the pewter cup as a valued possession.
Roosevelt’s friends talked of an advertisement on a barn; Teddy could not see the advertisement, but also could not see the barn. After his father got him his first pair of spectacles, “I never realized what I had been missing.”
An almost poetic style from Roosevelt’s view told of life when the west was still wild, including bear hunting. This included a hunt in which three slugs brought down a charging grizzly bear only paces from reaching Roosevelt.
While gripping the students’ attention, Ellwein used words such as “melancholy” and “obliquely.”
One bear story was when Roosevelt refused to shoot an ancient bear that a guide had tied up so reporters could see Roosevelt shoot a bear. Roosevelt did not speak very highly of reporters. “I swear you can pick up 30 different papers and read 30 different accounts,” said Ellwein as Roosevelt. Somehow the bear was reported as a cub. Later, toy maker Morris Michtom got Roosevelt’s permission to market “Teddy’s bear.”
Ellwein told of the many offices held by Roosevelt and of his prolific authorship. Most noted, though, is the 230 million acres put into public trust as parks during Roosevelt’s presidency.
As Roosevelt, he said, “When you play, play hard. When you work, don’t play at all. I have no time for the sour-face man or woman; no time. Enjoy life. Do something worthwhile; serving your fellow man is the best work to be had.”
As himself, he said, “In a book you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone.” He gears his Roosevelt presentation for various ages; noting that the younger students’ attention is really engaged at the bear hunts, while older students start paying more attention at about the bear hunts, an overlapping effect. Ellwein also portrays H.G. Wells, steamboat captain Grant Marsh, Sgt. John Orday of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, wagon master James Liberty Fisk, and Vic “Yellowstone” Smith.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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