Thursday, June 20, 2013

George Washington's Dentures

George Washington's dentures were made from walrus, hippopotamus, and cows' teeth, as well as elephant tusks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How Do We Experience God?

How Do We Experience God?

Billy Graham and the Presidents

Billy Graham and the Presidents

The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. has a special exhibit running through October 2012 that showcases Billy Graham's relationship with all the U.S. Presidents since Harry Truman.

BY: Ruth Graham
Billy Graham
The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. has a special exhibit running through October that showcases my father's relationship with all the U.S. Presidents since Harry Truman. It is fascinating. Even to me!
As you go through the exhibit you may begin to wonder how my father came to have these relationships. Did he seek them? Did he place himself at the right place at the right time? Did he have "connections"? And then you may ask, "What does it take to be a friend of a President?" Not just one President, but 12! What kind of man is he?
Beliefnet has asked me to give my "inside" perspective on this. I cannot give the relationship details... I don't have any. You will get far more details by going to the exhibit. What I can talk about is what kind of man has those relationships. (I wrote a book about him a few years ago, Legacy of Faith, Things I Learned from My Father that talks more about the man I know him to be.)
The reason I have few, if any, details is that my father kept those relationships and conversations in strictest confidence. That is why the Presidents trusted him. They knew what they said to him went into a "black hole". They felt safe with him. He has written some details in his memoir, Just As I Am, as he let time provide the privacy and perspective that granted some objectivity and grace. He held these relationships as a sacred trust given to him by God. These friendships were not for his own purposes but to walk with these fellow human beings humbly, prayerfully as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My father is a very intelligent man and thinks strategically however, he knows he is not brilliant in the manner of some but he is a life-long learner and a voracious reader. It is sad that macular degeneration has taken away his ability to read in these last years. But he is a keen observer of things around him and insightful. He is never threatened to be around those more intelligent than he is but enjoys their views and always asks good questions, listening intently to answers.
With all that has surrounded him, the crowds he has attracted, the fame, the popularity, the attention, he has remained a genuinely humble man. What you see is what you get. He is the same in private as he is in public. He never assumes people know who he is or remember him. He once called a friend of my older sister. When this friend answered the phone he said, "This is Billy Graham. Do you remember me?" That was genuine. He sees himself as a farm boy from North Carolina. He is a simple man. If you were to walk into his bedroom at home to find a souvenir you would soon see that there is nothing of monetary value. Surrounding him are photographs of hisfamily, my mother's portrait hangs over the fireplace across from his bed, and some Bibles as well as a few books. He has not accumulated "stuff". His favorite meal is a grilled hotdog and baked beans! He is a simple man.
Presidents deal with complicated issues and egos all day. Their schedules are jammed packed with people with agendas and those who seek to advance their own causes. My father considered himself aspiritual advisor and friend. He did not judge them or seek favors for himself or give unsolicited advice. He felt he could best serve them by limiting his advice to spiritual matters. Once over dinner President Johnson asked him a political question and my father started to answer but felt a kick under the table - my mother!
He admired and respected each President - that does not mean he agreed with them on everything. In private they may have discussed their differences and sensitive issues but it was the confidence of a friend he would never violate. I think the secret taping of conversations in the Nixon White House was a shock to my father. Those tapes revealed unguarded moments my father deeply regretted.
Their relationships involved fun, too. My father was a good golfer and enjoyed playing with each President as long as he was able. Mr. Johnson was a great raconteur and joke teller with a deep spiritual side. As a consequence he is the President with whom my father felt the closest. Perhaps their own country roots connected them. My father's father was a raconteur and respected business man in Charlotte so perhaps my father related to that in President Johnson. My father visited the White House more frequently under President Johnson than any other president.
These relationships did not begin when the men became President. Most of the Presidents my father knew long before they became President. He knew Mr. Nixon's mother who introduced the two when Mr. Nixon was a Congressman. He knew Mr. Reagan while an actor in Hollywood. He knew Mr. Ford as a Congressman. He was introduced to Mr. Kennedy as a Senator by a mutual friend. He knew Mr. Carter and Mr. Clinton as governors of their states when he held meetings in there.
From what they have said and written the presidents have returned the respect and admiration. My father loved each one and felt their burdens and suffering. He agonized with them as they made tough decisions. He didn't judge them; he prayed with them and for them. He embraced their families, being available at any time for any one of them. President George H. W. Bush called my father to the White House the night before he sent troops into Iraq. He wanted my father's presence and prayers. President George W. Bush was deeply impacted in his spiritual journey by a conversation he had with my father while walking on the beach. (My father loved to walk the beach.) The Bushfamily called him to visit in Maine during the summers and enjoyed having him lead them in family devotions that often turned into a Q&A about spiritual matters.
When I was little, then Vice-President Nixon visited our home in N.C. But because of my young age I was sent away for the day. I grew up feeling short-changed. In 1968 I finally had the chance to meet him when he attended the Pittsburg crusade my father was holding in that city. Much later I became friends with his daughter, Julie, attending her wedding and the White House gala for Princess Anne and Prince Charles. Later we shared "young mother" times with our small children at each other's homes.
As a family we did not "hob nob" with my father's friends but did have the privilege of visiting the White House on a number of occasions. Mr. Nixon used to hold church services in the East Room of the White House and we were included several times. In November of 2001, President G. W. Bush invited the whole family to the White House for dinner celebrating my father's birthday. It was just a small gathering of family and a few friends. It was memorable in every way. The President and First Lady were warm, gracious and seemed relaxed as we talked and laughed. I could see for myself the easy, affectionate relationship the president had with my parents. He was tenderly attentive to my mother who was suffering and in a wheelchair for the evening; he was deeply respectful of my father.
I have never heard him be critical of any President. And if we are critical he reminds us that they carry heavy burdens and we should pray for them. Each of his children has strong political opinions and would love to tell him how he should vote but none of us knows for sure! He plans to keep it that way.
So many many father is loyal to each one, caring for them, praying for them and that will continue until he goes to Heaven.
Read more from Ruth Graham on her Safe Place blog on Beliefnet.

