If things seem to get stranger and stranger all the time in the world of politics, just check out some of the quirky behaviors of past U.S. Presidents.
For instance, some of these eccentricities include the following:
1. Lyndon B. Johnson Showed Off His Scar After Gallbladder Surgery
Undergoing surgery to get rid of his gallbladder in 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson displayed his foot-long lesion to flashing cameras and the press. Not only did the event produce a few gasps, it also led to some stomach churns and uneasy laughs.
2. Calvin Coolidge Started His Day By Having His Noggin Shined with Petroleum Jelly
Each morning, Coolidge had a White House staffer apply vaseline to his head while he breakfasted in bed. The President believed that the greasy substance was good for his health. Known as a man who acted decisively, Coolidge never lost his grip, as he never applied the jelly himself.
3. Gerald Ford Was a Klutz and Golf Hazard
According to a New York Times article in 1974, Gerald Ford, who was Vice-President at the time, socked a 17-year-old spectator with a golf ball while teeing off at a celebrity golf tournament. He did not know about the mishap until aides informed him about the incident. The injured teen suffered a minor bump on the head.
Later, the same day, the Vice President struck a golf cart carrying a police officer when teeing off at the 16th hole. Fortunately, he missed hitting the officer.
He also tumbled on the ski slopes, fell on the rain-slick steps of Air Force One, and bumped his head on the rear platform of a train while entering the locomotive.
The accidents the former President experienced seemingly caused him to stumble into his roles as Vice President and President – both of which he assumed without being elected.
To his credit, the former POTUS was a superior athlete and received an MVP award in 1934 while playing football for the Michigan Wolverines during his senior year. He also survived two assassination attempts.
Therefore, you can’t totally tag Ford with the descriptive “klutz.” His predecessor, Spiro T. Agnew accidentally whacked golf pro Doug Sanders in the back of the head during a 1970 match and injured three spectators at another golf tournament.
Agnew’s first errant shot slashed through a tightly-packed crowd and hit one bystander and his wife on the forearm and arm, respectively. Agnew kissed the lady on her arm as an apology.
He then repeated himself, directing his wayward golf ball into the left ankle of another woman spectator. She was released in satisfactory condition after medical care a short time later. Out of frustration, the Vice President threw down his driver and sped off down the fairway surrounded by his security entourage.
4. Woodrow Wilson Played with Black Golf Balls
Another avid golfer, former President Woodrow Wilson weathered both glacial winds and the cold – he painted his golf balls black so he could spot the balls while playing in the snow.
5. Poker Player, Warren Harding, Gave Up the White House China
Legend says that Warren G. Harding, the 29th U.S. President, gambled away the White House china during poker play. The scandal-ridden chief executive won a landslide victory in the 1920 election for President, He died, while in office, of a heart attack at the age of 57.
6. Andrew Jackson Taught His Parrot Some Colorful Language
Andrew Jackson had an African gray pet parrot he called Poll who he bought for his wife, Rachel. After her death, Poll started mimicking some of the seventh President’s salty expressions. The profane bird was removed from Jackson’s funeral service for being disruptive.
7. Abe Lincoln Used His Stovepipe Hat for Storing Documents and Speeches
There’s a reason why stovepipe hats were popular during the Lincoln presidency. Known for his chaotic way of organizing papers, the former lawyer kept important documents in the tall hat – something which came in handy while delivering speeches. It’s not known if the Gettysburg Address was stored in the combination head covering and attache.
8. President John Quincy Adams Liked to Skinny Dip
John Quincy Adams liked to skinny dip for cleanliness and health. He took early morning swims during the warmer times of the year in the nearby Potomac River. In fact, he liked the activity so much that he worked up to swimming in the stream for one hour each day. A couple times, the tides almost swept his clothes away. He substituted the activity with walking during the fall and winter months.
9. President Benjamin Harrison Had Possums for Pets
Two pet opossums, Mr. Protection and Mr. Reciprocity, called the White House home during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison. Both the First Family and the country loved the two well-known marsupials.
10. Andrew Jackson’s Favorite Meal Was Leather Britches
While eating leather britches sounds more than just a little quirky, the term really refers to green beans cooked with bacon – a savory and common dish during Jackson’s presidency. It pales by comparison to William Henry Harrison’s love of squirrel stew – a common meat at the time in many recipes.
Author: Donna Ryan
Author Bio: Donna Ryan is a writer and journalist who resides in Tucson, AZ.