Little-known presidential ‘facts’

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We all know that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and then, stating, “I cannot tell a lie,” admitted to his father, or some authority figure, that he had in fact, chopped it down.

What many people don’t know though is that the cherry tree was possessed by an evil spirit who used the tree’s branches to trap unsuspecting cherry eaters and eat them.
Thank you, Mr. President.

OK, that might not be the exact truth. I might be “James Freying” that anecdote, but here are some other presidential facts that I found in my exhaustive research over the weekend, so that I could write a relevant column in honor of Presidents Day. Here they are in order of their presidency. The facts themselves are true. I just poked a little fun afterwards.

• John Adams was the first president to live in the White House. He is the one to blame for the tacky wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom.

• Thomas Jefferson kept a mockingbird named Dick in the White House study and often let the bird ride on his shoulder. He was often told that “if that mockingbird don’t sing,” someone would buy him a diamond ring.

• Both of James Madison’s vice presidents died while in office. The butler did it.

• The year that James Monroe was elected president, the White House was painted white. Prior to that, it was a strange blend of brown and yellow with green shutters.

• John Quincy Adams owned a pet alligator which he kept in the East Room of the White House. He had bought it as a baby and it grew to a size that made it impossible to flush.

• Andrew Jackson’s pet parrot Poll had to be removed from Jackson’s funeral for swearing. The string of obscenities the parrot uttered can’t be printed in a family newspaper.

• Martin Van Buren’s autobiography does not mention his wife once. After the book was published, Van Buren could often be seen rubbing her feet and feeding her grapes.

• William Henry Harrison had a pet goat named “His Whiskers.” It is ranked as one of the worst names for a goat ever. The worst name is Stinky Smellington Junior.

• John Tyler had 15 children. How he had time to serve the country as president, the world may never know.

• James K. Polk has no real interesting facts. At least none worthy of a joke.

• Zachary Taylor’s body was exhumed recently because some think he was murdered. It is believed that the butler did it.

• Millard Fillmore was the first president to have a stepmother. He arrived at his inauguration in a horse-drawn carriage that looked like a pumpkin.

• The campaign slogan for Franklin Pierce was “We Polked you in 1844, we shall Pierce you in 1852.” And he still won the election.

• James Buchanan was the only president to never be married. He lived to the age of 112 and was described by many as the “happiest man in the universe.”

• Abraham Lincoln’s favorite sport was wrestling. Ironically, his favorite wrestler was known as “The Astonishing Assassin.”

• Andrew Johnson was a self-educated tailor who made his own clothes, as well as the clothes for his cabinet. They all had cool leather jackets that said “Johnson’s Cobras” on the back.

• Ulysses S. Grant ate a cucumber soaked in vinegar for breakfast each day, guaranteeing that no one would stand down wind of him at any time.

• Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to use a telephone in office. It was a wrong number.

• James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other. Nobody cared back then either.

• Chester A. Arthur changed his pants several times a day. He had over 80 pairs. Infer what you wish about this peculiarity.

• Grover Cleveland named his favorite hunting rifle, Death and Destruction. He named his favorite hunting knife, Princess Mary Jo Featherwhistle.

• Benjamin Harrison was known as the Human Iceberg because he would often float in the ocean for hours at a time with seagulls perched on his head.

• William McKinley was the first person to campaign by telephone. He was hung up on over six million times.

• Theodore Roosevelt wore a ring that contained what he believed to be a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair. Recently, it was discovered to be a lock of hair from William Henry Harrison’s goat.

• William Howard Taft weighed 332 pounds and once got stuck in a White House bath tub. No joke needed.

• Woodrow Wilson was the first president to hold a press conference. And yes, Helen Thomas was there.

• Warren G. Harding’s mother called him Winnie. He was the first president to put his mother in a home.

• Calvin Coolidge liked to be photographed wearing Indian headdresses and Boy Scout uniforms. It is rumored that he liked to wear a sequined glove on one hand.

• Herbert Hoover was the first president to have an asteroid named for him. It was the one blown up in the film “Armageddon.”

• Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to appear on television. He hit a clown in the face with a pie.

• Harry S. Truman was the first president to travel underwater in a modern submarine. Thankfully, Truman and the crew of the submarine were able to defeat the giant squid that attempted to crush their ship.

• Dwight D. Eisenhower installed a putting green on the White House lawn. Countless Easter eggs have been hidden in the hole each year ever since.

• John F. Kennedy was the first president to also be a Boy Scout. This makes Coolidge even weirder.

• Lyndon B. Johnson loved Fresca so much, he had a fountain installed in the Oval Office. Over the years it has been changed from Fresca to Tab, Dr. Pepper, Jolt and, more recently, Red Bull.

• Richard Nixon was the first president to address the Russians on Russian television. He hit a clown in the face with a pie.

• Gerald Ford was once a male model. He is credited for giving Derek Zoolander the idea for “Blue Steel.”

• Jimmy Carter is a speed reader. He has been recorded reading 2,000 words per minute. However, even he had a hard time getting through Barbara Kostova’s “The Historian.”

• Ronald Reagan saved 77 people when he worked as a lifeguard. He worked at Rip Tide Beach on Skeleton Wharf in the Watery Death district.

• George Bush was the first president to publicly refuse to eat broccoli. Barbara Bush snuck it in smoothies so that he got the necessary vitamins and minerals.

• Bill Clinton was mauled by a sheep when he was 8 years old. To this day, when he has trouble falling asleep he counts pages of the Starr Report.

• George W. Bush was the first president to hold Little League baseball tryouts on the White House lawn. Luckily, no one fell in the hole on the putting green.

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