100 Years Ago Today: Airedales Are Kings Among Dogs

Herald Democrat, March 12, 1919

Today, dogs perform dozens of specialized services for people, such as the work of Autism Assistance Dogs, Veteran Service Dogs, Brace/Mobility Support Dogs, Avalanche Rescue Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dog, and many more. But back in 1919, the idea that dogs could be trained to perform such highly skillful tasks, beyond their known abilities as retrievers during a hunt, was relatively new.

The Airedale Terrier was one of the first breeds identified as capable of learning such tasks, and they proved themselves invaluable to the British as well as German Armed Forces in World War I, performing vital services like finding wounded soldiers, carrying messages across the front lines, and acting as guard dogs. Perhaps it was their reputation in this last skill that led the Holly Sugar Company to use Airedales as watch dogs for their sugar factory in Swink, Colorado in today’s article.

Swink Sugar Factory of the Holly Sugar Company
Courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Department

The Airedale has been used more especially for guarding purposes. The peculiarly faithful and sagacious nature of the breed, combined with its adaptability to every circumstance where it may be required, whether it be the farmer’s yard, the factory, or a lady’s drawing-room, makes it very useful indeed.

Edwin Hautenville Richardson, from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management

Airedales originated in the Aire Valley of northern England near the Scottish border during the mid-1800s. The Aire Valley was primarily a manufacturing town, and the mill and factory workers who lived there wanted to breed a tough, biddable dog to hunt rats that infested the area, as well as a dog that could retrieve ducks during a hunt. According to the AKC, the Airedale originated as a cross between several breeds, including the Otterhound for its sense of smell, the now-extinct Black and Tan Terriers for their desire to learn, and the Irish and Bedlington Terriers for their alertness.

 The Western Front's dogs of war revealed
Lt. Col. Richardson in the trenches with one of his dogs

During WWI, under the training guidance of British Lieutenant Colonel, Edwin Hautenville Richardson, the Airedale was introduced as one of the first War Dogs for the Allied side. Ironically, Richardson was made aware of the potential of war dogs by the Germans, who were training dogs to find wounded soldiers as early as 1914.

from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management
by Edwin Hautenville Richardson

Despite the British military’s reluctance to catch on to the value of war dogs, Lt. Col. Richardson and his wife, Blanche, set up the British War Dogs Training School at Shoeburyness, Essex, where they trained hundreds of dogs.

“[Airedales] are very determined. They’re very single-minded and there’s no stopping them.

Lt. Col. Edwin Hautenville Richardson
Airedales in the Red Cross uniform and carrying a messenger bag

Thousands of Airedales, as well as other breeds, were trained as messengers, sentries, and guards for the British Armed Forces. Messages were put in tins around the necks of dogs and they were identified by a scarlet collar or tally. Wendy Turner, secretary of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland said, “Red Cross used them as first aid carriers, they had a little package on their neck with medication in it and everything, and they were used for going out and finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield.”

Airedales were even taught to wear gas masks so that they could serve in the trenches on the front lines.

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Airedales wearing gas masks in WWI training

Jack, an Airedale British War Dog, was one of the most heroic service dogs in WWI. In 1918, Jack’s battalion, an advanced unit of the Sherwood Foresters, was completely trapped by German forces who had blown huge mortar shell holes behind the Allies. In front of them was a line of impenetrable barbed wire.

The Foresters were doomed, and Jack was their only hope of summoning reinforcements. The Airedale was sent to the deliver a message past the Germans to the next Allied line behind them. Jack suffered grave wounds during his mission. His jaw was shattered by shrapnel and a shell ripped down his back, but he kept going for another mile and a half. He saved his battalion, but Jack died soon after delivering his message.

Historic film footage of war dogs in the trenches of WWI

Presidents who have owned Airedales include Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. Author John Steinbeck also had an Airedale. The 1919 Best in Show was won by an Airedale.