CHAPTER 9: Portions of BJ's Next Book The Presidents & First Ladies: President Henry Harrison, 9th president of the United States.

This is a chapter in my next children's history book about the Presidents and First Ladies which is a chapter book of historical moments in a fantasy genre for young readers:

 BJ rode up on Dobbin to listen to the inauguration address of President Henry Harrison, 9th president of the United States. As the president approached the end of the 2 hour speech, BJ was impressed as he closed with these words: "Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with the high office, to which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my exhalted station, according to the best of my ability, and I shall enter upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just and generous people."

 "Dobbin that was a long speech. I thought it would never end. I want to see if the President will let me go inside, where it is warm so I can ask him some questions," said BJ, as she tied Dobbin to the hitching post, as others did.
 "Mr. President, Mr. President, my name is BJ and that's my pony Dobbin, may I come inside where it is warm and ask you some questions?"

"Of course, my child. Let's get in out of this damp March air. I have had a cold and am also chilled." After he took her coat, the President led BJ to the parlor. "What are some of the questions you have for me, BJ?"

"I want to know as much about your life as you can tell me," said BJ, as she took a chair.

"I'll start by telling you that I was born on the Berkeley Plantation, in Charles County, Virginia on February 9, 1773. I married Anna Tuthill Symmes on November 25, 1795 and we had 10 children. I became Governor of the Indiana Territory in 1801 and served 12 years." "Wow, that's a long time to serve! What were your duties as Governor?" "My main task was to obtain titles to Indian lands."

"Why did you need a title?"

"So settlers could press forward into the wilderness. The Indians retaliated, but I was responsible for defending the settlement. In the end Tecumseh was killed in the battle of Tippecanoe. That's where my nickname 'Old Tip' came from, and the campaign slogan for Vice-President Tyler and me...'Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too.'"

"Who was Tecumseh?"

"He was one of the most feared military leaders in American history. He led a series of wars against the United States, during the war of 1812. He united dozens of Native American tribes in the Great Lakes region."

"What tribe was he from?" asked BJ.

"He was born in Ohio into the Shawnee tribe. Like many other Native Americans he thought that the sudden arrival of so many settlers was a threat to his tribe. He and his brother Tenskwatawa, battled against the whites and was said to have made the statement, 'let the white race perish, because they will take over our land.'"

"Mr. President I missed the beginning of your Inaguaral speech. Could you tell me what it was basically about?"

"BJ, I will break it down for you, since it was a 2 hour speech. And I also want you to know that Daniel Webster edited my Inaguaral address. My speech begins by describing how America's democracy is special. Then, it outlines problems with the government and solutions for them."

"And now could you tell me what your wife's duties as First Lady will be?"

"BJ, my wife's health is not good. My daughter-in-law Jane Irwin Harrison will take over the duties of the First Lady, whatever those might be as hostess for all our functions. My wife never made her home here in Washington, because of her illness."

