Things Presidential. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ever since our first visit to a presidential library (Nixon’s in Yorba Linda, CA), we’ve had the goal of visiting as many presidential libraries as possible. The best things about visiting the presidential libraries are learning about:

-The President’s family and children

-World events going on at the time

-How a President’s term was “characterized”

and last but not least. . . . .

~THE FIRST LADY~

Do we really go to learn more about the Presidents themselves? Who goes to the Reagan library to learn about Reagan? No, we know all about Reagan. However, everyone I speak to says- “Go to the Reagan library, you need to see Air Force One!!!” Do we need to see or hear more about Watergate at the Nixon library???

So, with that perspective in mind, here’s an expectation for a visit to the Kennedy library-let’s learn about Jackie! We think her quote below displayed during our recent Kennedy library visit describes the realities of “her term of office” best. . .

Jackie Kennedy quote

Jackie Kennedy quote

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Overview: In a previous blog we covered our visits to the Bush libraries in Texas and FDR’s Hyde Park library. Although not mentioned in previous blogs, we also visited Washington’s Mt. Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello. This blog will touch on this last phase of our trip. During this time we visited the Kennedy and Truman library, as well as the homes and museums associated with John Adams and William McKinley.

Now, back to Jackie. . .

Born in 1929 Jackie attended school in the upper east side of Manhattan starting first grade in 1935. The report card below, signed by Jackie’s Headmistress, Ethel Stringfellow, immediately caught our attention-

Jackie's report card

Jackie’s report card

 It’s a little difficult to read the card’s comments, but here is what it says:

      “Jacqueline was given a D in Form because her disturbing conduct in her geography class made it necessary to exclude her from the room.”

We also thought it interesting that someone who had been so active and riding horses since she was one year old only received a “B” in PE!

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Immediately after becoming president, JFK and Jackie took their first state visit to Europe in 1961. This included visits to Paris, Vienna and London. Below is a gown she wore on the trip.

Jackie's state visit gown

Jackie’s state visit gown

Of particular interest, in Buckingham Palace they dined and met Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip whom Kennedy met earlier when his father was Ambassador. Below is a quote from the Washington Post-

        “The first lady silently and smilingly stole the show”

That quote is almost prophetic in how it described her entrance onto the national scene. . .It definitely seems that Jackie not only “stole the show” during this visit, but also as First Lady in the United States!

Unfortunately, we didn’t take more pics regarding Jackie. Needless to say, it was great learning about her childhood and the years leading up to meeting JFK.

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 PT 109: The museum possessed a fascinating historical collection of JFK’s PT 109 experience.

As the Commanding Officer of PT 109, (his patrol boat in WWII), he became a hero in the aftermath of it’s sinking on August 1, 1943. We encourage you to open the link and read the fascinating story of how he faced this disaster. When asked about becoming a hero, the Library’s web site states his reply-

                “It was involuntary. They sank my boat.”

Below is a picture of the green coconut husk he used to send a message when they were stranded on an island. You can see what was written on the card.

Coconut with inscription

Coconut with inscription

 Below is the PT 109 flag that was removed from the craft a month prior to the disaster-

PT 109 flag

PT 109 flag

 Other museum pics are below-

JFK's sailboat

JFK’s sailboat

JFK library and museum

JFK library and museum

JFK's non golfing golf cart

JFK’s non golfing golf cart

Above is the golf cart JFK didn’t use for golfing but for all the kid duties.

Our good friends Jeb and Jan on the left

Our good friends Jeb and Jan on the left

JFK Library summary: Located in Boston, the JFK library is a must see. It gives a great overview of JFK’s childhood years, relationship with his brothers and father and gives insight into Jackie Kennedy. It is interesting to note-we figured there would be a lot of material and displays on his assassination. . .but there was very little!

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 John  Adams home: There is currently a resurgence on “all things Adams” according to a docent we spoke to. The reason? .  . .the 2008 HBO miniseries about John Adams starring Paul Giamatti.  We can definitely vouch for that as we watched the mini-series and LOVED IT! Many  others seem to share our appreciation of this series. It has won more Golden Globe and Emmy awards than any other mini-series in history.

