A Day With Silent Cal

In our last post we said you’d see where the trivia was going. One of the answers to “What Vice-Presidents Assumed the Presidency upon death of the President?” and “Which of the above men lost a son while in the White House?” is the topic of this post. It is none other than Calvin Coolidge. Known to many as “Silent Cal” for his brevity of answers, Calvin Coolidge was actually a lawyer and a very skilled public speaker. He was typically a New Englander in his manner, not one to participate in small talk. He holds the record for meeting more often with reporters than any President before or since. His 1924 address to Congress was the first one ever given over radio. He was the first President to appear in sound film.

While we were touring a church next door to the Adams National Historic Site Visitors Center in Quincy, MA we talked with our guide and learned he was an actor. He performs one man plays about several Presidents, John Quincy Adams and Calvin Coolidge for example. When he heard we would be in Vermont, he said we’d be near the home of Calvin Coolidge. He told us this was one of the best restored Presidential birthplaces. He also mentioned that he was hired to do the interactive displays at the Visitors Center.

Born and raised in the small farming community of Plymouth, Vermont Calvin Coolidge grew up loving the farm and the community. He attended Amherst College and opened a law practice in Massachusetts. Gradually he moved up the political ladder. Coolidge became Governor of Massachusetts and gained nationwide attention during the Boston Police Strike of 1919. In 1920 he was made Harding’s Vice Presidential running mate. He was known for being a decisive leader. He assumed the Presidency when President Warren G. Harding died from a heart attack. Coolidge was visiting his home in Vermont when the news reached him on August 2, 1923. As his father was a Justice of the Peace he gave his son the Oath of Office using the family bible in their living room. It is thought that another oath ceremony was most likely done when he returned to Washington, DC.

presidential photo, Coolidge, history

Calvin Coolidge as President

President Coolidge, Vermont, history

Where President Coolidge Took His Oath Of Office

US Presidents birthplace, Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth, Vermont

Plymouth, VT was about 30 minutes from Winhall Brook Campground. The first time we drove up there we were just out exploring and arrived at the Calvin Coolidge State Historical Site and Museum about 4pm. Since they closed at 5pm we decided to just visit the Notch Cemetery and return another day for the tour.

cemetery,Calvin Coolidge

President Coolidge’s Grave

His Son, Calvin Jr., age 16

His Son, Calvin Jr., age 16

We knew from having watched the old Masterpiece Theatre series Backstairs At The White House that Calvin Coolidge Jr. died from what today would be a preventable cause. He developed a blister on his foot (per the series from learning to dance) and the blister became infected. In the days before antibiotics this often led to septicemia which was the cause of his death.

Our return trip about a week later was on an overcast day with very threatening skies. We arrived with just enough time to buy tickets and join the scheduled tour. We began at the General Store once owned by President Coolidge’s father. The family lived in a small apartment in the rear. This is where Calvin Coolidge was born. As the family became more prosperous they built a larger home, sold the store, farmed and raised livestock on this site. They attended church at Union Christian Church located next door to the store. Calvin Coolidge’s father helped establish a dairy cooperative and cheese factory here too. The Vermont Cheese Coop still makes cheese today. We bought Hunter cheese and other goodies.

general store, history

Coolidge General Store Today

Calvin Coolidge, Coolidge Birthplace

Calvin Coolidge Was Born In This Bed

Coolidge State Historic Site

Coolidge Home Behind The Store

horse drawn carriage, Coolidge

Carriage Used By Coolidge Family

cheese, Vermont, food

Plymouth Cheese Corporation

church, Vermont, Coolidge

Church Attended By Coolidge Family

Coolidge, President, history

Inside Church Flag Shows Presidential Pew

Coolidge, history

President Coolidge With His Father At The Vermont Homestead

As a young man Calvin Coolidge admired Thomas Edison. His father arranged for him to meet the famous inventor for an hour. Upon meeting the future President, Edison was so impressed and that he spent the entire day with him. The Coolidges entertained many famous people at the Plymouth home during his Presidency. The picture to the below shows them with Henry Ford, Harvey and Russell Firestone and Thomas Edison. Many tourists came to Plymouth in hopes of meeting the President. They would mail letters back home with the Plymouth postmark as souvenirs. The postmistress at the time was paid a $50/salary plus a portion of postage sold. Because of the tourist business her income skyrocketed to $1500 in just one summer.

