Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Memories—Happy President’s Day


Calvin, Ande and I had this conversation a few years ago at our supper table:

Me: Do you know how many things I’ve discovered I have in common with George Washington?

Ande: Oh Geeeezzzzzz!

Calvin: Oh dear. Be careful what you say Ande. She will remember it.

Me: No, I’m serious. Come on you guys, guess. (Pregnant pause.)

Me: I found I have four things in common with him. See if you can guess them.

Ande: You pray in the middle of the woods?

Me: Oh, I didn’t think of that. Okay . . . make that five things I have in common with him.

Ande: You secretly want to soak your teeth in wine?

Calvin: What? I didn’t know he did that.

Me: No. No. No. Try again.

Ande: You can’t tell a lie?

Me: Nope, but I wish that was one.

Ande: You love your country?

Me: Yes. That’s one of them. Now keep guessing.

Ande: You can make the most out of a dollar bill?

Me: Oh my goodness! I have more in common with him than I realized.

Ande: Hmmmm. I don’t know, Mom. What is it you think you have in common with him?

Calvin: (Standing up to leave the table) Oh boy. I can see it’s time for me to go.

Me: Ah, come on Calvin, see if you can guess at least one before you have to leave.

Calvin: Nope. Abraham Lincoln last week, George Washington this week. Who knows who it will be next week?

Me: (obviously not deterred) Okay, then I’ll just tell you guys. Number 1: He married someone who had been previously married with two children.

Ande: (Raising her eyebrows.) Number 2?

Me: He was 43 when he took command of the Continental Army, and I’m 43.

Ande: And what troops are you leading?

Me: No . . . no . . . I’m 43, I just identify with being 43 that’s all. I cannot imagine being in charge of all the troops at 43.

Ande: Mom, now you’re stretching it. What’s number 3?

Me: (Timidly, because they clearly aren’t agreeing that I have much in common with the very uncommon George Washington, and I am feeling presumptuous). Well, we both feel a connection to West Point.

And that ended that conversation, I didn't dare go for four.


So as to include Abraham Lincoln in this President’s Day post . . .

I had just finished Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin last spring when we attended Abe's graduation at West Point. When we saw this picture at the PX, I started telling Calvin all about it. "This is the only time that Lincoln didn't ask for his cabinet's advice before he made a weighty decision. At this signing Lincoln said, 'Men, this is how it will be' and then asked for their support." I pointed out the different men in the picture and what their relationship with Lincoln was like, and some of their personality idiosyncrasies.

Calvin: You really like him, don't you.

Me: Yup.

We walked around looking at other pictures on display and then Calvin whispered to Abe and Grace to sidetrack me in the uniform section while he secretly bought the picture for me.

It stayed in the mailing tube under our bed waiting for a frame . . . someday. Ty made me a beautiful one for Christmas, so this week Calvin and I took it and the frame to get it matted.

After the owner took the measurements and made the suggestions he said, “Nice frame. Nice wood.”

Nodding towards Calvin who was wandering around the store looking at the art, “Did he make it?”

Me: No. Well, some. Our son made it and Calvin helped him when he needed it.

Mat-man: That’s good wood.

Calvin: (Joining the conversation) Yeah, I know. It’s one of my gun stocks.

Mat-man: (Stroking the wood) You can’t buy wood like this anymore. Your son has some nice tools. That wood is hard to work on—it chips, cracks, splits. He does good work.

And then the man gave us a price estimate of what a frame like that would cost and well . . . it won’t be resting under the bed.

What do you have in common with George Washington?
Have you got any Abe Lincoln mementos (besides pennies) in your home?


Deanna/Mimi said...

I learn so much when I read your blog. Thank you for sharing. The history of our country has always fascinated me and you are definitely bringing more of it into my heart and mind.

michelle said...

I. love. this. post. LOVE. You and your family are so interesting and entertaining, Jane!

That conversation is one to remember, for sure. Hilarious.

I've never once thought of what I might have in common with George Washington. I guess that I've prayed in the woods? You are definitely more like him than I. And I adore that Calvin bought you that print and sacrificed one of his gun stocks for the frame.

Susan said...

Here's something you have in common with Tyson:

He loves all history.

One year, he bought me the picture of George Washington praying in the woods. I know it really means more to him than me, so someday, I'll be giving it back to him. When he has a Real Home.


Becky said...

This is one of my new favorite posts of yours, Jane. I have always felt such a strong respect for these great men who led our country in hard times. It was fun to teach my preschoolers today about them (I gave each of them a penny so I smiled at your question about Abe Lincoln mementos).

I would love to see a picture of that frame!

What do I have in common with George Washington? A deep, reverent love for my country and I desire to better myself (I love his list of rules for good behavior).

Cali said...

"And what troops are you leading?" Ha ha ha. That's still making me laugh. I must admit. I think the closest similarity to you and George Washington was the praying in the woods one. The ones you came up with were a bit of a stretch. HOWEVER, I do love how you stretch yourself to find similarities. As dad always says, "You, Neighbor Jane, are a national treasure."


Anonymous said...

ha ha i loved your post i didnt know if i should commont or not whith all those peopol im not very good at that or if you want me to commit on your blog so i decided to right you on e-mail my hero is gorge whasington my 4 is abelincon thats what i have in commin ps i thout that was so funny when ande said that you both pray in the woods ha oh and thanks for the hug from grace miss you so much tell uncle calvin and andee i said hi maddie

Jill said...

I love it that one of Ande's guesses was that you pray in the woods! That says so much about you as a mother.

I can't wait to see the framed print when it's finished.

michelle said...

I came back to read these comments and saw that Calvin calls you a national treasure. sigh. I concur.

Alisa said...

Ahh- I love this post. National Treasure, indeed. I pulled up another post this morning to explain something to my family.

emily said...

I love that you know so much about history. That's so great that you make it a part of your life.

Lucy said...

I really do admire your reverence for President Lincoln. Including the humor and love from a family conversation into a president's day blog post is pretty fine writing, Jane. It makes me extra thankful for our former presidents and for you too.

Janiece said...

sorry it has been so long between visit...I wish I had not missed this post...
thank you for the reminder!

Ande Payne said...

Haha. I had forgotten about that conversation. I'm pretty funny, huh? Thanks for writing ALL of these things donw. From how funny I think I am to how much you love those men.

Rachel said...

I too am like George Washington. I have four fake teeth!!