100 Years Ago Today: Women Vying for Fire Lookout Jobs

Fort Collins Courier, March 11, 1919

The first woman ever hired as a Fire Lookout by the U.S. Forest Service was Hallie Morse Daggett, who was the Lookout at Eddy’s Gulch Lookout Station atop Klamath Peak in Klamath National Forest in Northern California, starting in 1913, when the Lookout log cabin seen below was first built. She stayed on board there as Fire Lookout for 14 years.

Hallie M. Daggett and her pack horse ready to leave the Eddy Gulch Station in the fall.
Hallie M. Daggett at the Eddy’s Gulch Lookout Station in California

A full page, illustrated article about Hallie Daggett ran in Colorado’s Wet Mountain Tribune on October 30, 1914, and other mentions of the “Only Woman Forest Fire Lookout” appear in newspapers across the country in the years leading up to 1919, so today’s article about women applying for Colorado Fire Lookout positions may have been sparked by Daggett. However, women applying for these positions were in for an uphill climb.

To get a sense of the discrimination Daggett was facing at that time, consider the following recommendation she received from Assistant Fire Ranger, Mr. M. H. McCarthy, who writes of Daggett:

The wide-awake woman of 30 years…is absolutely devoid of the timidity which is ordinarily associated with her sex as she is not afraid of anything that walks, creeps, or flies.

M. H. McCarthy in a letter to W.B. Rider, Supervisor of Klamath Forest
Groundhouse with woman LO
Woman standing beside the Twin Sisters Fire Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park in 1919

Daggett was not only one of the only female Fire Lookouts in the country, but she was also one of a handful of women doing any kind of field work for the Forest Service at that time, and indeed for the next several decades. Women were hired by the Forest Service almost entirely as office clerks and educators, and some men wouldn’t even hire women for that.

The employment of women clerks in the Supervisor’s office was not looked upon with favor and the policy was established to employ men only the idea being that a woman clerk could not handle the “rough” work required in the administration of a forest, such as assembling and shipping fire tools, rustling fire fighters, etc. Such work properly was for a “two fisted” ranger or forest officer. However, it was not long before it became apparent that there was another element in forest officers’ work which had not been taken into consideration. That was paper work: reports, letters to forest users, etc. Such work proved to be too much for the “two fisted” rangers and supervisors.

Albert Cousins, U.S. Forest Service

Some other women cutting through Forest Service sexism in this era were Edith R. Mosher, Founder of Environmental Education in the Forest Service, who entered the Forest Service in 1902, and Margaret March-Mount who was a conservation educator for the Bighorn and Shoshone National Forests.

The WWII era would provide more opportunities for women in the Forest Service, but this was not exactly due to a sudden equality in gender politics; rather, it was due to an increased need to fill positions vacated by men enlisted in military service. It wasn’t until the women’s movement of the 1960s-70s that the Forest Service was challenged to change its hiring practices in fieldwork positions such as Fire Fighters and Forest Rangers, as well as leadership roles like Chief Forester.

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Twin Sisters Fire Lookout, 1916
Courtesy National Park Service

Today’s headline refers to the Twin Sisters Fire Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park, which was a 7 x 7 foot wooden fire lookout, built by the Forest Service in 1914 under direction from fire guard, H.G. Knowles. In 1925, the National Parks Service took over operation of the Fire Lookout.

The Lookout was the highest in RMNP, at 11,436′ atop Twin Sisters Mountains. It was lined with glass windows that were always under threat from high winds, but it was a great location to view the forests below 14er Longs Peak and the nearby town of Allenspark. Inside the Lookout was a map of the area used to pinpoint the location of a fire, and a telephone to call in the fire.

Stone house residence, 1925
Twin Sisters Stone Residence in 1925

If you were hired as the new Fire Lookout of Twin Sisters, first you had to get to work, which involved a four-mile hike up a trail that gained 2,300 feet. That’s steep! Once you reached the summit of Twin Sisters, you were greeted by your new home, a squat 10 x 12′ stone structure with a bunk bed and a fireplace.