"I am so sorry to hear about your wife's health, but I know that Miss Jane will do the job well, if you have given the job to her. I would like to ask you about your education."

"I received a classical education at Hampden-Sidney College, Virginia and began a medical course at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Philadelphia, before leaving for the army in 1791."

"'I know you must be tired, but I would like to know about the kinds of food you like."

"BJ, I am very tired. I think I have caught a cold from doing my own marketing. I am 68 years old and in this campaign I have not weathered it well. I tire easily, but insist on continuing my daily walks to the market, to select my own steaks and chops for breakfast. I do this very early in the morning, when it is still damp and cool and prefere not to wear an overcoat. But, I love to make my own selections. During my campaign in Wheeling, West Virginia the feast became most elaborate."

"Sounds like everybody must have had a good meal, huh?"

"Oh yes BJ. We had 30,000 voters, our marketing consisted of 360 hams, 20 calves, 25 sheep, 1500 pounds of beef, 1000 pounds of cheese, 8000 pounds of bread and 4500 pies. My favorite election dish was my Electioneering Burgoo. It's easily made and is basically a spicy stew. It is easily expandable to the size of the crowd. Anything you have on hand can be added to it. Remind me to give you the recipe to take home. But BJ, I must stop now and get my rest. Please come back again someday and we will continue our visit."

"Oh thank-you, Mr. President. I would love to come back when you're feeling better," said BJ, as the president led her to the front door.

"Good-bye, yelled BJ, as she rode off on Dobbin. One morning the news came that President William Henry Harrison had died of complications from pneumonia, after only a month as the new President... to be continued in my next book about the presidents and first ladies!
  • Betty Riordan
    Note: BJ is a little girl with a rocking horse who loves to imagine that Dobbin becomes a real pony and trots off with her into imaginary  moments of history.
    This will be my second children's history book about the Presidents and First Ladies. My first book is The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin which is available several places including Amazon.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 14: this day in history

Jun 14, 1922:
Harding becomes first president to be heard on the radio

On this day in 1922, President Warren G. Harding, while addressing a crowd at the dedication of a memorial site for the composer of the "Star Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, becomes the first president to have his voice transmitted by radio. The broadcast heralded a revolutionary shift in how presidents addressed the American public. It was not until three years later, however, that a president would deliver a radio-specific address. That honor went to President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1920, radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, announced that Harding was the official winner of that year's presidential election. it was the first time election returns were broadcast live. Harding was an advocate for advanced technology. In 1923, he recorded a speech on an early "phonograph" that recorded and played back sound on wax discs. Harding was also the first president to own a radio and was the first to have one installed in the White House.

According to the White House Historical Association, the way presidents have communicated to the public has changed with each advance in technology over the years. In early America, presidents such as George Washington and James Monroe traveled by horseback or carriage to address crowds in person and published statements in "broadsheets" and early newspapers. Lincoln had the relative advantage of traveling by locomotive or using the telegraph. Telephones appeared in the White House in 1877 while Rutherford B. Hayes was president. Like Harding, President William Taft used the phonograph to distribute recordings of his speeches. However, the most rapid advancement in communication for presidents occurred in the 20th century.

With the invention of radio and television and then the internet, politicians could transmit information instantaneously. Franklin Roosevelt proved a master at utilizing the radio during the 1930s and 1940s. Many credit John F. Kennedy's "telegenic" good looks and calm demeanor in televised presidential debates for his victory in the 1960 presidential election. Bill Clinton was the first president to set up a White House website.

Improvements in communication technology have also allowed presidents to reach substantially greater numbers of their constituents: In 1829, President Andrew Jackson spoke to approximately 10,000 people at his inauguration. Harding's Francis Scott Key memorial dedication was heard by 125,000. President Coolidge's inaugural radio address reached 23 million via the radio. White House historians estimate that if George Washington had addressed a crowd of 1,000 people every day during his three month pre-inaugural tour of the country in 1789, he would have been heard by only 100,000 Americans. By comparison, media poll groups estimate that as many as 26 million viewers watched President George W. Bush's State of the Union address in 2006.

