Metro-East Living

Fun presidential facts for Presidents’ Day

1. Harry S. Truman had no middle name. His parents gave him the middle initial S to honor his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. Harry didn’t use a period after the initial. After he was elected president, the editors of the Chicago Style Manual informed Truman that omitting the period was improper grammar and a bad example for America’s youth. From that moment on, the 33rd president signed his name Harry S. Truman or put all the letters in his name together as in HarrySTruman.

2. James Madison was the smallest president. He was 5-foot-4 and weighed less than 100 pounds.

3. Regular physical exercise for John Quincy Adams was swimming naked in the Potomac River.

4. Grover Cleveland was the first president to be married in the White House. He married the youngest first lady in U.S. history, Frances Folsom, when she was 21 and he was 49.

5. Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy conducted the first Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. It became a tradition that continues today on the Monday after Easter.

6. Andrew Johnson was a tailor. He made his own clothes for much of his life. He even sewed some of his clothes while president.

7. Benjamin Harrison was the first president to use electricity in the White House, installed by Edison General Electric Co. However, he and his wife would not touch the light switches for fear of being electrocuted and often went to bed with the lights on.

8. Jimmy Carter was denied being selected high school class valedictorian because he played hooky and went to a movie.

9. Chester Arthur gave no inaugural address.

10. Dwight Eisenhower was the only president to have served in both world wars.

11. The Marquis de Lafayette gave John Quincy Adams a pet alligator. The alligator lived in the White House for several months.

12. James Buchanan was the only president who did not marry.

13. Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born an American citizen.

14. Gerald Ford worked as a fashion model to help pay for law school. He was on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and in the pages of Look.

15. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who later became president. The both died on the same day — July 4, 1826 — exactly 50 years after they signed the Declaration.

16. Abraham Lincoln was the first president with a beard.

17. Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. When he became president, the Jelly Belly company came out with a new flavor — blueberry. Reagan then was able to have red, white and blue jelly beans in a jar on his desk.

18. Theodore Roosevelt and his family had more than 40 pets in the White House: birds, guinea pigs, a badger, pony, one-legged rooster, pig, raccoon, cats, dogs, rats and snakes.

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