PIQUA — One of America’s most beloved presidents will be speaking in Piqua when the Johnston Farm Friends Council presents “An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27 in the Fort Piqua Hotel Ballroom.
Through the personage of scholar/actor Gene Worthington, Teddy Roosevelt will share his observations on American life and politics in what observers have described as “Teddy Roosevelt recreated.”
During his public life, Roosevelt made a number of campaign stops throughout Ohio. Traveling by train, Roosevelt would often make a dozen whistle stops in the same day, usually speaking from the observation car’s rear platform, but occasionally from the steps of the local courthouse or other imposing building in the center of town.
For example, on May 16, 1912, he made whistle stops in Greenville, Bradford, Piqua, Sidney, Lima, Defiance, North Baltimore and Toledo. The previous day, Roosevelt gave speeches in Kenton, Elyria, Oberlin, Bellevue, Springfield, Norwalk, Sandusky, Fremont, Fostoria, Findlay, Bellefontaine, Urbana, Xenia, and Dayton. On May 17, 1912, Roosevelt gave speeches in Ironton, Chillicothe, Portsmouth, Jackson, Athens, Nelsonville, Logan, Lancaster and Columbus.
One of his most memorable speeches was delivered on Oct. 14, 1912. An unemployed saloonkeeper shot the former president and Progressive Party candidate outside a Milwaukee hotel. Rather than allowing himself to be rushed to the hospital, Roosevelt insisted on delivering his scheduled 90-minute speech.
His lengthy prepared remarks, folded inside his breast pocket, undoubtedly helped to save his life.
“It takes more than that to kill a bull moose,” the wounded candidate assured them. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a bullet-riddled, 50-page speech. Holding up his prepared remarks, which had two big holes blown through each page, Roosevelt continued.
Worthington has portrayed historical characters in the Chautauqua style for over 30 years. This is a humanities program in which a scholar/actor brings to life a character from American history. Worthington brings his passion for baseball history to the stage with his presentation of Babe Ruth. His performance of frontiersman Simon Kenton recreates American frontier history. And of course, he portrays the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt.
Worthington has served as the artistic director of the Historic Fayette Theater in Fayetteville, W.Va. for the past 20 years. During that time, he has directed over 30 productions, served as technical director for many of the shows and even found time to perform on the stage of the Historic Fayette Theater. His most memorable roles include Morrie in “Tuesdays with Morrie,” the Troll in “Jack and the Giant,” the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood,” the Director in “Play On,” and Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.”
Seats for “An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt” can be reserved for $25 each by calling the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency at 773-2522. Tickets for members of the Johnston Farm Friends Council or the Ohio History Connection are $20 each. The show will be helping to raise funds for the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, one of the 58 sites partnered with Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society).
Worthington’s appearance is co-sponsored by the Piqua Library Foundation, Greg and Alissa Blankenship, Dan and Margaret French, the Mullenbrock Family, Tom and Sandy Shoemaker, Holiday Inn Express, Unity National Bank, Koverman Staley Dickerson Insurance, the Miami Valley Center Mall and the Comfort Inn.