Presidential Events in History

This Week in History, Jun 14 - Jun 20

Jun 14, 1922
Harding becomes first president to be heard on the radio
Jun 15, 1775
George Washington assigned to lead the Continental Army
Jun 16, 1858
Lincoln warns that America is becoming a "house divided"
Jun 17, 1943
FDR's secretary of war stifles Truman's inquiry into suspicious defense plant

Harding becomes first president to be heard on the radio1922
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson gives Flag Day address1917
Germans enter Paris1940

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chapter 16 President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd of BJ and Dobbin Visit the Presidents & First Ladies

Chapter 16

President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd

BJ was excited as she opened the mail from the office of President Lincoln. It read: President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln invite you to join them for dinner at the President's House at 6:00 with an evening at Ford Theatre for the comedy 'Our American Cousin.'

"Oh Dobbin, can you believe it? I'm invited to go with them to the theater?" she said to her pony as she tied him to the hitching post. It was time to go inside and get ready for the evening. "What shall I wear?" she thought, as she looked through her dresses. Since it would be a very elegant evening. She chose a black and white striped silk dress.

Dobbin was already saddled up and they were off to see the President and First Lady. As they entered the long drive the stable boy was there to take him to the stables.  She told Dobbin she would return in a little while.

She then knocked on the front door and someone answered. "Hello. My name is BJ and this is my pony Dobbin. I've been invited to have dinner with the President and First Lady."
She was led into the dining room where Mary Todd was there to greet her.

"Please join us at the table BJ, we're glad you accepted our invitation for dinner and the theater tonight," said Mary Todd. Your mother had requested an invitation for you personally to see us."

"Oh thank-you, will anyone else be joining us tonight?" asked BJ, as she took her place at the table, confused that the President wasn't there.

"Yes BJ," answered President Lincoln, as he entered the room and shook hands with her. Nice that you could join us. We had invited Ulysses S. Grant and his wife tonight, but he declined because of other plans. We then decided to ask a younger couple to go in their place. Grant will be at my Cabinet meeting tomorrow, though."

"Hasn't it been a beautiful day? Did you enjoy your journey over on your pony?" asked Mary Todd Lincoln.

"Yes I certainly did. The dogwoods and the lilacs were in full bloom and gave off such a beautiful scent. The willow trees along the Potomac River also were beautiful with their branches full of green leaves. It's been a beautiful spring day."

BJ was very anxious to ask the President some questions, as they started their meal. “Mr. President, would you mind if I ask you about all the things you have on your schedule today, so I will have an idea what a President's duties are?"

"That's the only way you will learn, BJ. My day started at 8:00 when I had my breakfast of 1 egg and coffee. My wife and 2 sons, Robert 21 and Tad 12, joined me. At that time Mary told me that she had tickets to for the Grover's Theatre, but that she would rather see the comedy playing at the Ford Theatre, OUR AMERICAN COUSINS. She also wanted General and Mrs. Robert E. Lee to go with us, but they declined because they had other plans. So, Mary invited another couple in their place. After reading the newspaper at 9:00 I conducted my business as usual, meeting visitors. At 10:00 I met with the former New Hampshire Senator John P. Hale, who was recently appointed minister of Spain. His daughter Lucy is engaged to be married to John Wilkes Booth, an actor at the Ford Theatre where we will be attending tonight."

"Oh, will he be in the show tonight?" asked BJ.

"No, he is not in the show tonight. I then sent a messenger to reserve the State Box for the evening performance."

"The management was elated when they heard the news of a special guest tonight," said Mary Todd.

"The President continued about his schedule. "At 11:00 I met with my Cabinet, where lots of ideas were proposed to begin the process of reconciliation the North and South. We also discussed Confederacy. I told them that enough lives had been sacrificed. Our meeting continued until 2:00. I finished by asking Grant to describe the details of General Lee's surrender, which I can't discuss with you BJ. We were still not finished but whenVice-President Andrew Johnson arrived he decided to take a walk until we were finished with our business. Then after meeting with him, I went for a carriage ride with Mary. BJ that pretty much sums up my day," said the President.

"It sounds like a President's job is full of meetings. They sure have a hard job. Now, what can you tell me about your life Mr. President?"

"Well young lady, I was born on February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both from Virginia and very poor. My mother died when I was 10 years old. Her maiden name was Hanks. At 8 my father moved us from Kentucky to Indiana, where the region was wild with bears and other wild animals."

"Did you go to school?" asked BJ.

"My pappy only let me go 1 year, because I was needed on the farm; splitting rails for fences and other chores. But, I read all the books I could get my hands on to get my education."

"Tell me about all your political interests?"

"In 1858, I ran against Stephen Douglas for Senator. I lost that election, but BJ in those debates I gained a National reputation that won me the nomination for the President in 1860."

"And what have you accomplished since?" as President?" asked BJ.

