The Greatest Optimist I Have Ever Met

(Continuing with our peek into the correspondence files between Harold and Antoine “Tony” de Vallombrosa, grandson of the Marquis and Medora de Mores, after Harold had purchased the Marquis family’s holdings in Medora. Here’s an exchange of letters from 1963. Try to imagine Harold onstage as Teddy Roosevelt!)

February 24, 1963

Dear Friend Harold,

I cannot let the New Year in without sending you my best wishes as my past year’s trip to Bismarck and Medora was for me one of the highlights of 1962—it was greatly so thanks to you and your understanding.

Here I am thousands of miles away and yet frequently I think of you as the greatest optimist I have ever met. This was confirmed by reading very completely the 20th anniversary Gold Seal Report. (Harold had mailed Tony a copy of his company’s full-color 20th anniversary report.)

So whenever I feel depressed and need a good example I think to myself all I need is a little more will power.

I have been exercising plenty to get back in shape but the going is still rough—circulatory problems and varicose veins are difficult to eliminate.

I hope you are in good shape. I enjoyed visiting your horse ranch and your hospitality. I was sorry not to see your New York associates and expect to reach them next time. Knowing you are obviously continuously coming with new ideas and making constructive use of them, I would very much appreciate hearing more about your fabulous Gold Seal Co. Also if any major activities around Medora and the Badlands are being considered I would enjoy keeping up with what is going on. Hoping this long letter is not boring you. I feel again sorry not to have been able to personally thank all the very kind people I met in Bismarck.

Very sincerely,
Antoine de Vallombrosa

June 13, 1963

Dear Friend Antoine,

I was in Medora and worked all day Monday this week. Among other things I find out that I own the original little home your grandfather lived in before he built the chateau. We got to checking and it has the old square nails on the siding and is still standing exactly where it was, on the north side of the Rough Riders Hotel. I am thinking of ripping off a few lean-to sheds that have been built on it and preserving it as a historical unit. (Note: eventually this building became the little white Bake Shop, which sat beside the old Rough Riders Hotel for many years, and has now been converted to a guest house just down the street to the south of the Hotel.)

The drama, Teddy Roosevelt’s Life in North Dakota, is starting the 26th of June in the Burning Hills Amphitheater. Please keep in mind our past conversation and some summer when you have nothing to do and want a little excitement, spend a few weeks with me in Medora – you play the part of your grandfather and I’ll play the part of Teddy Roosevelt, or one of the cattle rustlers – I think it would be fun. I gave your name to Mr. and Mrs. Andre Richard who plan to visit in France in the next week or two. Andre is the manager of our Andre Richard Division of the Gold Seal Company in New York City. If they happen to be anywhere near you, they may give you a call.


Sincerely yours,
Harold Schafer

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