The original Fire Lookout and Stone Residence
Courtesy National Parks Service

The house was built of “uncoursed fieldstone and mortar,” with the stone sourced from the area surrounding the house. According to the National Register of Historic Places, “the arched or box-car roof represents an important trend in Colorado architecture during the period when the Forest Service constructed this building.” This arched roof was a popular design during WWI construction projects.

The house functioned as a living quarters for those stationed at the Fire Lookout until 1969, at which time it was converted into a radio repeater station and storage unit. Although the Lookout has been taken down, the living quarters remains today.

Walter E. Kiener, a Swiss mountain climber, lived in the shelter house in the 1920s as a research biologist. He lost every finger except one and all of
Walter E. Kiener, famed climber of Longs Peak, also served as Fire Lookout for the 1926 fire season
Twin Sisters Fire Lookout Shelter House, today

100 Years Ago Today: Hugo Frey’s Odyssey

Fort Collins Courier, March 5, 1919
Hugo Frey in Navy uniform
From his memoir, Hugo’s Odyssey

Meg Dunn, who writes at the excellent history website, Northern Colorado History, has an in-depth article on Hugo Frey here, so I’ll just cover some highlights of his life, but definitely check out her writing, especially her five-part series on the rise of the KKK in Colorado in the 1920s.

Hugo Evon Frey’s story takes place over three distinct chapters: South Sea Navy Adventures, Colorado Public Figure, and California Newsman. He writes extensively about his time in the Navy in his memoir, Hugo’s Odyssey, a nod to the Homeric epic, which he published in 1942.

South Sea Navy Adventures

He joined the Navy during Teddy Roosevelt’s term in office (1901-1909), when the president was building the country’s naval force under the motto, “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Frey was a Chief Quartermaster in Aviation, if I’m reading his rating correctly: Chf. Q. M. Av.

Frey was stationed in Pago Pago, Samoa for several of the most formative years of his life. He regularly interacted with people he’d never have seen in Fort Collins, such as cannibals, native tribal leaders, and publicly nude people. But above all, he had adventures that would supply him with a lifetime of stories, like swimming races, haunted caves, an octopus attack, and learning the language of the Samoan people.

Hugo Frey in Samoa
From Hugo’s Odyssey

Frey later gave public talks to the people of Fort Collins about his time in Samoa, according to articles written 10 or so years after his service. During U.S. involvement in WWI (1917-1918), he urged his audiences to enlist in the Navy as soon as the country was enrolling again. This was advice he’d take up himself in a few months, with unforeseen consequences.

Colorado Public Figure

After returning to the states, Hugo Frey moved back to Fort Collins where he held several positions in the public sphere, notably as a Justice of the Peace and as a Judge. Despite his formal position, Frey was not above taking justice into his own hands, literally, when he reportedly punched a man who defamed and spit on the flag.

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Weekly Courier, June 30, 1916

Frey was also a curious businessman who heard about the burgeoning industry of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals like Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, and Corn Flakes, and the rise of cereal manufacturing companies like Post, Kellogg’s, and Quaker Oats. His idea was to use alfalfa, a grain introduced to Colorado by John Brisben Walker, as the primary ingredient in his cereal. The idea never quite panned out, perhaps because alfalfa is only delicious to rabbits and cows.

On September 18, 1918, at age 35, Frey enlisted in the WWI draft. He could not have known that the war would be over in less than two months, which makes what happened next that much more devastating. He was soon sent to the Naval Station Great Lakes in northern Illinois, which trained 125,000 sailors during the Great War, including the famous composer and band leader, Lt. John Philip Sousa. After arriving at the Navy’s only boot camp, Frey received vaccinations that would leave him “invalid” for almost two years.

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Building 1 at Naval Station Great Lakes

However, by 1920, despite having been “at the point of death for many months,” Hugo Frey was on the road to recovery. He was also on the road to California (shout out to my OC heads), where he would receive further treatment for his illness.

California Newsman

Frey, along with his wife Ada and their two kids, lived out the rest of his life in Long Beach, California, where Frey wrote for the local paper, the Long Beach Telegram.

