Theodore Roosevelt, Alice Lee Roosevelt, and Lightfoot traveled to Richfield Springs, New York, for a relaxing vacation with the hope that some rest would improve Roosevelt’s health. He arrived feeling well, but the hotel’s health regimen might have been more painful than his illness. This regimen is colorfully denounced in a letter to Corinne Roosevelt Robinson.
“Personally, I enjoyed the trip immensely, in spite of the mishaps to spouse and steed, and came in to Richfield Springs feeling superbly. But, under the direction of the heavy jowled idiot of a medical man to whose tender mercies Doctor Polk has intrusted me, I am rapidly relapsing. I don’t so much mind drinking the stuff – you can get an idea of the taste by steeping a box of sulphur matches in dish water and drinking the delectable compound tepid from an old kerosene oil can - and at first the boiling baths were rather pleasant; but, for the first time in my life I came within an ace of fainting when I got out of the bath this morning, I have a bad heache [headache?], a general feeling of lassitude, and am bored out of my life by having nothing whatever to do, and being placed in that quintessence of abomination, a large summer hotel at a watering place for underbred and over dressed girls, fat old female scandalmongers, and a select collection of assorted cripples and consumptives.”
Detail, Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, July 1, 1883, MS Am 1540 (42), Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.