One of my obsesions was to determine whether Alice Roosevelt was at the 1904 Marathon and whether she placed a wreath upon Fred Lorz's head. Lorz had cheated and rode part of the race via car due to cramps. He got out of the car because it broke down and started running again. Feeling quite well he finished first. Here's the puzzle I have been trying to figure out: Was Alice Roosevelt (President Teddy Roosevelt's daughter) at the ceremony and did she place a wreath upon Lorz's head?
The Smithsonian Magazine states: "Alice Roosevelt, the 20-year-old daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, placed a wreath upon Lorz’s head and was just about to lower the gold medal around his neck when, one witness reported, “someone called an indignant halt to the proceedings with the charge that Lorz was an impostor.” You can read the rest of the article here.
And this article is Alice denying it...sort of.
Then I stumbled upon this ridiculous article about Quentin Roosevelt and his goat:
And back to my research about Alice and whether she was in St. Louis giving out medals -- what I did find was that she WAS there a month earlier:
What I found super odd was that they gave her a girdle! As my mom said, "Isn't that kind of personal?"
So... yet another project for me. I knew that the girdle we think of today... or rather a 1950s type girdle...can't possible be what they were referring to in the article. I found another article that mentioned a "girdle belt." So I key word searched that in google. Nothing. I tried the historical newspapers and found that belt girdles came with jackets. So I looked further and found this article:
So from what I can surmise, the belt girdle is what the lady is wearing on the right. It's the belt on the outside of her dress.
So back to the other mystery of where was Alice: I was not having any luck searching for her in St. Louis but from all of the articles I was finding it was clear that newsmen at that time followed her everywhere! One letter to the editor even complained about just that and suggested that the newsmen leave her alone and stop reporting on her daily activities. So what I needed to do was find out where she was not where she wasn't.
That's when I found this article:
The article was dated the day the Olympic Marathon happened. Now, one can surmise that an article would be written a day or two after an incident BUT it would also take an individual time to get from place to place and Alice was not in St. Louise on this day. On a side note: I found SEVERAL Alice fainting articles.
I then found this article:
Not only was Alice in Newport, RI on the day of the Marathon but she would remain there for another week!
One must ask how this myth of Alice Roosevelt got rolling and why everyone believed it... including such renowned institutions such as the Smithsonian. It IS always possible that the news articles I found were untrue but in that case I would like to see the photograph of Alice in question. Until then I will stick with my guns and say that I have disproven a long held myth.