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
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
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!