 If you visit the Adams National Historic Park in Quincy, MA, you’ll appreciate it more if you are able to see the mini-series first. We’ll just show a few pictures, but the link gives a good flavor for what you can see there.

 

John Adam's home

John Adam’s home

Built in 1731, this was the home for four generations of the Adams family from 1788 to 1927 and has a superb collection of Adam’s artifacts.  Our favorite part of the tour was the 1873 Stone Library,  next to the house (below left).

Stone Library (left) built in 1873

Stone Library (left) built in 1873

The Stone Library contains 14,000+ books that the Adamses owned.

John Adams National Park summary: The park includes the John Adams and John Quincy Adams birthplaces as well as the home pictured above- “Peacefield”.  Show up at the Visitor Center at 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA and enjoy the tour!!!

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William McKinley home, museum and mausoleum: If you are near Dayton, Ohio visit the McKinley museum and mausoleum. We toured it right after visiting the NFL Hall of Fame.  We didn’t realize it, but Ohio and Virginia both claim about eight U.S. presidents from their states. So you can imagine all of the opportunities to visit presidential sites in Ohio. Below are some pics:

Private McKinley

Private McKinley

McKinley (right) was one of seven Presidents to serve in the Civil War. He served with distinction having started in the enlisted ranks and eventually becoming a Major.

Ida McKinley's tiara bought from "Pawn Stars"

Ida McKinley’s tiara bought from “Pawn Stars”

 For those of you “Pawn Stars” fans, you may have seen this tiara on T.V. The museum quickly got donors from 22 states to raise $43,000 to purchase it! Read the link for the story!  

Talking McKinley mannequins

Talking McKinley mannequins

At first, we thought these talking mannequins were a little dorky. After hearing Ida and William describe their lives and presidency, it was actually kind of cool. We felt like we knew  much more about them as people!

McKinley museum summary: This is small scale and probably not a destination unless you are already in the area. . .but to the folks of Canton, Ohio, McKinley is an icon and was much adorned ever since he was assassinated on September 6, 1901. Accordingly, legislation was passed to assign the Secret Service to protect the President ever since that event. The museum was fun and informative.

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As we headed west past Ohio our goal was to visit the Truman library in Independence, MO and the Eisenhower library in Abilene, KS. We only made it to the Truman library but thoroughly enjoyed it!

The many faces of HST

The many faces of HST

We’ve never really known much about HST until this trip. For example, he has a lot of famous quotes of which all or most subsequent presidents use. A great example is below-

Famous quote from his desk

Famous quote from his desk

 When commenting on this quote, HST said-

“The President-whoever he is-has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job. “

For a very interesting perspective on where this phrase came from (gambling!), read this link from the Truman library. Here is another quote used quite often-

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

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Another side of Truman that was new to us was his prior military experience in WWI. Apparently his troops didn’t have a lot of faith that he’d be a good leader, but he earned great respect in the battlefield under fire as an artillery commander. Below is a picture~

HST in WW1

HST in WW1

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Life during the HST years

Life during the HST years

Most of the Presidential libraries displayed examples of what life was like during the President’s time in office (in this case April ’45-January ’53).

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Something else the libraries tend to do is to display the typical day of a President. According to the HST library, Truman was a very dedicated and hard working president. This hard working spirit was instilled in him from his youth, especially from working on a farm. The pictures below depict one typical day, February 20, 1952, of his presidency-

One typical day!

One typical day!

It’s hard to read the writing, so the picture below should help-

IMG_2043

Truman Library summary: The library is located off  interstate (I 70) near Kansas City so the next time you are heading that way, plan to stop in! The library defined the last two years of his second term as disastrous, but over time he recovered enough to have an aircraft carrier named after him (U.S.S HARRY S. TRUMAN CVN 75)!

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Note: Not far to the west (near I 70), is the Eisenhower library in Abilene, KS. Unfortunately due to our schedule and inclement weather we had to take a pass on that one!

Cheers, Louise and Smitty

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