Ford, Firestone, Edison, Coolidge

Coolidge With Ford, Firestone Brothers And Edison

old post office, Vermont

Post Office Inside General Store

President Coolidge liked to spend summers in Vermont. If you’ve ever been in DC in August you know why! He needed a place for his staff to work. Being the ever practical man, he put up folding tables in a room above the store normally used as the community social hall. This became the Summer Oval Office. When the President was not there the room featured a band called the Old Time Plymouth Dance Band with Coolidge’s 80 year old Uncle John on violin. (He is second from the right in the photo below). I love human interest stories and was fascinated by this one. An agent from the William Morris Agency heard the band play and arranged for a nationwide tour. The band had a special clause inserted in the contract … the tour would not start until spring planting was completed. After shows in thirteen states Uncle John became homesick and returned to Vermont. The remaining shows were cancelled.

The Summer Oval Office

The Summer Oval Office

music, Vermont

Plymouth Old Time Dance Orchestra

Calvin Coolidge was elected on his own merit in 1924. The Coolidge administration enjoyed a period of relative calm after the Harding Teapot Dome scandal and due to the prosperity of the Roaring 20s. He is best known for being able to represent the desires of middle America and for streamlining governmental expenses. He saw to lowering and for all but the richest 2%, elimination of federal income taxes while reducing the national debt. He had an ongoing fight against farm subsides and vetoed legislation at least twice. He was against the federal government taking on flood control measures even after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. He was in favor of civil rights. President Coolidge sought but did not obtain a federal anti-lynching law. He signed the Indian Citizenship Act giving American Indians citizenship along with the right to pursue cultural customs and retain tribal lands. As for foreign policy he is best known for the Kellogg-Briand Act in which the USA, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Japan renounce war as national policy when dealing with each other. We all know how well that worked. It did however serve as a framework for post WWII international law. Under his administration the US government continued to refuse recognition of the Soviet Union. He declined to run for a second term in 1928. 

history, Coolidge

President Coolidge Signs Kellogg-Briand Pact

We went back to the Visitors Center to see the film about Calvin Coolidge and the exhibits. The exhibits showed Calvin and Grace Coolidge at the White House and enjoying their favorite sport, baseball. We came not knowing a great deal about this man and left feeling like we’d just visited a man instead of a place. We hope this post tweaks your interest in making a visit for yourself.

first pets, dog, Coolidge

Coolidges w dog at White House

baseball, Coolidge

President Coolidge Throws Out Ball At Season Opener

Roadside Trivia # 4

How much do you know about some of the less well known US Presidents? Well, we’re about to find out. In our travels we are attempting to visit all of the Presidental Libraries, homes and birthplaces. Please don’t pull up a new window in Goggle right away to find the answers. That spoils the fun! You’ll see where this tidbit of knowledge is leading in our next post.

Between 1841 and 1963 eight US Presidents died while in office. It was almost nine when Ronald Regan was shot. Can you name them? To be honest I only got five right when I first tried to answer this question. I knew all them all.

OK. So you’re feeling pretty good about getting the answer. Now, as Emeril would say, “Let’s kick it up a notch.” How many of their vice-presidents who assumed the Presidency can you name? I knew only four. I new all but one.

Of the Presidents who died in office, how many were assassinated and how many died of natural causes?

Of all the men above, three had children die while they were in office. Can you name the Presidents? We both knew the answer.




You’re not cheating, are you?




Here are the answers:

 Presidents Who Died In Office:           1 – William Henry Harrison

                                                                        2 – Zachary Taylor

                                                                        3 – Abraham Lincoln

                                                                        4 – James Garfield

                                                                        5 – William McKinley

                                                                        6 – Warren Harding

                                                                        7 – Franklin D. Roosevelt

                                                                       8 – John F. Kennedy

 Vice Presidents Who Became President Upon Death Of The President:

                                                                        1 – John Tyler

                                                                        2 – Millard Fillmore

                                                                        3 – Andrew Johnson

                                                                       4 – Chester Arthur

                                                                       5 – Teddy Roosevelt (my favorite President)

                                                                       6 – Calvin Coolidge

                                                                        7- Harry Truman

                                                                        8- Lyndon Johnson

How Many Were Assassinated  And How Many Died Of Natural Causes?

                                                                       Assassinated:  3          Natural Causes: 5

*** Because there has been a theory that Zachary Taylor’s gastroenteritis may have been food poisoning and an assassination attempt we would consider 4/4 also correct.

Which Presidents Lost Children While in Office?  All 3 were sons.

                                                                        1- Lincoln

                                                                        2- Coolidge

                                                                        3- Kennedy

Should We Launch?

We were itching to get our paddles wet but the weather had been cool and rainy. So when we had a warm, sunny day we headed north once again on Rt. 100 to a small but very picturesque reservoir put-in that we’d saved on the GPS. As we drove north the skies began to cloud over. By the time we got to the launch site black clouds were hanging low in the sky. Should we launch? Take a look at the picture below. What would have been your call?

boating, weather

Fishermen Coming In As We Debated

kayaking, weather, dark clouds

Should We Launch?

kayaking, weather

Is It Clearing A Bit?

