Presidential Ponderings

By: David Smyth, February 22, 2018

I know many of you are starting to look forward to Spring Break, especially with the beautiful weather we were blessed with on Monday for Presidents' Day. Schools here in Fayette County were out for the day, so I took the opportunity to spend some good outside time with my three boys. Parks, putt-putt, hot dogs and lots of laughs made for some great family time. 
 
Given my chosen profession, when I think of presidents, I often think of money. Now, I know most of us never see actual cash anymore, but from George Washington on the $1 and Abe Lincoln on the $5 to the more obscure ones, like William McKinley on the $500, or Grover Cleveland on the $1,000, James Madison on the $5,000 and Woodrow Wilson on the $100,000 (if you have one of these, please, call me) - well, I love my presidential flashcards. (You too, Franklin and Hamilton!)
 
While there's a lot of discourse (discord?) right now about the current holder of that office, I got to thinking about some of the US leaders who've faded into the cobwebs of history. Sure, we all know the story about Washington and the cherry tree, the Emancipation Proclamation, Hiroshima, Watergate, and Obamacare (I hope). We all know Lincoln and Kennedy were assassinated. But can you name the other two? (Hint: Garfield and McKinley.) 
 
But what about the others, or some of the lesser known facts about the famous ones? I decided to do a little research and find out some more about these guys. For example, did you know that contrary to popular belief, Washington's false teeth weren't wooden. They were made of a mixture of ivory and other materials and probably looked wooden due to his taste for red wine. I knew we had a lot in common! (The wine, not the teeth. Just to make that clear.)
 
I also found out that we can all thank Thomas Jefferson for the daily comfort that is the swivel chair. Apparently, he drafted the Declaration of Independence on this new contraption of his.
 
Did you know that three US presidents died on the Fourth of July? I knew John Adams and Jefferson died on that day in 1826, but Monroe followed five years later. Kind of eerie, don't you think? (Calvin Coolidge is the only president born on July 4, if you're wondering.)
 
Apparently John Quincy Adams liked to skinny dip, and an enterprising reporter once sat on his clothes until he granted an interview. Coolidge kept pet raccoons, and Herbert Hoover's son had a couple of pet alligators on the White House grounds. Early security detail perhaps? Martin Van Buren was the first president who was born in the United States. 
 
Possibly the coolest POTUS we've ever had, Teddy Roosevelt was the first leader to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite being known as the tough-as-nails leader of the Rough Riders and founder of the modern Navy who once gave a speech with a bullet in his chest, he had a soft heart. When his wife and mother both died on the same day - Valentine's Day - he wrote in his journal that "the light has gone out of my life." And for all you kiddos out there, the Teddy Bear came to popularity after he reportedly refused to shoot a bear cub on a hunting trip. (Thankfully, the "Billy Possum," manufactured by toy companies during William H. Taft's term, did not catch on.)
 
As you can see from all this, I think one thing we can all agree on is that, in one way or another, all our presidents had a little crazy in them. Back then, news just traveled slower. Of course these days, you have to be crazy to even want to be president, right?
 
However you and your kiddos spent the Presidents' Day break, it seems the dreary weather is now back to stay. I encourage you to have some fun with your kids while you're stuck inside and find out some other fun things about past presidents - trust me, even the boring ones did some cool stuff! And if any you have some extra Benjamins lying around - or you know someone who does - please, let us know. We're always here to help, and your referrals are the best compliment we can receive. 
 

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