The Coolest Field Trip You’ll Ever Take

When an athletic, thrill-seeking millionaire builds a mansion hideaway on the outskirts of the city, stocking it with a technologically advanced fleet of cars, boats and airplanes along with trophies of his exploits, there’s a good chance he’s either Batman or a Vanderbilt. Meet William K. Vanderbilt II circa 1910.
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Being Teddy Roosevelt

Jim Foote (l) and Theodore Roosevelt (r)
James Foote (l. Photo courtesy of James and Joni Foote). President Roosevelt (r. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

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James Foote has some pretty big shoes to fill but he’s been pulling it off effortlessly for decades. Starting with a close resemblance to the 26th President of the United States and adding a passion for research, James has built a career as one of the most sought-after Theodore Roosevelt re-enactors in the country. He’s portrayed Teddy at corporate events, on river boats, at the White House, and most fittingly, at the christening of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

In this interview with Connie Currie and Chris Kretz, you’ll hear how James approaches his role, the research he’s undertaken, and how he’s learned to handle everything from hecklers to heart attacks. We also discuss Theodore Roosevelt’s life, his connections to Long Island, and his enduring place in the American memory. Running time 47:43.

And mark your calendars! On Sunday, July 12th, 2015, Sagamore Hill will reopen to the public after a major three-year renovation project. James Foote will be part of the celebration at “the Summer White House” in Oyster Bay.

Further Research:

The Sage of Blue Point

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Gene Horton and friend.
Gene Horton and friend.

“You are on the Merrick Road, not far from Blue Point, the place that made the oyster famous. You look to the right and to the left, and, tacked to a tree, you see a sign and you try to read it, but the top of it has been shot off by a quail hunter. However, on the lower part you decipher, between the birdshot: ‘An inn what is an inn.’ ”

Welcome to Ye Anchorage Inn, as described in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1908. Your host is Capt. Bill Graham: huckster, artist, impresario, and roadside entrepreneur. He and his wife Molly ran the Inn from 1897 to 1920, creating a unique amalgam of tavern, hotel, hunting lodge, picnic ground, and Bohemian hot spot on the northwest corner of Montauk Highway and Kennedy Ave.

Graham’s clientele ranged from vaudevillians and silent movie stars to politicians, philosophers, and artists. Winsor McCay and Montgomery Flagg left sketches on the walls while early motorists made Ye Anchorage a must-see destination on their Long Island jaunts. Graham kept up a constant parade of promotional events, from his famous Sphinx statue (now in Bayport) to faux bullfights and horse raffles. He chronicled it all in his own personal magazine, The Log, full of stories, poems, artwork, and anything else he could think of.

In this episode, Blue Point historian Gene Horton details the history of Will Graham, the Irish immigrant who became a part of the history of the Great South Bay. Drawing on his vast research and collection, Gene paints a vivid picture of the man and his times.


Further Research:

Racing the Island

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Photo courtesy of the Marty Himes Collection.
Photo courtesy of the Marty Himes Collection.

Long Island at the turn of the last century was a dream come true for early racing enthusiasts: miles and miles of flat open roads. In this interview, Marty Himes relates the history of auto racing on Long Island, from the early days of the Vanderbilt Cup Races to the post-WWII boom in midget car and stock car racing. Marty is himself a racer, starting the day he rolled his home-made soapbox derby car onto the track at Freeport Stadium. Learn more about the museum he has created to preserve the history of this fascinating aspect of Long Island’s history.

The Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia

Tickets for the Freeport Speedway.


Further Research