CHAPTER FOUR
Anxious Underclassman
1876-77

"When I arrived here on Wednesday night," Roosevelt informed his mother from Cambridge in late September 1876, "I found a fire burning in the grate, and the room looking just as cosy and comfortable as it could look." The room in question occupied the northeast corner of the second floor of a boardinghouse owned by a Mrs. Richardson at 16 Winthrop Street. The address was by no means the most convenient or prestigious in Cambridge; most boys preferred to live in Harvard Yard, the center of campus a few blocks north. But when Bamie, in her long-standing role as second mother (and sometimes second father) to the younger three, had come to Cambridge that summer seeking a place for Theodore, only ground-floor lodgings were left in the Yard, and she judged these too likely to aggravate his asthma. As it was, an exerciser like himself certainly didn't begrudge the five-minute walk to classes; and he positively appreciated that another five-minute walk, this time south, carried him to the banks of the Charles River, with its opportunities for rowing, swimming, and skating.

The room itself couldn't have looked like much when Bamie first saw it. Necessarily for New England, it had a fireplace, one that could burn either short sticks of wood or, more commonly, coal. Four large windows afforded light for reading and a view of passersby. Patterned paper covered the walls from wooden baseboard to matching crown molding. A somewhat clashing pattern of flowers adorned the student-resistant (but evidently not student-proof) carpet, which was reinforced before the stone hearth by a throw rug cut from the same

-54-

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