The President with 5 Stars Also Had Wings

President Dwight Eisenhower first president with a pilot license
President Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you are looking for a poster child for “overachiever” you might consider Dwight D. Eisenhower.

This Kansas farm boy rose from modest beginnings to become one of only five Americans to achieve the five-star rank of General of the Army and the only one of those to become President of the United States. (see note below) Continue reading

The Ultimate Rental House Fixer-Upper

White House Truman renovation

As President Harry Truman’s daughter, Margaret, played the piano one day, she was startled as one leg of the piano suddenly dropped through the floor of the White House residential level. Engineers were called in to see what was going on, and the report was nothing short of alarming.

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Royal Bill Referral

Calvin Coolidge send bill to King of England

President Calvin Coolidge was forced to move out of the White House in 1927 for six months so extensive remodeling and repairs could take place. In the course of the repairs, the architect showed the president the extreme damage that had occurred to the rafters when the White House was burned by British troops during the War of 1812.

The architect insisted that the rafters be replaced and asked whether the new rafters should be wood or steel beams. Coolidge was notoriously thrifty but ultimately decided in favor of the more durable option. He justified the extra expense, declaring, “All right. Put in the steel beams and send the bill to the King of England.”

Boller, P. F. (2007). Presidential Anecdotes (p. 244). Philadelphia: Running Press.

Hollywood Inspiration Changes History

Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr "Code of the Secret Service" Ronald Reagan
Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr (right) thrusts President Ronald Reagan into a limousine to protect him from an assassination attempt.

On March 31, 1981 Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr helped change the course of history as he acted to save President Ronald Reagan from an assassination attempt. In doing so, he proved himself equal to the motto of the Secret Service: “Worthy of Trust and Confidence.” Continue reading

Three POTUS Portrayals

"See no evil. Hear no evil. Evil." Ford, Carter, Nixon, Dole
Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon.

Senator Robert Dole, upon seeing a picture of former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon lined up at an official event, pointed them out and identified them, in turn, as “See no Evil. Hear no Evil. And Evil.”

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The Torch Has Been Passed … And Possibly Caused a Fire

"Hot words" Eisenhower to Kennedy fire at podium
John F. Kennedy takes the oath of office on January 20, 1961, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower looks on. Photo credit

The world watched the peaceful transfer of power on January 20, 1961, as the oldest President to that point, Dwight D. Eisenhower, handed the reins of power to the youngest elected President, John F. Kennedy.

As the two men stood side-by-side on the inaugural platform, listening as Cardinal Richard Cushing prayed the invocation, they noticed smoke billowing from the podium. An electrical short sparked and nearly started a fire that would have required the hurried evacuation of the entire United States federal government from the crowded platform.

Unaware that his successor was about to speak the immortal words, “Let the word go forth from this time and place to friend a foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…,” a bemused Eisenhower leaned over whispered in Kennedy’s ear, “You must have a hot speech.”

Fortunately the electrical problems were resolved before a crisis developed, and the torch was passed, peacefully, as planned.

Ridicule for the Gentleman Cowboy

Theodore Roosevelt "hasten forward quickly there"

Theodore Roosevelt was a man’s man — the very image of individualism, strength, and courage. It is hard to imagine anyone making fun of the man who would become the 26th President of the United States. Continue reading