Twice in the past 24 hours, I’ve “showed off” my presidential geekery on Twitter. One has to do with Grover Cleveland (the only president elected to non-consecutive terms) and the other recalls the fact that it’s ben 150 years since a Secretary of State went on to become president. I double-checked that one before posting.
It is an old habit, but not entirely my fault. You see, I became interested in history at a very early age when someone slipped a history book onto my elementary school reading list. From then on, I dug in, staying happily at the library next door to the grocery store while mom shopped, and reading everything they had about the presidency of the United States. I checked out books, and either took home or semi-memorized encyclopedia entries (I loved me some World Book) about each president. For my crowning single-digit age achievement, I learned to say the names of the presidents (middles included) non-stop, and all in order. It is this last part that calls up a memory of my dad. When he learned I could do this parlor trick, he began having me recite at family reunions. The impact was greatest because I would say my piece to one relative at a time, not to the assembled group. It meant dad could brag on me over and over again.
The thing is that while I appreciated the fuss dad made, it did get to be embarrassing after the first few times. And you see, that’s what the people want; a performer who can be a little humble in the face of her own achievements.
Oh, I can still recite the presidents, though a few have been added since I was eight. Perhaps I should have appended that to my eulogy for dad. I bet he would have liked it.