Social and Political Commentary

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U.S. Presidents I remember

 ... an even dozen

by Natalie Thomson

Trying to answer the question about who was the first presidential candidate I remember, forces me to drag up from the depths of memory the names of Alf Landon, Bunny Wilson and large, colorful cardboard sunflowers. The last were souvenirs from the 1936 political gathering that my friend Bunny's parents had attended. They, along with millions of other voters, were convinced that Alf Landon would be our next president.

Even though he had captured the fancy of the five out of six voting members of my Republican family, I couldn't be "for" Landon. His opponent was promising work for my father. I was eight years old. I had to side with my darling Dad-for-the-Democrats.

Three terms in office was the rest of his life and the balance of my childhood. A surprised V.P. from Missouri took his place and ended the violence of WWII with super violence. Next, our responsibility for choosing the former WWII Comander-in-Chief involved a majority of voters who liked him, according to the pins they wore.

There was then another WWII veteran whose family was close to beatification -- or disgrace -- depending on the kind of party one preferred. Following his assassination, a seasoned politician was the next man to hold the country together...until the unpopular conflict in Vietnam mushroomed into a large-scale war with mighty objections from the younger draftable populace.

Other Chief Executives followed, from Eisenhower's grandson's father-in-law to one of my favorite movie stars in his newest award winning role. In between, the former House-Minority-Leader-turned-V.P. finished out his predecessor's "early retirement." Following him was another winner (of only one term), that I've come to admire, in spite of his undignified, beer-drinking late brother. Following the earlier mentioned fine actor, there were father-and-son presidents for the second time - the first being in 1825. In the eight years between the current ones, there served a husband whose helpful wife has since found apparent fulfillment as Senator from her newly chosen residence, the Empire State.

These observations have provided quite a trip even without the sensational details ... acknowledging that there are multiple definitions of the word "trip."

April 2, 2004

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