Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest of Honor

Guest of Honor, penned by Deborah Davis, is subtitled: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation. It sounded like a good read; it was, although, I got bored at times. Learned things I did not know (or knew and forgot), such as President McKinley being assassinated.

"Alger moved to New York City, where he became fascinated with the lost boys~the homeless, 'newsies,' bootblacks, and street musicians who seemed to be everywhere after the Civil War. These vagabond children lived on the streets, supporting themselves as best they could. In 1854 they received a helping hand from the Children's Aid Society, which opened the first Newsboy's lodging House, a refuge where a homeless boy could find a bead and hot meal."

Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. was an avid supporting of the charity. Horatio Alger visited the home often, using the boys as "inspiration for 'Ragged Dick," and other characters. Davis states that Theodore Roosevelt was one of Alger's "biggest fans", reading the short stories "in his favorite children's magazine, Our Young Folks."

When he was 15 Booker set off to the Hampton Normal and Agricultural School. He ran out money, forced to walk or hitchhike 300 miles to Richmond, Virginia. "His bed that night was a patch of bare ground under an elevated sidewalk, his battered and dirty satchel serving as his pillow."

TR as Roosevelt was referred to, considered himself a "predestined victim" due early childhood illnesses. The senior Roosevelt challenged him to build up his body, because without a sound body, the mind would be wasted.

A silly coincidence: Marvin Hamlisch died on August 6th sending me to You Tube for a video for The Entertainer. I happened upon a scene from the Scott Joplin movie ~ Dueling Pianos Competition. Davis wrote about Joplin and ragtime music. It was awhile before I found the connection to the White House dinner ~ Joplin wrote an opera Guest of Honor.

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