Monday, October 10, 2005

To Add to the Favorite TR Stories File

A tale from the Spanish-American War, from Warren Zimmerman, First Great Triumph, 298-299:

"Before leaving Cuba with his men, Roosevelt indulged in a characteristic adventure. He decided to swim out to the collier Merrimac, which had been sunk at the entrance to Santiago Harbor in an unsuccessful effort to trap Cervera's fleet. Jack Greenway, one of the more intrepid of the Rough Riders, swam with him and left this account:

We weren't out more than a dozen strokes before [Consul General Fitzhugh] Lee, who had clambered up on a parapet of Fort Morro, began to yell.

"Can you make out what he's trying to say," the old man [Roosevelt] asked, punctuating his words with long, overhand strokes.

"Sharks," says I, wishing I were back on shore.

"Sharks," says the colonel, blowing out a mouthful of water, "they" stroke "won't" stroke "bite." Stroke. "I've been" stroke "studying them" stroke "all my life" stroke "and I never" stroke "heard of one" stroke "bothering a swimmer." Stroke. "It's all" stroke "poppy cock."

Just then a big fellow, probably not more than ten or twelve feet long, but looking as big as a battleship to me, showed up alongside us. Then came another, till we had quite a group. The colonel didn't pay the least attention....

Meantime the old general was doing a war dance up on the parapet, shouting and standing first on one foot and then on the other, and working his arms like he was doing something on a bet.

Finally we reached the wreck and I felt better. The colonel, of course, got busy looking things over. I had to pretend I was interested, but I was thinking of the sharks and getting back to shore. I didn't hurry the colonel in his inspection either.

After a while he had seen enough, and we went over the side again. Soon the sharks were all about us again, sort of pacing us in, as they had paced us out, while the old general did the second part of his war dance. He felt a whole lot better when we landed, and so did I."
Sharks? Poppycock.

I love TR.


Stephen said...


Anonymous said...

Sobresaliente. Enhorabuena. Añadiré la página a mis marcadores.
Outstanding. Best wishes. Welcome to my bookmarks.
learn spanish in cubaRoberto Iza Valdés
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