February 17, 2017

President's Day Precedence

President's Day Precedence

Monday is President’s Day. When I was a kid, there was no President’s Day. There was Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday, and we got two days off from school. In 1971, the two were converged into a new President’s Day holiday as part of a government effort to create more 3-day weekends for workers – and to drive sales for retailers. Well, that certainly worked.

Here at Marcum, we will have to do our bargain hunting on Sunday, however, since President’s Day falls smack in the middle of busy season for us. On Monday, we will be at our desks looking forward to Memorial Day, which is the first national holiday on the annual calendar that we are able to observe due to the tax filing and financial statement deadlines that keep our noses to the grindstone until the end of April.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t let President’s Day pass without comment. So our research team did some digging to come up with a few little-known facts* about President’s Day for your reading pleasure. Here goes:

  • Pass the Towel – John Adams (1797-1801) was a part-time nudie. He routinely skinny-dipped in the Potomac River. (It must have been cleaner then).
  • All in the Family – Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) was the first president to be a U.S. citizen. (His predecessors were all British subjects).
  • Timing is Everything – William Henry Harrison (1841) gave the longest inauguration speech on record (1 hour, 40 minutes) but had the shortest presidency (one month). He contracted pneumonia delivering that tome in the rain and died shortly thereafter.
  • Cheers – Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) was a licensed bartender.
  • Cheers II – Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) was snockered during his inauguration. Also (but unrelated), he had a bullet in his chest from a duel and one in his arm from a barroom fight – both suffered while defending the honor of his wife.
  • Ride ‘Em Cowboy – Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) got a speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast in D.C. It was so cold at his inauguration that the canaries that were supposed to sing at the inaugural ball froze to death.
  • With Friends Like That – James Garfield (1881) died from blood poisoning thanks to doctors with dirty hands and instruments trying to remove a bullet from his back, which was lodged there by a would-be assassin.
  • Hangman – As sheriff of Erie County, New York, Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) personally conducted two hangings. He married his legal ward when she was 21, making her the youngest First Lady in U.S. history.
  • Fore! – Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) painted his golf balls black so he could play in the snow.
  • Betting Man – Warren Harding (1921-1923) bet – and lost – the White House’s good china in a poker game.
  • Greaser – Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) liked to have Vaseline rubbed into his head every day while eating breakfast in bed. He would press all the buttons on his Oval Office desk, then hide and watch his staff run in.
  • Fortune Cookie – Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) and his wife spoke fluent Chinese in the White House to prevent others from eavesdropping.
  • Lost His Shirt – Harry Truman (1945-1953) went bankrupt as a men’s wear retailer.
  • Too Close for Comfort – Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) appreciated an audience in the bathroom.
  • Full Plate – George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) inspired the new Japanese phrase, Bushuru, meaning “to publicly vomit,” as the president did on the Japanese prime minister during a state dinner.

There’s lots more where those came from, many of them much too controversial for this column – although wouldn’t it be fun to not care and just keep going? Look them up if you get tired of shopping. Enjoy the holiday weekend, everybody.

*With thanks and kudos to the following sources – and their sources:
Fact Retriever – US President Facts
Huffington Post – President’s Day Facts