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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Silent Cal: 1923

Silent Cal: 1923

August 4, 1923. Washington, D.C. "Coolidge and wife." Grace and Calvin Coolidge (wearing a mourning band), two days after his ascension to the presidency following the death of Warren Harding. National Photo Co. View full size.

 

Silent Cal, the comedian

Old joke from the Coolidge presidency:

Two Washington correspondents were talking and one said that he had an interview with President Coolidge the next day. His buddy said, "I'll bet you can't get him to say more than two words."

Next day, at the interview, the reporter asks Coolidge, "Hey, Mr. President, a buddy of mine bet me I couldn't get you to say more than two words. What do you say?"

Coolidge replied, "You lose!"

Amherst Man

This spring I attended, with my son, Admitted Students weekend at Amherst College. The president of the University addressed the gathering in a early nineteenth century New England style meeting hall on campus. The walls were lined with past Amherst Presidents and Cal. The President made a snide swipe at Coolidge noting he wished Cal didn't hang in the hall.

I thought this showed very poor taste, I doubt that you would hear such disparaging remarks at the Naval Academy about Jimmy Carter, no matter his record.

My son, who knew of Coolidge was but had no opinion of him told me he didn't know why Amherst's president was "cracking on one his own."

Compared to Calvin, anyway

The missus was a nice-looking woman, sporting that boho dress.

Mourning Band

On second thought, the black band around Coolidge's left arm that I made light of in an earlier post, is possibly in honor of his son, Calvin, Jr. ...

[As noted in the caption, the mourning band is in honor of Warren Harding, whose death two days earlier elevated Cal to the presidency. - Dave]

Grace and Style

Alice Longworth Roosevelt may have complained that Calvin Coolidge "looked like he was weaned on a pickle," but Grace Goodhue Coolidge was one the most stylish and popular First Ladies in American history, surpassed in those qualities perhaps only by Dolley Madison and Jacqueline Kennedy. Tall, slender and vivacious, Mrs. Coolidge wore couture dresses well and Calvin Coolidge loved seeing her in the latest fashions from Paris. The pseudo-folk embroidery and asymmetrical closure of her dress strongly suggests that this is one of the embroidered silk "Slavic" dresses designed and produced by Coco Chanel in the 1920-1924 period. Here's a Hartsook studio portrait of Mrs. Coolidge in the same dress.

That chain

There is some kind of chain looped through the president's lapel buttonhole and something at the other end of the loop must be in his pocket. What is it?

[Watch fob, as noted below. - Dave]

Weird. I've never seen one attached to the lapel. I guess I was a few decades too late.

"How could they tell?"

When informed in 1933 that Silent Cal had died, Dorothy Parker replied, "How could they tell?" It does look like he has a permanent blood pressure strap on his left arm, so there may have always been a slight question of the fact. Looks like a watch fob attached to his lapel.

Bad Memories

I had a math teacher in high school in the '60s who looked just like Mrs. Coolidge with that icy stare. Ever since then whenever I try to figure out the tip at a restaurant I feel like she's watching me. Creepy.

President Coolidge

For the next pose please use those spectacles in your breast pocket as if you are reading the material.

Strike up the Band.

I'm sure there must be a similar picture of Herbert Hoover also with a mourning band, a day or two after the death of the world economy.

Love the Dress

Can't tell if it's ancient Greece, native Navajo, or flower power Berkeley.

"What do they think I am? Dumb or something?"

"Why, I make more money than Calvin Coolidge ... put together!"

-- Lina Lamont, "Singing in the Rain."

 
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