Yesterday was one of those holidays that most of us miss, unless we happen to be a teacher or a federal employee, in which case we got the day off. (Although it doesn’t seem like federal employees want any more days off, and with good reason.)
It was Presidents Day, the day we set aside each year to honor the presidents. Yes, that even includes people like Franklin Pierce.
When I was young, it was just Washington’s birthday, with Lincoln thrown in because his birthday was 10 days earlier. (Ronald Reagan also was born in February, which makes you think that if you want to be a big-time president, it’s a good month — except William Henry Harrison also was born in February. So much for that idea).
But in 1971 the feds decided the third Monday of February would be the day to honor Washington, Lincoln and, if you wanted to, all those other guys. The rest of us promptly forgot about it.
Well, I’m here to remind you. In honor of the presidents I have 10 presidential trivia questions for you today. Answers at the end of the column.
1. Who is the only president in the Wrestling Hall of Fame?
2. What president is credited with saving Paraguay and is a national hero there?
3. Who was the only president who was inaugurated using a law book instead of the Bible?
4. Which president met Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, and asked him for some advice on espionage?
5. Name the president who thought it was hilarious when his pet parrot surprised guests with a string of cuss words.
6. Who is the only Speaker of the House who later became president?
7. Which president fathered 15 children?
8. Who is the only president to have a foreign capital named for him?
9. What woman from Ohio was the first woman to run for president?
Which president refused to be inaugurated on a Sunday?
1. Abraham Lincoln. He could do some real rasslin’ in his day. No doubt, he could have easily whupped Bobo Brazil and Hulk Hogan at the same time.
2. Rutherford B. Hayes. He mediated a big dispute in South America in 1877 which might have saved Paraguay as a nation. They love him down there.
3. Franklin Pierce. Things didn’t go so well for him, what with a crazy wife and a son dying in a train crash and Bleeding Kansas, so everyone since has stuck with the Bible.
4. John F. Kennedy, who was a little bit like James Bond himself.
5. Andrew Jackson. Supposedly the parrot was at Jackson’s house during Jackson’s funeral and had to be removed because of its foul language. Old Andy was probably laughing from beyond the grave.
6. James K. Polk. Apparently being Speaker of the House is not a good career path if you want to move into the White House.
7. John Tyler. Even more incredible, Tyler was president from 1841-1845 and he has two grandchildren who are still alive! Tyler married a young woman in his old age and had children and his son pulled the same trick, so two of Tyler’s grandsons are still around.
8. James Monroe. The city is Monroeville, in Liberia, a nation that was created in Africa with the hope that the U.S. could send freed slaves there. Most freed slaves declined the honor and stayed here.
9. Victoria Woodhull, spiritualist, Wall Street tycoon, free love advocate and women’s rights leader who ran for president in 1872. Women couldn’t vote and no one would put her on a ballot, but she sure attracted a lot of attention.
10. Zachary Taylor, who hadn’t shown any kind of religious devotion until he decided not to get inaugurated on a Sunday. This led to an odd situation: the old president was gone and Taylor hadn’t shown up for work so technically there wasn’t a president that day … and hardly anyone noticed! It’s something to think about.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.