Tag Archives: History

Hail To The Chiefs!

Well, it’s President’s Day again, and time to pay homage to those 44 fellas who have occupied the office of President of these United States.

This holiday began as a celebration of the birthday of Old #1, George Washington, way back in 1879. But these days it is a celebration of all of our Presidents. As such, we bring you a few interesting tidbits about them.

  • Speaking of the Father of our Country, despite popular myth, his teeth weren’t made of wood; they were made of gold, lead, animal teeth, and ivory from elephant and walrus tusks.
  • In addition to being the date on which we celebrate the founding of our nation, the Fourth of July has importance to four of our Presidents: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (#2 and #3) both died on July 4th 1826. #5, James Monroe, died on July 4th, 1831. And Calvin Coolidge (#30) was born on July 4th 1872.
  • Wondering about #4? James Madison had the distinction of being the shortest President at 5 foot 4, and he weighed less than 100 pounds. Lincoln (#16) was the tallest at 6 foot 4.
  • #12, Zachary Taylor, never voted for President.
  • Andrew Johnson (#17) was drunk at his inauguration…and why not?
  • In addition to being the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms (making him #22 and #24), Grover Cleveland also was the legal guardian of an 11-year-old girl, married her 10 years later, and made her the youngest First Lady at age 21. He also had an artificial jaw made of vulcanized rubber.
  • William Henry Taft (# 27) was our weightiest President at 332 lbs. After leaving office, he lost 150 lbs., as well as becoming  the only ex-president to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • #29, Warren Harding bet the White House china in a poker game…and lost it in one hand. Oh yeah, and his middle name was “Gamaliel”. Hard to believe people don’t name their kids that anymore.
  • Another tidbit about Calvin Coolidge (#30): he had a morning ritual in which someone rubbed Vaseline on his head while he ate breakfast in bed. Try it! It’s fun, and healthy!
  • Herbert Hoover (#31) and his wife learned to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently, and would speak it around the White House to prevent others from understanding them.

There are lots more, as every President has had quirks, foibles, and downright faults. That’s important to remember in these tumultuous times: Presidents are human (generally) and as such, have human flaws. Fortunately, the Republic is strong and resilient. Despite every effort to bungle, destroy, or otherwise besmirch the office, the Republic soldiers on.

So, on this day of remembrance, pick out your favorite Prez and pour one out for your homie. Unless it’s Andrew Johnson…he might object to the wasting of alcohol.


Today’s Fact Cetera

After becoming the first President to not get his own party’s nomination for a second term, he got  drunk, got on a horse, and ran over a woman.


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Tempus Fugit

There are all sorts of “interesting” things about aging. Having just experienced a birthday, it is perhaps not surprising that one’s thoughts turn to the passage of time. More to the point, the speed of that passage.

As I age, the sensation that time is passing more rapidly is growing at an alarming rate. Has it really been 10 years since Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone? 20 years since Jurassic Park was released? 30 years since the Challenger disaster? 40 years since I graduated from college? And can it really be 50 years since The Beatles’ last public concert?


Though new to me, this time-is-accelerating phenomenon has apparently been recognized for years…127 years to be exact.

According to Scientific American, “Psychologist William James, in his 1890 text Principles of Psychology, wrote that as we age, time seems to speed up because adulthood is accompanied by fewer and fewer memorable events. When the passage of time is measured by “firsts” (first kiss, first day of school, first family vacation), the lack of new experiences in adulthood, James morosely argues, causes ‘the days and weeks [to] smooth themselves out…and the years grow hollow and collapse.’”

“Grow hollow and collapse”? Geez Billy, thanks for the glad tidings.

I suppose that — like arthritis and hair loss — this is another minor ordeal that comes with the ever-increasing numbers attached to another birthday.

Yet, as I am reminded by a friend of mine, it beats the alternative.


Today’s Fact Cetera

The youngest pope was 11 years old.


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Independence Day

No, not the movie…or its sequel. It’s the Fourth of July in America.

As noted in RonnBlogs past, this day celebrates the Declaration of Independence, a document that continues to inspire and impress.

Say what you will about the Founding Fathers (these days, the majority of which is quite bogus), they knew their way around the written word. Most Americans are familiar with phrases such as “When in the Course of human events…” and “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”. But for sheer sentence power, check this one out:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Interesting use of capitalization notwithstanding, that’s some Class-A scribblin’, fellas. Well played.

Of course, not all of the folks present at the birth of our nation were so sophisticated in their writing. Not much has changed.

Compare and contrast these recent examples of writing from current presidential contenders:

Everyone knows I am right that Robert Pattinson should dump Kristen Stewart. In a couple of years, he will thank me. Be smart, Robert.

Let’s make America a world leader in manufacturing, again.


Do not throw away your shot. Win tickets to see @HamiltonMusical with Hillary.

Iron Mike Tyson was not asked to speak at the Convention though I’m sure he would do a good job if he was. The media makes everything up!

Two words: free WiFi.

Stirring stuff. Hard to believe that with such soaring rhetoric so few people actually take the time to vote.

Despite the drop in writing quality, I still believe this is a pretty great country. Lots of opportunity for improvement, to be sure. But on this day, I’m choosing to be grateful. Not so much for current political blather, but for the staying power of the original words so brilliantly written in 1776.


Today’s Fact Cetera

The Bill of Rights is stated in 463 words.
 A recent federal directive to regulate the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words.


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50 Years Ago Today

For people of a certain age, the mere mention of certain words still trigger memories of a defining event in their lives.

Dealey Plaza…the grassy knoll…Parkland Memorial Hospital…the Texas School Book Depository.

Half a century later, those words from Dallas still resonate, forever connected with the day we realized that the world was a dangerous and unpredictable place, where change came quickly and without warning. Where the world was one way, and then different one moment later.

Most remember where they were when they heard the shocking news; they remember their initial thoughts, feelings and words.

And they remember a young President who was gone far too soon, and far too violently.

One brief moment on a sunny day in Dallas, things changed for all of us, never to return to the way they were.


Today’s Fact Cetera

President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby all died at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

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