Every day is Teddy Day
If You go
What: Teddy Roosevelt: A One-Man Show by James C. Overcash
Where: Vail Public Library
When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
Information: Overcash has been performing on stage since elementary school, about the same time he became a fan of Theodore Roosevelt. The show uses the words of Theodore Roosevelt, historical recounts and imagined meetings with people from his time to bring us into his world.
VAIL – The threads of Teddy Roosevelt’s history run right through Eagle County, which you’ll learn during during James C. Overcash’s funny and enlightening one-man show.
“In school when you study history, they don’t have time to tell you the fun stuff,” Overcash said. “It just gets more and more fascinating. Historical linkages are everywhere.”
Teddyfiles, nerds about T.R. history, will enjoy today’s show at the Vail library, as will its true target audience – regular people like the rest of us.
“In my show I take as many of his words as possible and put them into these imagined scenes. There’s a touch of dramatization, and lots of comedy,” Overcash explained.
TR’s Eagle County connection
President Roosevelt was in this part of the world as the Japanese/Russian war raged. He sent telegraph with Secretary of State William Taft, asking if they wanted him to mediate. Taft passed along the message. They said no.
“OK, I’m going back to work,” T.R. said. Part of that work, however, meant hunting in Colorado.
T.R. had a couple relative around here, and visited the Stephens ranch in the Flattops, and the Jake Bora ranch – both in Eagle County – to go bear hunting.
Alas, the bear hunts were unsuccessful bear hunts. The maid staff at Glenwood’s Hotel Colorado – where he stayed – made him a stuffed bear.
That did not turn the teddy bear into a commercial item. That started with Clifford Berryman cartoons, a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist with the Washington Star newspaper.
A toymaker named Mitchum out of New York asked if he could use the term Teddy’s Bear. T.R. gave him the go-ahead. Mitchum eventually founded the Ideal toy company.
“Looking for threads and connections is what makes it fun,” Overcash said.
Another two hours of research made him an expert on T.R.’s time in the Navy. He could now do another 45 minutes on that, and answer about answer any question about it.
If that’s not exactly right, Overcash will set us straight today.
Overcash was a kid when his dad gave him the Classic Illustrated Teddy Roosevelt Roughrider.
“I was excited about history and T.R., and read everything I could about him,” Overcash said. “I want people to walk out of that play and check out a Roosevelt book.”
Overcash’s dad used to use all sorts of Teddyisms, such as, “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Overcash wanted to do a one-man show and someone told him, “All you ever do is quote Roosevelt. Do him,’” Overcash said.
And so he is.
Today’s Vail library show will run between 45 minutes and an hour.
A valley local since 1974, Overcash has been a part of Actors Theatre Project Improv Company and multiple local professional and amateur productions including The Art of Dining, Rainmaker, Rocky Horror and Art.
He is a noted storyteller, actor, historian and educator who has a deep fondness for all things “Teddy.”
The stories just keep coming
Take, for example, Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” It’s a good line and he used it in several speeches, Overcash said.
John Shrank, a saloon keeper who tried to assassinate him, said, “I did not try to kill Roosevelt the man. I tried to kill Roosevelt the politician.” How you assassinate one and not the other, Overcash wryly observed, remains a mystery.
T.R.’s uncle fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. After the way, he was one of the few not granted clemency
because he did so much damage to the north.
There was the time T.R. visited his uncle, and while he was there, so was Jefferson Davis. T.R. met Davis’s son and they made each other so mad they almost got in a fight.
There’s a picture of Lincoln’s funeral procession going to New York City. A house in the background has two people in the window. It turned out to be T.R. and his brother Elliott.
Robert Lincoln, one of Abraham’s sons, was at a railway station in New York City. The crowd was pushing, and as it did he was getting closer and closer to the rails. As he was about to be pushed onto the tracks into the path of the train, a hand reached through the crowd and yanked him back. That hand belonged to Edwin Booth, John Wilkes Booth’s son.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.