He wrote his memoir, Hugo’s Odyssey, in 1942, perhaps in another effort to help boost support for Naval enlistment in WWII, or maybe because he just wanted to share his adventures in Samoa with the world. Hugo Frey died in 1962 in California at the age of 78.

100 Years Ago Today: Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival

Record Journal of Douglas, February 7, 1919

In honor of the 106th annual Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival, running from February 6th-10th, 2019, here’s an announcement of the Carnival from 100 years ago, albeit one with a misspelling (taurnament?) and misinformation — I think the “top notch professionals” were trying to *raise* the world record jump, not lower it.

In 1912, ski pioneer and champion, Carl Howelsen, aka The Flying Norseman, significantly contributed to the success of the first winter carnival in Colorado at Hot Sulphur Springs, where the Carnival was held for two years. Howelsen, the former Barnum & Bailey star, amazed the crowd there by jumping 119 feet in 1913, which was a new Colorado record.

Captain Carl Howelsen’s Barnum & Bailey poster

But Howelsen’s heart was ultimately won over by the beauty and charm of Steamboat Springs, 70 miles to the northwest of Hot Sulphur Springs along the Moffat Road. He relocated from Denver to Steamboat, where he organized the Carnival for the next few years and established it as an essential mid-winter celebration that was held even through the dark years of WWI. Today there is a statue of Howelsen at Howelsen Place in Steamboat.

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Carl Howelsen

Howelsen also started the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which is still thriving today. He built the first ski jump in Steamboat on Woodchuck Hill, which is where Colorado Mountain College now stands. He then built the ski jumps that stand today at what is now called Howelsen Hill, and they continue to be used at the Winter Carnival.

Ski jumper at Howelsen Hill, with Woodchuck Hill in the background

Early Winter Carnival events included ski jumping exhibitions and competitions, nordic ski races, the crowning of Carnival Queen, a proto-biathlon ski/shooting event, and a Norwegian drag-hunt where hunters follow a ghost deer’s man made tracks until they find him and kill him. I presume nobody was actually sacrificed in this hunt?

Today, the Carnival events include the traditions of ski jumping competitions, the crowning of Carnival Queen, and nordic ski races, with the addition of standout newer traditions. These include a host of street events, where they shut down Lincoln Ave and pack it with snow. Street events include ski joring where kids on skis get pulled by horses down the road, three legged races, and shovel races. Other signature events are a marching band on skis and a night extravaganza where a person ensconsed in lights skis down Howelsen Hill shooting off fireworks from their body.

100 years ago today the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival was establishing itself as the premier event of its kind thanks to the work of Carl Howelsen, ski pioneer and ambassador, and the Carnival continues to thrive in Steamboat today.

100 Years Ago Today: Bolshevism and Breckenridge

Summit County Journal, February 1, 1919

Naively, I thought I could brush up on Bolshevism, the Russian Revolution, Communism, the Red Army, Anarchism, and the I.W.W. circa 1919 in a couple of hours in order to write up some context for today’s article. This, despite the fact that the last time I learned about any of these topics I was spending my free time listening to Korn and skateboarding through mall parking lots in JNCOs. Nope nope nope.

What I do know is that anti-Bolshevism op-ed and news articles pop up nearly every day in 1919 newspapers, so the anxiety on display in today’s article is not surprising.

What is Bolshevism and why are there so many articles opposed to it?

The Bolsheviks were a group started in Russia by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky in order to bring Marxism to Russia and beyond. Bolshevism was later known as Communism, an attempt to create a classless society where everyone is equal.

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Vladimir Lenin
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Leon Trotsky

Frank Engels, coauthor of the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, lays out the aims of Communism as such:

“Finally, when all capital, all production, all exchange have been brought together in the hands of the nation, private property will disappear of its own accord, money will become superfluous, and production will so expand and man so change that society will be able to slough off whatever of its old economic habits may remain.”

The Communist Manifesto (1847)

Why did Bolshevism have so much opposition in the U.S.?

Communism/Bolshevism and Capitalism are, of course, at odds with one another, and the two political/economic systems have not played well with one another over the last 100 years.

