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nature. I was an intruder, an interloper. And they were raising a ruckus. The sense of this was heightened by the appearance of the biggest bumblebee I have ever seen. He was the size of my thumb and he approached me without fear, buzzing around my waist, then my head, then my knees. I stood completely still at first, not quite sure what to do, and my first instinct, of course, was to brush him off or, because he could surely sting me very badly, to swat him down. But I fought this instinct. Instead, I stood still and allowed him to sniff me out and award me the bumblebee seal of approval. Which he did. I stayed on that dune for a good 20 minutes. No boats were coming so there was no need for me to get back. In many ways, that time on the dune was more of a visit to Gardiner’s Island than any hospitality offered by any human being, Gardiner or otherwise. I met a dragonfly. The bumblebee had flown off but now he was back, checking me out a second time. I thought, this dumb bumblebee didn’t get it the first time. Then I thought, maybe this is another bumblebee. I saw grasshoppers and I saw an osprey, its wingspan almost six feet, swooping low over the waves. Eventually I walked back to the dock. Gardiner’s boat was on its way now and the caretaker was back, the door to his Land Rover hanging open, a can of soda on the floor. The two women were still in the pickup truck. “Check yourself all over for ticks,’’ he told me. “We’ve got a bumper crop this year.’’

but he says he’s got to have a hot supper!’ Mrs. Conklin got up and softly headed for the dining room where she found the captain ‘roaring hungry after an evening ride in the moonlight, probably with one of the sixty five pretty nurses looking after the sick soldiers. “Suddenly, Colonel Roosevelt appeared from a small office off the dining room and approached the table. With characteristic humility, he said, ‘I am very sorry, Mrs. Conklin, that you have been disturbed; what you have here is good enough for the President of the United States. Please go and get your rest.’ By morning, Captain H. was gone and was never again seen at Third House.”


number of people I spoke to about the discrepancy between what is known about Teddy Roosevelt at Montauk and what was told last month to the County Legislature, said I should talk to Shank Dickinson, now in his early 90s, whose grandfather and grandmother owned the Dickinson House at Ditch Plains where Teddy Roosevelt stayed when he first arrived. I spoke to Shank. “Roosevelt was posted to Third House,” he said. “But he never went to live there.” I also talked to Jay Schneiderman who said he only knew what the Historical Society had told him. And I also talked to Dick White, who told me that the press took everything way out of context. “I never said he didn’t go to Third


House,” he told me. “I said he camped with his Rough Riders.”


olonel Roosevelt, General Wheeler, the Rough Riders and all the troops were all over Montauk either on foot or on horseback, either on maneuvers or just helping the other soldiers back to health as best they could. The troops were mustered out on September 14 and were then able to head off by train to their homes around the country as heroes. In June of 1900, less than two years after meeting Roosevelt in Montauk, President William McKinley chose Theodore Roosevelt to be his running mate in the upcoming election. The President was re-elected, and a few months after that, the President was assassinated by a deranged man in Buffalo at the Pan-American Exposition being held there, and Teddy Roosevelt became President of the United States.


any consider him among the greatest Presidents this country ever had. It is my suggestion that the Town Green in Montauk be renamed the Theodore Roosevelt Town Green. It is also the suggestion of Dick White and myself that the Dickinson House, still standing, a white house in the first left turn going down Ditch Plains Road, be given a historical designation as “The Teddy Roosevelt House.” It all began in Montauk.


Dan's Papers July 27, 2012  
Dan's Papers July 27, 2012  

Dan's Papers July 27, 2012 Issue