I was for launching.  I wasn’t so sure. When I first started kayaking eight years ago I was dumped out of my boat by a sudden thunderstorm and spent 45 minutes bobbing around in the lake under a dock as lightening cracked overhead. I remember wondering if this was how I was going to leave this earth.  We decided that the pond was small enough to take a chance. So off we went.

It was a good decision. Shortly after we were on the water the skies cleared.

kayaking, weather

Blue Skies … Nothin’ But Blue Skies

kayaking, Vermont

Exploring An Inlet

We explored some inlets and then paddled around to where a loon nest was supposed to be located. We spotted a male and female loon with one chick. The chick was only about two weeks old and this might have been its first swimming lesson. We kept a reasonable distance so not to alarm the adults and watched the chick climb down from Mom’s back and glide along beside her. The baby loon occasionally would try to swim up to a foot away but it quickly learned this was hard work and returned to easier paddling. Oh, to have our good cameras with us! Not wanting them to be caught in the rain, we’d opted for the waterproof point and shoots instead. Another picture for the Ones That Got Away Album. If you look closely, you can see the chick as a fluffy brown spot.

The Swimming Lesson

The Swimming Lesson

loon, birds,kayaking, Vermont

A Closer Look

loon, birds

Wouldn’t This Make A Great Mother’s Day Card?

As if seeing the loons wasn’t good enough, we came across a clump of daylillies. There were some wild iris there too that were just days from bursting forth. We also found some geese with half grown goslings.

flowers, kayaking

Daylillies Were Blooming

geese, birds, kayaking

Geese With Goslings

Just think what we’d have missed if the weather had scared us away!

Roadside Trivia # 3

While driving around one day we discovered this interesting fact. Do you know what eastern coast state had a “gold rush” just after gold was discovered in California?

So was it Florida?


Or was it Virginia?


Maybe it was Connecticut?


How about New York?


Could it be Pennsylvania?






Vermont trivia

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's, ice cream, Vermont

Welcome To Ben & Jerry’s

No visit to Vermont is complete without a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, Vermont. So when we were looking for something to do on a cloudy day with a high possibility of rain we headed north on Vermont Route 100. They must have known I was coming. The “flavor of the day” at the tasting bar was Triple Carmel… to die for! About 20 years ago I’d read a biography of Ben & Jerry. I remember laughing out loud. Two more unlikely people to become entrepreneurs and millionaires I can’t imagine. 

Ben & Jerry's

The Moo-vie Theatre

Ben & Jerry's, ice cream, Vermont

Chari & Steve In The Ben & Jerry’s Test Kitchen

The tour started with a short moo-vie (we told you cows were all over the place). Then we toured a small plant and observed the factory in production. Production is done Monday-Friday so if you want to see it in action schedule your visit during the week. Their main factory is elsewhere in the state and that one is responsible for 70% of the US production. There is another plant in Nevada, one in Canada, one in Holland and one in Israel. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the stop at the sample room which is housed in the original test kitchen. The small sample was just enough to whet your appetite so we went to the store and bought a cup each. Steve had Coffee Buzz, Buzz, Buzz and Chari had Late Night Snack complete with chocolate covered potato chip balls.

Then we walked up the hill to the Flavor Graveyard complete with gravestones and epitaphs for all the “thought it sounded good at the time” flavors that never made it. Steve used to buy Rainforest Crunch and hadn’t found it in a long time. We located Ol’ RFC in the graveyard and paid our respects.

In Memory Of Rainforest Crunch

In Memory Of Rainforest Crunch

We decided to take the scenic route home following Vermont Route 15A through the Green Mountain National Forest to Route 7 then heading south to Middlebury where we stopped and had dinner at the Stone Mill Cafe.

A great, if fattening, way to spend a day.

Now for today’s Trivia: Can you name the top ten Ben & Jerry’s flavors?

The answers are below…… Now NO PEEKING!














Did that look like an ice cream cone to you?  Well, so much for our computer art. Now for the answers…..

#1 Cherry Garcia

#2  Cookie Dough

#3  Chunky Monkey

#4  Chocolate Fudge Brownie

#5  Half Baked

#6  Coffe Heath Bar Crunch

#7  Strawberry Cheesecake

#8  Phish Food

#9  Peanut Butter Cup

#10  Red Velvet Cake

Was your favorite flavor there? I was really surprised that none of the carmel flavors were there. They are my favorite.  I’ll bet you’ve got your car keys in hand and are headed out the door to buy a pint.… Enjoy!!!

