Maass' fascination with the 26th president began after he wrote a book report on “The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill.”
Andy Maass never wrote his thesis for his master’s degree.
His subject was going to be about Theodore Roosevelt as a hero. He could still write it if he wanted. He has all the notes and a preliminary draft.
But, he’s choosing not to spend his time on that. Instead, he’s honoring Roosevelt in a different, perhaps, more fun way.
His thesis would not have been the first time he wrote about Roosevelt.
Andy Maass’ fascination with the 26th president began when he had to do a book report in eighth grade. He read and reported on “The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill.”
“I liked it so much because I liked his relationship to his children,” Maass said. “He could always be interrupted to go play with his kids.”
Since then, Maass has collected various items on Roosevelt. He has no idea how many items, but he does have 1,000 envelopes, which leads itself to the assumption that Maass has thousands of items.
Walking into Andy Maass’ study is like walking into a museum. From a Teddy Roosevelt multiplication game and commemorative spoons to children’s plates and puzzles and posters, Maass’ study is filled with all things Roosevelt.
Not to mention his labradoodle, who is aptly named Teddy, who wanders around.
One of the most prized possessions in his collection is an original page from Roosevelt’s campaign speech from the day he was shot in 1912. Roosevelt’s glasses and speech caused the bullet to ricochet elsewhere in his chest, Maass said. Maass has the article from Munsey’s Magazine about Roosevelt’s “marvelous escape” from death and page 9 of Roosevelt’s 50-page speech that he gave later that day.
Maass acquired the page from a friend of his father’s who was a manuscript collector, which is something his parents did as well. Maass’ mother collected letters from presidents’ wives and had every one except for a letter from Roosevelt’s first wife, who died two days after the birth of their daughter, Alice.
So, as collectors themselves, his parents supported his collecting.
Following his book report, his parents took him on a trip to Oyster Bay, N.Y., to see Roosevelt’s house on Sagamore Hill. Later, they gave him autographs, clippings and letters of Roosevelt from the newspapers.
As Maass got older, he better understood politics, which means he knows Roosevelt wasn’t always sure of himself.
“As I learned more and I read more of the biographies, there are many, many conflicts,” Maass said. “He was not an unconflicted person, which actually makes him more interesting. His mind was so quick, and he knew so much that he had an opinion about anything, anybody and much of that gets used today, but the character and the time has changed.”
Maass said one of the reasons he admired Roosevelt was because of his senior thesis in the 1880s about women’s right to vote. When Maass said the character and time has changed, he points to Roosevelt’s quote about being a brave American.
“Teddy was thoughtful most of the time,” Maass said. “He was very egotistical, but he cared and he was smart. One of the smartest I think if you measure the different IQs, but he was a 20th century person coming out of the 19th century and he understood the media.”
Originally, Maass built his collection through dealers who specialized in presidents. Now though, he said it’s easy to find treasures on Ebay.
Over time, Maass has strayed away from collecting political items and focused on Roosevelt as a “hero” in pop culture.
“I wanted more focus on Roosevelt hero popular culture, and the fact that Obama and George W. Bush both said that one of their heroes, and their political hero, was Theodore Roosevelt, so he is still an attraction,” Maass said. “It was about intellect and involvement with people, and he stood tall for that.”