Hail to the Chiefs!


   Presidents’ Day approaching next week with little or no fanfare.  Our public offices will close for the day in the same spirit as the recent government shut-down.  The post office will close and won’t reopen until the money is surrendered to build a wall.  Wait! No.  I got confused.  I do enjoy getting mail even if it’s just an advertisement or a politician begging me for a dollar or two. 

   Our first president, George Washington, was born on February 22, 1732.  He was such a special guy that we didn’t lump his birthday with the others just a week earlier.  The thing that gets my goat is that, while we consider him our first president, he really wasn’t.  *(Have I lost you yet?  Some people don’t like articles like this and would rather hear about my cat.)  The very first elected president was a man named John Hanson.  He served a one year term under the provisions of the Continental Congress beginning in 1781. The fly in the ointment is that while Hanson was the President, he was so under our first government under the Articles of Confederation.  There were several presidents in the eight years before our second government which was under our present U. S. Constitution.  Washington was sworn in in the year 1789 on a balcony on Wall Street in New York City. 

   Well, instead of spending our time talking about all the presidents and what they did to change the country for better or worse, let’s talk about some of the weirdest bits of presidential trivia I could find!

   Let’s start with Franklin Pierce. Back in 1853, Pierce was allegedly arrested for running over an elderly woman with his horse but got released due to lack of evidence.

Next up is Andrew Johnson, the 17th president, who besides being a governor, vice president, and president, also apprenticed as a tailor. And apparently his training stuck with him because he continued to sew his own suits for his entire life, including his time as president.

   Our 18th President, Hiram Ulysses Grant, loved to smoke. And he wasn’t a pack a day kinda guy. Oh no. Try twenty cigars each day. In fact, people knew he loved smoking so much that after his win at the Battle of Shiloh, he was sent ten thousand boxes of cigarettes. Grant also died of lung cancer in 1885. I am sure that was a surprise

   Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, had the cheesiest inauguration when he was sent a four-foot-wide, two-foot-thick block of cheddar cheese that stuck around the White House until his final public reception when the ultimate cheese wheel was eaten by 10,000 visitors.  (On a side note, I bet no one used the outhouses for quite a while after this occasion.)

  Abraham Lincoln was known for many things, like WRASSLIN’! But did you know he was a licensed bartender and co-owner of a saloon in Springfield, IL called Berry & Lincoln? Yeah, as if he couldn’t get any more interesting.

   The son of our 31st president, Herbert Hoover, had a pair of pet alligators who would actually roam through the White House.  There are tales of the beasts chasing government workers.  That’s a little more interesting than Thomas Jefferson’s pet bears.

   Speaking of “bare“ (and we really weren’t), John Quincy Adams used to enjoy early morning swims in the Potomac River in the nude. Yep, the skinny-dipping commander-in-chief was even confronted by Anne Royall, who sat on his clothes until he granted her an interview. And that’s how she became the first woman to land a presidential interview. You go, Anne Royall!  Maybe Monica Lewinsky learned something from old Anne?

   Ronald Reagan was an actor in Hollywood and made dozens of movies, some which are quite good.  But his career took a nose-dive and had to resort to doing standup comedy in nightclubs. When that didn’t work out, he went into politics.

   Gerald Ford was a college football player.  He earned his money by being a male model.  He made the cover of Confidential magazine when he was very young.

   And finally, we have James Buchanan. What he did wasn’t just interesting, it was awesome. He would buy slaves in Washington, D.C., and then free them in Pennsylvania without people knowing about it.  James Buchanan was a life-long bachelor and had no children but he is related to me through my great-grandmother Serapta Buchanan Goff.  Her great-grandfather was a brother to the president’s father.  If we searched, I am probably just as related to you.

   My mind has been on the coming presidential election of 2020, which is already underway.  While this stage is already filled with prominent men and women who will be fighting tooth and nail to hold the office of president, I have to remember that they are people just like us.  What weird idiosyncrasies do they have hidden behind their pantsuits and expensive Italian garments? Hillary puts her pantsuits on one leg at a time, just like you, should you happen to wear pantsuits.  We are equal.  Except for Jimmy Carter. This guy is 94 years-old and still out building houses for the unfortunate!  What a guy!

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