There has always been, and probably always will be, people who have been crushed by Capitalism and would like to try a different system. Bolshevism is a promise to the lowest wage earners, the most overlooked, the least powerful people in a Capitalist system that they will have just as much as their former employers under a new system.

Today’s article posits that Bolshevism falsely promises that the “ordinary man would remain safe.” But what if you’re not safe at all in a Capitalist country? What if you’re an immigrant working the Ludlow, CO coal mines? What if you’re a woman with limited work opportunities? What if you’re a soldier returning from war to an impoverished small town? These are people who might decide that Capitalism isn’t keeping them safe, and maybe their country should give Bolshevism a try.

In the U.S. in 1919, the workforce was in transition. World War I ended with the armistice on November 11, 1918, and young soldiers were coming home, not knowing what kinds of jobs were available, nor if they were qualified for them. In many instances, women had taken jobs that men had done before they went overseas, and in Colorado, immigrants had taken work in the mines because these very dangerous positions were some of the only jobs people would actually hire them for. Would this transitional period make people more likely to ask for a different economic system? Maybe one with more parity?

Bolshevism was on everyone’s tongue. Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky were masters of propaganda, and they capably spread their idea of overthrowing the ruling class in order to bring “peace, land, and bread” back to the starving working class in Russia and throughout the entire world. Bolshevism was one of the hottest buzz words in the entire world in 1919, and that scared the hell out of people who were safe and secure and powerful because it could mean losing everything they’d worked for.

News reports of Bolshevist uprisings in Europe were covered daily in newspapers. Many articles conflated Anarchism with Bolshevism and lumping those two incongruous movements together. The Bolshevik uprisings in countries were sometimes violent, and newspapers played that aspect up as well, likely because fear sells papers.

Indeed, Anarchism would be a cause for very real fear later in April 1919, when Anarchists called Galleanists (followers of Luigi Galleani) mailed 36 dynamite filled bombs to prominent political figures and other people with power throughout the U.S.. Then in June 1919, eight larger bombs were detonated simultaneously outside homes and offices of other prominent figures.

100 years ago today, Bolshevism was the dangerous buzzword around the globe, even in the small mining town of Breckenridge, CO. Fear of this new economic/political system was all over the news, and the post-war transitional instability in the workforce made Bolshevism seem like it could be coming to a city, town, or government near you.

100 Years Ago Today: Chevrons Causing Trouble

Akron Weekly Pioneer Press, January 31, 1919

Chevrons are making headlines again! Today’s post is a follow up to a previous article filed under ‘100 Years Ago Today’ about chevrons called Marks of Service, which concludes with the author pleading to its readers:

“The man who displays any of the chevrons…has done his full duty by his country and is worthy of honor.”

Cheyenne Record, Volume 7, Number 44, January 23, 1919

Apparently the message didn’t hold water for many people reached out to their Congressmen over the “discrimination” of the distinction of gold vs. silver chevrons, complaining that their service stateside was not their choice but their assignment, and they gladly would have served on the front lines instead.

Gold Chevrons:

A single gold chevron for each wound received in service in the Theater of Operations (mostly France) is worn on the forearm of the right sleeve. This chevron is placed pointing downward.

2 Types of Gold Chevrons.jpg
Gold chevrons

Silver Chevrons:

A single silver chevron for each complete six month’s service in the United States is worn on the forearm of the left sleeve. This chevron is placed pointing downward. 

Silver Chevron

Republican House Representative, John C. McKenzie, (who held that position from 1911-1925), gets a looooong quote in this page three opinion piece, saying that Congress may need to prohibit certain chevrons, but I can’t find any evidence that this was actually brought to lawmakers, nor that it was passed. Rep. McKenzie does offer an interesting solution to the problem, namely that chevrons should only be worn by those who “served in actual fighting” and “clearly risked their lives.”

But what is “actual fighting” and what does it mean to “clearly” risk your life? The article’s author rebuts with a nod to the air servicemen who trained pilots stateside. I imagine their job being akin to a Drivers Ed teacher, except your students are flying primitive airplanes thousands of feet above the ground. Clear risk? Check!

