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Sandra Scott Travels: ‘Silent Cal’ Hailed From Vermont

Calvin Coolidge.

Calvin Coolidge.

Last week I asked: What president was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont?

Calvin Coolidge.

Calvin Coolidge.
Calvin Coolidge.

Plymouth Notch is a very small town nestled in the quiet Vermont countryside and is now a Vermont State Historic Site and the entire settlement is a historic district.

There is a Coolidge Museum and Education Center plus a restaurant, general store, a few other buildings, and an operative cheese factory.

The village is virtually unchanged since the time when Coolidge lived there.

Even though he spent most of his adult life elsewhere he often returned to the old homestead and never lost his fondness for Vermont and its people.

The room where Coolidge was sworn in
The room where Coolidge was sworn in

In the Museum Center, we learn more about the life and times of Coolidge through interactive displays that personalize him for us.

A spry 80-year-old docent, Bill Tenney, gave us a guided walking tour of the village.

Coolidge became president upon the death of Warren G. Harding, who died suddenly in 1923.

Coolidge took the oath of the office of president in the parlor of his boyhood home by his father who was a Justice of the Peace.

Moxie
Moxie

After officially becoming president he is reported to say, “Guess we better have a drink.”

With his wife, father and a few others they went across the street to Florence Cilley’s General Store where they toasted the occasion with Moxie.

Moxie is a one of the first mass-produced soft drinks.

It is not as sweet as modern soft drinks and it is still sold in the general store.

The store was built by Coolidge’s father and was in the Coolidge family until 1917.

The post office was in a former carriage house attached to the general store and was operational until 1917.

Coolidge worked there at the general store and later became a partner in the business.

As a boy, Coolidge had regular chores such as filling the wood box and caring for the animals. During that time families had a variety of enterprises to support themselves.

The Coolidge family was no exception, besides the general store, post office and a small farm, the Plymouth Cheese Factory was founded by the Coolidge family.

It was a way to handle the milk produced by the local farmers.

On the second floor an exhibit details the story of cheese making in Vermont.

Historians have not always been kind to Coolidge, but I love some of his quotes.

Words to live by
Words to live by

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” “Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”

A plaque in the museum that has part of one of his famous sayings, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”

Coolidge was dubbed “Silent Cal.”

His terseness became legendary.

One contemporary quipped, “He can be silent in five languages.”

My favorite tells of a young lady who told the president that she had bet a friend she could make him say more than two words.

His response, “You lose.”

Coolidge's gravesite
Coolidge’s gravesite

Coolidge, commenting on his quiet nature said, “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”

He is buried nearby in the local cemetery with other family members.

No big elaborate tomb for a president who was considered frugal.

I developed an appreciation for Coolidge’s dry Yankee wit and frugality.

The journalist, Walter Lippmann, said the political genius of President Coolidge was his talent for effectively doing nothing.

What would he think of today’s government?

Trivia Tease™:  What city was the setting for “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?”

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!