Maintaining Propriety With Gentleman’s Gloves

President Theodore Roosevelt and French Ambassador Jules Jusserand
President Theodore Roosevelt and French Ambassador Jules Jusserand

One of President Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite pastimes was called “scrambles.” This activity involved point-to-point walks, where the participants were allowed to move forward only in a straight line. Upon meeting an obstacle, they could go over or through it, but never around.

“While in the White House I always tried to get a couple hours’ exercise in the afternoons – sometimes tennis, more often riding, or else a rough cross-country walk, perhaps down Rock Creek… Often, especially in the winters and early springs, we would arrange for a point to point walk, not turning aside for anything – for instance, swimming Rock Creek or even the Potomac if it came in our way. Of course under such circumstances we had to arrange that our return to Washington should be when it was dark, so that our appearance would scandalize no one,” said Roosevelt.

One of Roosevelt’s favorite companions on these scrambles was French Ambassador Jules Jusserand. On one such adventure the obstacle was a creek. Undeterred by the water, the President threw off his clothes and prepared to skinny dip his way across. When he saw his host doing this, Jusserand recalled, “I, too, for the honor of France removed my apparel, everything except my lavender kid gloves. The President cast an inquiring look at this as if they, too, must come off, but I quickly forestalled any remark by saying, ‘With your permission, Mr. President, I will keep these on; otherwise it would be embarrassing if we should meet ladies.'”


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