Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Journey Ahead . . .

. . . And One Backward

My host of friends, a bunch of three, and a few who haven't surfaced yet, have, along with me, had their say about our new president, wishing him Godspeed in his journey ahead.

That brings me to a journey backward in memory to the first president I can recall. There were three before him that I never heard of until, probably, the first time I began to study history in grammar school.

Those first two were Warren G. Harding, who was president when I was born on Flag Day in 1923 and whose tenure was only 50 days in my lifetime. He died August 2. (You can do the math if you think I'm wrong). The others were Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

I can say I recall Hoover somewhat but only, really, from hearing in my early days that the United States blamed the "great depression" on him. Now I want to say at this point that you need to know I can and sometimes DO mess up my facts because with only a few monhs to go to 86, my aging memory plays tricks on me.

Recall with me that a couple days ago I made reference to Mr. Eddie at the hometown newspaper dubbing me a cub reporter. Well, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, campaigning for the White House, visited the hometown, I then was working at the newspaper.

He spoke long enough in the city center for a photographer to take his picture and get it into the afternoon's early edition along with a reporter's story. I was chosen to deliver a copy of the paper to Mr. Roosevelt.

I was able to shake his hand and hear him say "tell your dad and mom to vote for me." I don't think they did. World War II came along soon after Mr. Roosevelt gained his office for another term.

A few years later, I found myself in the United States Army and on D-Day in Southampton, England. On that historic, rainy and foggy morning just after dawn, I met the General. I was in a line of rear line supply soldiers observing ship loading when the General came into view, saying thank you over and over to anybody he passed while inspecting combat troops.

A man who later was called Ike in the newspapers, was at that time General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Tech 4 stripes on my uniform not matching the four stars on his shoulder, I snapped a salute as the future president said "thank you soldier" and strode along the ranks. No handshake.

The next president's hand I shook was that of President Harry Truman when on a campaign tour. The president, had taken over the office at the death of President Roosevelt and was running for a full term.

President John F. Kennedy I knew as a reporter when he was a lesser figure in politics, enough so that I could, like other reporters, call him Jack. In my same reporterial capacity I also met on a few occasions his future bride, Jacqueline Bouvier.

There came a succession of presidents after President Kennedy, none of whom I knew other than by name until I was a resident in my present locale

President George Walker Bush, now our most recent former president, spoke to 20,000 or so people here while on the campaign trail for his second term. With my wonderful wife at my side, I got a good view of President Bush from about 150 feet away, but - no handshake.

Now, I seem to tote up the swearing-ins of presidents during my lifetime at 21 or 22. Yarntangler helped me count 'em and we both came up with different figures.

We were not (and still aren't) sure if ascending to office from the vice preidency in the several instances through the years counted as inaugurations. I am going to leave it up to you folks (again) to do the math.

- 30 -

Old Newsie


  1. This should be an exciting time for you and other Diamond Agers as you reflect on the changes you have seen brought to you by all of those Presidents. I know it will be a challenging and important time for us.

  2. Interesting stories. I can remember as far back as Kennedy. I think he was in North Adams when I was a kid, running for Congress.

  3. "Swearing in" and inaugaration would be two different things. I could be wrong in this. I remember a well known Photograph of the then Vice President being sworn in as the new President on an airplane with the Assassinated Presidents Widow in attendance.

    On a separate note, my Father was born Aug 3, 1923. He was a "cub" Photographer in Chicago while also working for the Chicago Public works chasing sewer polluters, in WWII he "safely" dismantled old chemical depots at various Forts, then on to the South Pacific and Japan.

    Townsend, Ma.

  4. I feel very blessed to know you Grandfather. I think you should write a blog about how you've seen technology grow - especially airplanes. Did you ever think when you were little that a jumob jet would land safely in the Hudson river after having both its engines knocked out by a flock of geese? How does goose sound for Easter?

  5. I remember being a little girl on my dad's shoulders in Levittown PA when John Kennesy came to town campaiging for the Presidency. He looked out into the crowd and called out Charlie Hoye as his friend of years ago. He reached over and handed me a bouquet of flowers from his convertible. Mom and Dad let me stay up to watch the electiomn results that took all night.
    My next election was when I campaigned for George McGovern. I walked door to door in Chicopee MA while attending college there. I campaigned for Bill Cllinton twice and this year for Hilary Clinton even becoming a Precinct Captain.
    I hold my opion of Obama until he proves himself. He has made a good start but so did George Bush in the short days following 9/11.
    The long run is what will tell us if he is words or substance. I wish him well and am happy to see that the first biracial President is a positive roll modell for young families everywhere.