"Well, I built my party into a strong national organization. On January 1, 1863 I issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy."

"He also dedicated the military cemetery at Gettysburg. In that dedication he made the statement, 'this nation under God shall never have a new birth of freedom....... and the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth," said Mary Todd, " and in 1864 he won re-election for President of the United States."

The President continued, “and I have been flexible and generous in the planning for peace. I have given the Southerners encouragement in laying down their arms and join speedily in reunion."

Mary Todd continued, "In his second Inaugural Address he said in his speech, 'With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nations wounds,' " she said quoting the President's speech.

"And now tell me a little about your life here in the White House, Miss Mary?" asked BJ.

"Well I can tell you it has not been easy as First Lady. I came from a respected Kentucky family. It's been an uphill battle for me here. I have had to prove to Washington that I do have taste and the style of a First Lady. But, I have tried to carry on the official functions of the President's House. Some say I have spent too much money on renovation here. Then there are others who say because of the civil war going on that I shouldn't have any functions and now in this second term there are those that have seen what I do and support me."

"One of your duties is to be a hostess for the President's Cabinet and others. What are some of the foods you want prepared during those times?" asked BJ.

“The President is really not into food and very indifferent about it, so he leaves it up to me what to prepare. He prefers the simple food of the prairie he was raised on. He very seldom requests anything, except for breakfast if he remembers to eat. He then requests an egg with coffee and sometimes Nob Creek Kentucky corn cakes. His step-mother has always said that whatever is put in front of him he will eat. Once a waiter put a cup of something in front of him and after tasting it said, 'If this is coffee, then I'll have tea, but if this is tea then please bring me some coffee.' It was his polite way of saying that he didn't like it, but he never complains. He was used to prairie foods, but when he was a young man and boarded at the Rutledge Inn in New Salem, some of his friends had said he could never get enough honey."

"That is true. I want to tell you about a funny incident that happened when I was a boy. Once when we only had potatoes on the table to eat, my pappy spoke a blessing to the Lord for potatoes. After he was through, I spoke up and said, 'These are mighty poor blessings.' My pappy never let me forget that. My step-mother made them many ways and as tasty as she could get them, by steaming them in a baker."

"Do you do any of your own marketing, Mr. President?"

"I have something in common with President William Henry Harrison, who by the way only served 1 month in office, because he caught pneumonia and died. I love to do my own marketing because I sometimes like to pick out a great big beefsteak, which usually cost about 10 cents. I
save money by bringing it home myself, instead of having it delivered."

As they finished their meal May Todd said, this has been a nice conversation, but we must now start getting ready for our carriage ride to the theater,

"What are you wearing Mary Todd?" asked BJ.

"I am wearing the same colors as you are BJ. I am wearing a black and white striped silk dress with a matching bonnet."

"Oh that will be fun to be dressed alike. But, I wished I had a bonnet to wear."

"BJ, I have many bonnets. Let's go find one."

"Tell me what the President is wearing?" asked BJ.

"Brooks Brothers made a black wool overcoat for him. He will wear a black suit and white kid gloves.

After they came downstairs the President asked them to get in the carriage, because the guests were already there waiting.

"I have a note I'm leaving for the morning business and I will be right there, because it is already 8:05 and we are running late." said the President.

As the President approached the carriage, BJ told him she had to get back earlier than they did and would ride Dobbin behind the carriage. In the carriage beside the guests were the coachman and the valet. It was now foggy and misty and she hoped she wouldn't get wet.

It was now 8:30 and they had just arrived at the theater. The main doorkeeper greeted them and John Parker led them to the State Box. The play had already started but they stopped suddenly and the orchestra played, HAIL TO THE CHIEF. All 1000 people stood and clapped...  [to be cont.]

*Note: This is a portion of the chapter about Abraham Lincoln, which will be in my next children's history book: BJ and Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. My first children's history book is The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin, available at Amazon.


*Note: This is a portion of the chapter about Abraham Lincoln, which will be in my next children's history book: BJ and Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. My first children's history book is The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin, available at Amazon.

Abraham Lincoln Quote

Photo: As you know, I usually post a coffee cartoon first thing in the morning, while enjoying some of course :) Though most of you post comments like "Amen!" and "I'm on my fifteenth cup!!!!", inevitably someone asks "What about us tea drinkers Jim?". Well since I try to post cartoons that will appeal to the majority of you, it's time to settle the debate once and for all... 

Click "like" and tell me if you prefer COFFEE or TEA?