Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy Presidents' Day To You

It's Presidents' Day -- well what's left of it. I've never met a president up close and personal, although I was THIS CLOSE to President Clinton one day at lunch, when he and our beloved Mayor Daley, along with their entourage, sat at a long table near my group.

Mayor Daley made a concerted effort not to look around, for fear of seeing someone who wanted something from him, no doubt. But President Clinton was scanning the room and smiling like a rock star when people like ME swooned like teenaged girls at their first rock concert. I understood immediately why his Secret Service name was Elvis. He was a head taller than the mayor. Goodlooking too. And yep, he's a player. [It's all in the eyes.]

Another brush with presidential-ness happened when I went to a friend's graduation from a fancy Ivy League school in the sixties. The 1960's. There was this kid named Tweed hanging around all the time. He was short, barely five foot five, wore glasses, and looked a lot younger than twenty-one. In any other milieu he would have been a dweeb. Even in that milieu he was a dweeb.

Physically he looked nothing like my friend who was tall and athletic by comparison. He also wasn't graduating, since he'd taken some time off from school and had at least another year before he finished. He was pleasant enough, but didn't have much of a personality, although everybody was very nice to him.

Tweed invited a group of us to his family's cottage on Cape Cod after graduation. It was my first trip to that wonderful place. I still remember the ferry ride, his family's ancient blue touring car we used for driving around, and the spectacular view of the ocean looking out over Gay Head. 

The cottage was loaded with antiques and chintz. Quaint as shit would be an appropriate description. Clearly Tweed's family was Olde Money. That was most obvious in the bathroom where there were rows of family photos to peruse while one was seated on the toilet. I wasn't paying much attention to all the old black and white pictures until I looked a little closer and kept seeing someone who looked an awful lot like Teddy Roosevelt. He had a huge mustache along with that funny park ranger looking hat he used to wear, and he was always surrounded by lots of younger people. It finally dawned on me -- that IS Teddy Roosevelt.

Tweed was his great grandson. Since those college days he has spent his life as a professional relative of a president, as near as I can determine. He took a trip down a wild river in the Amazon or some other alligator infested place, following a map of the same excursion great grandpa made a long time ago.  He wrote about it in the New York Times Magazine. The last thing I found about him was via  Google. Tweed was presented with a posthumous Medal of Honor for his presidential predecessor by President Clinton. Apparently Teddy had quite a ride or two up San Juan Hill in 1898.

Another professional presidental relative I met was a direct descendant of the Harrisons. She used her DNA to get meetings with and work from folks in the White House.  Her real claim to fame was more interesting however. She had huge blue eyes and a cute curly bob. If her hair had been black instead of gray, she would have looked just like Betty Boop. There was a reason for that. Wouldn't you know her mother had been the original inspiration for Betty. The resemblance in her daughter was uncanny.

Aside from a family member who was married briefly to one of Ben Franklin's questionable offspring, I have no familial connections to our Founding Fathers or the Oval Office.

How about you? How close have you been to a president? Or a relative of a president?  And was he or she a professional presidential relative?  I think that should be a new job description.


mosie1944 said...

If you were reading my journal at the right time, you've seen the picture of me and Cliff with Jimmy Carter.  I know it's stupid, but I consider it one of the high spots of my life.  Of course, I consider one night sleeping in my cabin a high spot.  I don't get out much.

swibirun said...

Never met a president.  I saw a motorcade go by once.  That's it.

We don't need to know the details about how you know that Elvis was a player, do we?  

You have had a fascinating life.  I hope one day you, Alexis and I can go to lunch or dinner.  You are so effin cool.


onemoretina said...

    My first summer job in high school was for a company in Burbank, where Ronald Reagan's son Michael also worked.  That's as close as I ever got. Tina

suzypwr said...

President Bush was near here today. That meant stay off I75 and M59 to me, lol. He was going to some company near me that manufactures shingles that are energy saving or something. Why go on a holiday? Or were most people working?

I don't have any blood of presidents in me that I know of. However, my mother's mother, so the family story goes, turned down a proposal of marriage from the nice neighbor in Dearborn, MI where she grew up. She thought he spent too much time in his garage fooling around. Yeah, Henry Ford.


bosoxblue6993w said...

well, i know george mcgovern.    does that count?  
i shook hands with a man who shook hands with abraham lincoln

ksquester said...

I haven't been near a president but I have been near his airplane when I ticked up a friend at the airport. I wondered why every bridge had lots of police  and helicopters in the air...........then there was the terrible traffice jam that happened after I picked my friend up.........just another reason NOT to like the president. Anne

judypearllove said...

Oh my God Yes President Clinton. I stood for 4 hrs. waiting on him in Memphis Tn. He arrived on his bus late and I shook His Hand when he got off the bus as he headed toward the platform. He has a strong confident hand shake and looks you in your eyes and smiles so that your heart leaps from your chest. He was the best looking thing. I screamed at him when he left the platform headed back toward his bus hand in hand with Hilary. He looked back over his shoulder at me and I flipped my darn red head. I went nuts!!! I didn't hold back anything when he was leaving.  He laughed and kept swing his hand while he was holding Hilary's. She never looked back. Yes he's a player and I would play with him in a heart beat. I love President Clinton he's a charmer and a wonderful President and person. Global Peace. He's making his mark on this world and making a difference in peoples lives for the better. He rocked as a President and He Rocks Now. Reading his book was like sitting down talking to him one on one. Everyone he meets he takes a lesson from them and I try to do the same.

screaminremo303 said...

My first wife was a distant cousin of Muhammed Ali. Ms. Lovely is a descendant of the Mormon founders of Lee's Ferry (Grand Canyon). Mr. Lee was later lynched for alleged crimes.

Next time, I'm marrying for money.

gaboatman said...

Mrs. L.
I had the pleasure of shaking the hand of Lindon B. Johnson after he delivered a speach in Nashville Tennessee in the mid sixties.  I was in the school band and we played at the airport upon his arrival.  There was a chain link fence between us and the runway.  President Johnson came right over to the fence to shake hands and we were allowed to break formation.  The one thing that impressed me was that I was one of hundreds of people along that fence, but when he shook my hand he looked directly into my eyes.

salemslot9 said...

from my friend Bulldog:
I've only seen two presidents in person.
Ford at a Rally in Wonderland Mall (before it was enclosed ) 1976
and Bush Senior at a Rally/Debate in Lansing.
both ended up losing their elections the following week