Our Top Ten Campgrounds For June 2012- June 2013

Today is the first day of summer and everyone’s thoughts are turning to spending time outdoors. So we thought we’d share the top ten campgrounds we’ve used this past year. These are not in any order of preference just listed as we thought about them. We hope you get to enjoy them.

beach, SGI

St. Georges Island State Park

St. Georges Island State Park

   Appalachicola, Florida


Bandit's Roost On Kerr-Scott Lake

Bandit’s Roost On Kerr-Scott Lake

Bandit’s Roost COE (Corps of Engineers) Campground

Wilkesboro, North Carolina


kayaking, photography, Kentucky

Energy Lake At LBL

Piney  LBL Campground 

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area

Kentucky and Tennessee


Atalaya, architecture

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina


wildflowers, Vermont

Winhall Brook Campground

Winhall Brook COE Campground

South Londonderry, Vermont


Assateague Island

Assateague Island

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island, Maryland


Near Camden Hills SP

Near Camden Hills SP

Camden Hills State Park

Camden, Maine


Georgia Veterans State Park

Georgia Veterans State Park

Georgia Veterans State Park

Cordele, Georgia


Promised Land State Park

Promised Land State Park

Promised Land State Park

Greentown, Pennsylvania 


Historical Site Near Fishermans Memorial SP

Historical Site Near Fishermans Memorial SP

Fishermans Memorial State Park

Narragansett, Rhode Island

The Green Mountain State Lives Up To Its Name

In an attempt to keep from getting further behind in our posts I worked on the computer as we drove from Salem, Massachusetts to Winhall Brook, a Corps of Engineers campground, just north of South Londonderry, Vermont. That’s in the central southern third of the state. Even though we were on interstate highways most of the time the traffic was light and the forested mountainside made it a very pleasant drive. (For those of you who are new to the blog we use colors to indicate when one of us is making a comment, Chari is GREEN, Steve is BLUE, Opal is ORANGE and guest submissions are PURPLE.)

Vermont, Green Mountain State

Vermont Deserves Its Nickname

You just can’t beat the Corps of Engineers campgrounds for value and amenities. We have an open site which is good for satellite TV but we back to woods for privacy. It was cool (58 degrees) and cloudy when we arrived. This morning we awoke to birds singing, sunshine and the sound of rushing water as Winhall River rolls along about a quarter mile away. All of this with electric and water hookup for $11/night thanks to our Federal Parks Interagency Pass senior discount!  We knew coming into the park would be tricky as there is a tight turn onto a single lane bridge. Our trailer was at the maximum length but Steve did a fabulous job of lining up. Looks like a good place for a bike ride and we’ll check out Ball Mountain Lake for kayaking later today. Summer may finally have found us with temperatures predicted to reach 85 degrees for the first time.

Both of us were feeling overdosed on history even though we loved every stop from Philadelphia to Boston. Time to take a break and relax. This stop is how full timers take a vacation. We shift gears from sightseeing at historical sites to biking, hiking and paddling and just maybe sitting outside and reading a good book. There may not be a lot to write about for a few days while we take R&R. We did ride bikes on in the campground and on the West Trail to the gorge overlooking the river where we found a bench.

As it turned out there was plenty to write about. We had the time, the material and very poor internet for doing any uploads. Frustrating for sure. Now we’ve moved on and again we are still trying to “catch up.”

We had four days of summer then back to cool and rainy. Everywhere we go people are saying that this is the coolest and rainiest springtime in many years. So if you are having a drought just give us a call as we seem to be bringing rain wherever we go! We were in Vermont for two weeks and had one week of rain. The Winhall River went from a shallow, rocky mountain river to a full raging torrent 4-5 feet deep before we left. Ball Mountain Lake turned out to be a dry bed. Maybe this is one of the rivers they decided to return to it’s pre-dammed status. Anyway we certainly couldn’t kayak here. So off we went on several drives.

Vermont is a peaceful, laid back place. Small towns with locally owned shops, IGA markets and artisan galleries instead of chain restaurants, shopping centers and a Walmart on every corner. In fact the only time we felt we were in Anywhere USA was when we drove through Rutland on Route 7. The largest part of our driving was on Vermont Route 100. We found waterfalls, cheese stores, historic sites and  a state park campground for future trips. Here we found Moss Glen Falls full of wildflowers and two photo worthy waterfalls. Another day trip took us to Quechee (pronounced Kwee-chee) Gorge aka Vermont’s Grand Canyon. The gorge is 165′ deep. There is a .6 mile moderately steep trail from the bridge over the gorge to the floor where you can venture into the river for a dip on a hot day.

waterfalls, Vermont, Quechee Gorge

Quechee Gorge Panorama

wildflowers, Vermont

May Wildflowers Along VT RT 100

waterfall, Vermont

Smaller Waterfall At Moss Glen

Swirling Water Near Middlebury, VT

Swirling Water Near Middlebury, VT

We enjoyed our time so much that we altered our return route from Canada and will be back here for some leaf peeping in late September.