In a recent post, The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch, one of my favorite bloggers, mentioned having visited seven Presidential homes. Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time will know that among my many quirks is a marked tendency toward Presidential history geekdom. "Seven?" I thought enviously. I had only been to five, and although that's a very small percentage of existing Presidential homes, it was a record among my friends and acquaintances. I resolved to correct this inequity immediately.
I comment on blogs all the time, but I don't often get a chance to check back to see responses to my comments. I commented on Lady's post last week, and didn't think about it again until a few days later, when I decided to see if she'd responded. As it turns out, she responded to my comment with a slightly revised number of Presidential home visits: having realized that Mr. Lincoln never lived in Mary Todd Lincoln's house in Lexington, KY, she removed it from her list, leaving her with six. I responded with my list:
1. JFK's birthplace in Brookline, MA.
2. Richard Nixon's childhood home, on the grounds of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA (and how is it possible that I did not know that the Nixon Library has a second location in College Park, MD? This is an oversight I'll be correcting as soon as possible).
3. Harry Truman's Little White House in Key West, Florida, a tour which I cannot recommend highly enough.
4. Dwight Eisenhower's retirement home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Also excellent.
5. Woodrow Wilson's post-White House home in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC. Wilson was the only President to retire in Washington; the second Mrs. Wilson was a DC native.
(Apropos of nothing: 5yo, fresh from his bath, just ran through the house in his underpants, brandishing a Nerf gun, screaming "ENEMY UNDERWEAR"! He's done this several times in the last week or so. Apparently, the underwear is a patient and deadly foe, and there is no rest for 5yo. La guerre, c'est l'enfer.)
As I was leaving my comment for Lady, I thought to myself "I won't count the Kennedy house on N Street, because I've only walked by it, I've never been inside". (Well, I also thought a little bit about why I was leaving a 300-word comment on a week-old blog post, and why I'm throwing down the Presidential house tour gauntlet to a woman whom I've never actually met, but these are existential questions to be considered at a later time). I also don't count the Kennedy Library in Boston, since it's not a Presidential house. I could, however, count George Washington's HQ at Valley Forge, a place I visited many times as a child, since Washington did live there. So that made us even, at six each.
Even, that is, until I remembered just one more. I've taken the White House tour THREE TIMES. This means that I have visited at least one residence of 43 Presidents (I'm counting Washington's HQ, not the White House, for George Washington, since he never lived in the White House. I'm counting Grover Cleveland as one President, although he served two non-consecutive terms). 43, my friend, 43. I'm the winner of a truly ridiculous contest, against an opponent who didn't know she was competing. Small victories.