Also, Rep McKenzie, what’s up with the shaming of the army field clerks who according to you, “dodged real military service”? Does the military not have important clerking to be done? Records to keep? Messages to send? Shout out to the clerks!

Regardless of whether Rep. McKenzie’s solution is appropriate, the problem was very real to servicemen after the War. I like the following explanation of hierarchy that was causing the rift:

“There was a clear hierarchy for these left sleeve service chevrons: silver were the lowest ranking and could not be worn by anyone entitled to wear either a single blue chevron or for anyone entitled to wear gold chevrons(s). The next rung was the single blue chevron, showing less than 6 months in the theater of operations. Anyone with more than six months service was to wear a gold chevron for each 6 months in the theater of operations. Thus World War I uniforms should exist only with one or more silver chevrons, one blue chevron, or one or more gold chevrons.”


I’m also intrigued by the way that the editorial cartoon highlights the problem of untreated anxiety servicemen were dealing with post-WWI.

The poor fella on the right who can’t get the ladies wears two silver chevrons, meaning he served stateside for at least 12 months but not more than 17 months, while the (pipe smoking?) gent on the left served at least six month but not more than 11 months abroad.

Pfft, AND he was probably a clerk. Kudos to the cartoonist for the inclusion of the word GOLD in all caps on the woman’s shoulder to let us know her man’s chevron color. Very subtle.

The anxieties I’m seeing in the cartoon include: Can I find a partner? Will anyone want me after my service? Should I wear my military uniform? Is this attracting people or repelling them? Why is everyone else getting the attention I want? Why is it so hard being lonely? How can I improve my status when it’s printed on my sleeve?

100 years ago today, chevrons became a point of contention for former service members, symbolizing the anxiety over status in 20th century America, to the point that Congress members were thinking of making laws to legislate chevron wearing.

100 Years Ago Today: Pithy News, Woman Dreams of Teddy Roosevelt’s Death

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Moffat County Courier, Number 24, January 30, 1919

Let me get this right. A woman in Moffat County, Colorado had a dream that The Old Lion, The Rough Rider, The Bull Moose, T. R., The Trust Buster, The Hero of San Juan Hill, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the 26th President of the United States, died in his sleep at the young age of 60 years old? Oh come on now, Mrs. Sarah Lewis!

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Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir at Glacier Point in Yosemite (1903)

Teddy can survive anything! He was shot in 1912 while giving a speech and kept talking. He explored the River of Doubt, contracted malaria, and lived. He charged through heavy fire at the battle of Kettle Hill and survived. He…wait what? He died in his sleep on January 6, 1919 due to a pulmonary embolism (where a blood clot gets caught in one of the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs)?

Indeed, the entire country was so shocked to hear of Col. Roosevelt’s death, that only a dream premonition could have foretold it, which is probably why the Moffat County Courier ran this dream story on the SECOND PAGE of its newspaper 100 years ago today.

Sagamore Hill house near Oyster Bay where Theodore Roosevelt died

Another interesting nugget that shouldn’t be slept on is the cosign of her son, George Lewis, notably of the Mountain Division of the American Red Cross. The inclusion of his position lends credence to her story because of how revered the Red Cross was during the Great War. Indeed, Woodrow Wilson publicly called upon the American people to back the organization throughout the war.

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. The first Colorado-based chapter of the Red Cross started in 1914, known as the Pikes Peak Chapter. The Mountain Division of the Red Cross was then established, comprised of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. In the years before the U.S. joined the war, the Red Cross was sending doctors, nurses, and medical supplies to war ravaged European countries. They also called on women (and men) stateside to help make socks and sweaters for the soldiers in volunteer groups called the Production Corps.

American Red Cross historical poster 

100 years ago today, Mrs. Sarah Lewis, the mother of George Lewis who worked for the lauded Red Cross in Colorado, had a nighmare/premonition that the seemingly impossible had happened: ex-president Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep, but two days later the truth came out — the impossible had happened, and Roosevelt was dead of a pulmonary embolism.