I really like having out-of-town guests. They get me out of the house, give me an excuse to be a tourist at home, and enjoy this wonderful city through their eyes. Today, I got to touring thanks to Mary Chudley.
I was born in New York City, lived here most of my life, and even wrote books on the Presidents, but until today, I had never visited the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace. Mind you, it’s not in some out-of-the-way, difficult-to-get-to place. It’s at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan. I am literally within meters of the place a minimum of twice a month (I walk along Broadway to get from the subway stop to the place where we go for trivia once a month). I mean seriously, how could I not have visited before?
Well, Mary came to town today, and she had a few destinations in mind, but I mentioned the TR place, said I’d never been there, and she said “Why not? Let’s go!” It was just off the route I’d planned to walk anyway (again, those few meters from Broadway), and it was open. So we went.
The rangers on duty were friendly and knowledgeable, so we looked through the display cases and pictures downstairs, and then joined up with the tour of the upper floors. We saw the house in which TR and his siblings were born, and lived the first 14 years of TR’s life. Saw some of the original furnishings and decor. The ranger leading the tour focused on how our childhood creates the adults we become, while giving the tour in two languages simultaneously. A lot of it felt very familiar, because I’ve just recently finished reading TR’s autobiography, but that doesn’t diminish from the impact of being there. And, in addition to these pictures, I didn’t take a picture of the speech that was in his pocket when he was shot in 1912, which is there, bullet hole and all.
They don’t have my books in the gift shop (but it is a rather small shop, so I wasn’t miffed — besides, I did see my book at Sagamore Hill when we were there), but other than that, it was wonderful.
Then we continued on the originally planned route: through Union Square, to Forbidden Planet, the Strand, New York Costumes, through Astor Place to St. Mark’s Place, then to Washington Square Park, and back up to Penn Station. A very good day.