By Ted Streuli
Dolan Media Newswires
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK-- If you're old enough, you remember that George Washington's birthday was Feb. 22 and when we were in grade school we celebrated it by cutting his silhouette out of construction paper. The construction paper was often red, in apparent tribute to the infamous cherry tree or, possibly, because that was the color teachers still had on hand when we stopped cutting out Valentine's Day hearts.
If you remember that, you likely remember that Abraham Lincoln's birthday was Feb. 12 and was also celebrated with the traditional cutting of the silhouette. Their birthdays never once fell on the same day until we invented Presidents Day and now everyone's birthday is on Monday. I have no idea what we're doing with all the leftover construction paper.
This being the week of the hereinabove mentioned Monday, I'm serving up some things you didn't know about your presidents.
Martin Van Buren was the first president who was born as a U.S. citizen. All his predecessors were born British subjects.
James Garfield was the first president to talk on the phone. On the other end was Alexander Graham Bell, who was 13 miles away. Garfield is known to have asked Bell to speak more slowly. The rumor that he asked for more construction paper is merely speculative.
The first president inaugurated in Washington, D.C., was Thomas Jefferson.
Bushusuru is a fairly new Japanese word that refers to vomiting in public. Literally it means to do the Bush thing, a reference to when then-president George H.W. Bush became ill and threw up on the prime minister of Japan.
The largest president was William Howard Taft, at 325 pounds.
The shortest president was James Madison, who stood 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed just 100 pounds. Lincoln, at 6 feet, 4 inches, was tallest.
The shortest inaugural speech, 133 words, was made by George Washington and given in less than two minutes.
John F. Kennedy was not the youngest president as is commonly believed. He was the youngest to be elected president, but Theodore Roosevelt assumed the office at age 42 when William McKinley was assassinated.
Garfield was able to write in Latin with one hand while simultaneously writing in Greek with the other.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's image appears on the 10-cent coin as a congressional tribute to the work he did for the March of Dimes.
Since 1900, the only president without a college degree was Harry S. Truman.
Jimmy Carter, born in 1924, was the first president born in a hospital.
Bill Clinton was the first Democrat to win re-election since FDR.
Garfield kept a dog named Veto at the White House.
James Buchanan, the only White House bachelor, kept a herd of elephants that were a gift from the king of Siam.
The first Siamese kitten to reach America was a pet of Rutherford Hayes.
Rebecca and Horace were raccoons, kept by Calvin Coolidge.
Eight presidents have died in office, four by assassination.
Harvard, with seven, has had more presidents as students than any other college. Yale is second, with five.
The most common religion among presidents has been Episcopalian, followed by Presbyterian.
Kennedy and Taft are the only presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Teddy bears are the namesake of Theodore Roosevelt, whose widely reported refusal to shoot a bear cub was the inspiration for the cuddly, stuffed variety.
Among presidential scholars, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and the two Roosevelts are consistently ranked the five best presidents to date. Andrew Johnson, Buchanan and Warren G. Harding usually take the three bottom spots.
No one has ever made a construction paper silhouette of Harding. Probably.
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Published: Mon, Feb 20, 2012