Calvin Coolidge: Governor, President, Humorist

Since Rutherford B Hayes has been resurrected for humorous purposes, I saw a crying need to remind people  about Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President and possessor of the driest of wits.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you….


Well, someone has to document this, lest we forget….

Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, 1923-29

Humorist and storyteller Will Rogers was in a line of people that were waiting to shake the hand of newly-elected President Coolidge. “Silent Cal” was not known for having a sense of humor. In fact he was so stiff that Al Gore would have seemed like a court jester in comparison. A friend in line commented to Will that even he could not get a laugh out of the new President.

“Why, I will have him laughing before we finish shaking hands”, Will replied. Sure enough, when Will’s turn came he shook Coolidge’s hand, leaned in close and whispered something in the president’s ear, at which point the new President laughed uproariously. Will walked by his dumbfounded friend, who asked how he had done it. Will replied, “I said to him, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name’.”

Our Presidents get paid every two weeks, and it had become customary for the new President’s first check to be hand-delivered by the Paymaster-General. So, the fellow arrives with Coolidge’s first check two weeks after his inauguration, and is shown in to the Oval Office, where Silent Cal is poring over paperwork. The Paymaster presents the check to the President, who accepts it, barely looking up at the man, sets it down, and goes back to his reading. The man is nonplussed; usually there is a bit of conversation, perhaps an acknowledgement that the President knows his name, at least. An awkward moment later, The Paymaster starts towards the door, thinking that the stories of his boss’ coldness are true.

As he reaches the door, behind him he hears the president speak. “Come again”, he says.

The President and his wife, Grace, were in Vermont, touring a chicken farm. By chance they were shown the hatchery at different times, Grace being the first to tour the building.The guide mentions that each rooster mates 12 times a day. “Oh really, a dozen times a day?” replies Mrs. Coolidge, “Be sure to mention that to Mr. Coolidge.”  The guide, a bashful type, but not wanting to deny a President’s wife, assures her that he will include that fact in his presentation.

Later, when The President is making his inspection of the breeding facilities, the poor guide remembers his instructions, and awkwardly interjects, “The roosters, sir, breed a dozen times a day”. Calvin stares at the  man for a minute, and asks, “With  the same hen?” “Oh no, sir. A different hen each time”, says the guide. “On our way out, be sure to mention that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

5 thoughts on “Calvin Coolidge: Governor, President, Humorist

  1. Coolidge was known to be a skilled and effective public speaker, in private he was a man of few words and was therefore commonly referred to as “Silent Cal.” A possibly apocryphal story has it that Dorothy Parker, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His famous reply: “You lose.” – wikipedia

    • I forgot about that story, Tony, and this one, also concerning Ms. Parker, who was playing poker with her buds at the Algonquin Hotel, when a messenger rushed in with the news that Coolidge had died.
      “How can they tell?” She asked.

  2. Pingback: Bob’s Musings: Of Silky Ponies, Horses Arses, And Lambs « The Camp Of The Saints

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