This week in 1927

This week in 1927, president Coolidge was vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in an attempt to escape the summertime heat of Washington, DC. Besides getting his hair cut by White House valet John Mays while sitting rather conspicuously on the porch of his lodge, Coolidge attended to business, some of which revolved around the farming situation. A delegation of North Dakota farmers informed him that contrary to popular opinion, the McNary-Haugen farm relief bill (which Coolidge adamantly opposed) was not a top concern, but rather the early completion of the Great Lakes/St.Lawrence waterway and the diversion of Missouri water to irrigate central North Dakota. And, attending a farmer rally in Ardmore, SD, the president listened but remained silent as Democratic governor Bulow assailed the “Republican tariff” which, if not repealed, would make necessary the sort of “artificial price-fixing” envisioned by McNary-Haugen.

During his vacation, Coolidge also fell for a harmless hoax:  his usual acknowledgement of meeting strangers while vacationing was to returns their greeting with a polite bow, and he did not not usually stop for a chat. He broke his rule, however, for the sake of a stranger encountered on the steps of the Rapid City High School, temporary White House office. The stranger wore a hat wider even than the President’s ten-gallon fishing headgear. In his silk shirt and flowing neckerchief clashed vivid colors. He wore high-heeled, embossed riding boots bearing the letters “PUT” in white just below each knee. Not even Hollywood could have produced a cowboy attired in more complete accordance with the traditions of his calling.

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Meet Calvin Coolidge… in Rapid City, SD

Update: with a tip of the hat to the folks at the SilentCal blog, it looks like Rapid City will soon be installing a marker to commemorate Coolidge’s historic and unique statement about “not choosing” to run in 1928, a statement he made while vacationing in South Dakota.



Rapid City, SD – not too distant from Mt. Rushmore (where Coolidge is not enshrined, much to my chagrin; but at least he spoke at the beginning of the work there in 1927), has been completing an ambitious project in its historical district: to honor each president of the U.S. with his own statue. South Dakota artist John Lopez created the statue of Calvin Coolidge, who appears to wave his big Stetson hat in a gesture of welcome to Rapid City visitors. Now if that doesn’t pull the throngs to Rapid City, I don’t know what will. And Calvin Coolidge would certainly appreciate that no government funds were spent on this project, as each statue has been privately funded.

Calvin Coolidge statue in Rapid City, SD - corner of 5th and Main Streets