Now he slips in and out of Theodore Roosevelt like a change of clothes. Sometimes he talks as Jim Foote, sometimes as TR, using actual quotes ("Success comes to those who lead a life of endeavor"). Foote works all day in a machine shop, coming home at night to a wife who somehow puts up with it all. Foote's resemblance to TR gave birth to a gnawing urge to spend his discretionary income on outfits that make him look even more like Theodore Roosevelt than he would naturally, which, given his girth, is quite a bit. He even owns a period bathing suit. "It's a perfectly decent bathing suit," he says in TR's voice, so you know it must be a quote.
He writes with a steel-nib pen, the kind you dunk in an inkwell. He has Roosevelt letters and books. He has Thomas Edison cylinders with recordings of the 26th president's voice. He has old magazines with TR on the cover. Jim Foote is the person antique dealers call when they turn up Teddy Roosevelt memorabilia. His apartment is decorated entirely in turn-of-the-century furniture--kerosene lamps! He and his wife have one rule, however: They will not use an object for a purpose other than the one for which it was intended. No carriage lamps outside the front door, or iceboxes used as bookcases. Foote deplores the "falsified country look."
you would not think there would be much of a call for Theodore Roosevelt these days, but in addition to his nightly appearances at the theatre, Wayne Dellinger has appeared at Pioneer Living History Museum and at a breakfast meeting of the Institute of Real Estate Managers, as well as in front of classes of schoolchildren. He has addressed the Forest Service and singles groups.
The number of such appearances, in fact, encouraged Wayne Dellinger to give up his job at Sun State Savings--that was last year--and devote himself completely to his new career. He had business cards printed, and installed in his house an answering machine that does nothing but deal with the Theodore Roosevelt side of his life. When he gives interviews to talk about why he does what he does, he wears a brown wig parted down the middle and little wire-rim glasses. The wig changes his appearance so much, he says, that people who know him from work don't recognize him in costume. Dellinger, luckily, is nearsighted, so he has a good excuse to wear the little wire-rim glasses. Unfortunately, however, his girth is less ample than that of TR in his prime, but there is at least a suggestion.
You can see, even with the wig and glasses, that Wayne Dellinger is a fairly unremarkable-looking man in his 40s. He lives in a house that has one of those living rooms that looks like people spend absolutely no time there, because there are no newspapers on the floor or other signs of normal human messiness.
There are, however, Toastmaster awards over the fireplace. About a decade ago, Wayne Dellinger went through a rough divorce. He came out of it, as many men do, with a desire to see what else life has to offer. Rather than turning his attention to younger blondes, however, Dellinger began going to Omega, which he describes as "a personal-growth group." Omega places an emphasis on testing one's limits.
One task, for instance, required enrollees to talk to a stranger in a public place and give the person something to eat. Dellinger put on an uncharacteristic headband, open shirt and gold chain, and entered the Greyhound bus station. He selected a target, sat next to him, struck up a conversation with him and offered him a stick of gum. He even managed to get the man's name and telephone number. As a result of Omega, Dellinger also went skydiving. He passed out on the way down. He spent a day at a nudist colony. He also joined Toastmasters, an organization dedicated to helping people overcome what is said to be the most pervasive fear in human life--public speaking. Members prepare little talks, or are called upon to deliver impromptu chats on suggested topics. Listeners clink their glasses--meetings tend to be at breakfast--when the speaker says, "Um."
Wayne Dellinger not only discovered he loved public speaking, he gave up his day job to pursue it. wayne dellinger H is clearly not an actor. His performance as TR is not really a performance as much as a lecture by a man who happens to be wearing a costume and pretending he is someone else. It is a labor of love.