We’ve only had 8 left-handed ones

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2013

Some years ago as I researched information about presidents of the United States, I found some fascinating facts not included in history books during my school days.

For example, I learned that President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th president, officially gave the White House its name. Previously people had called this historic structure the President’s Palace, the President’s House, and the Executive Mansion. He was the first to ride in a car while in office. He was the youngest president to assume office, stepping in following President William McKinley’s assassination. President John F. Kennedy was the youngest president elected to the office.

When President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom, the ceremony was the first and only presidential nuptials performed in the White House, although numerous relatives of presidents married at the White House through the years. His oldest daughter, Ruth, who died from diphtheria at 12, was the inspiration for the name of the Baby Ruth candy bar. His second child, Esther, was the first baby born in the White House.

James Abram Garfield was the first president to speak on the telephone. When he talked to Alexander Graham Bell, who was at the other end of the line 13 miles away, he asked him to speak a little more slowly. William McKinley was the first president to use a phone for campaign purposes.

President Ulysses S. Grant must have stayed in a smoky fog during his administration. After a report he had puffed on a cigar while in a conflict, gifts of 10,000 fine cigars poured in for him It was said he could smoke 20 cigars a day, trying to put away all those expensive ones given to him by admirers.

William Howard Taft started a presidential tradition pitching out the first ball at the opening of baseball season. President Taft made the pitch at a game between Washington and Philadelphia.

President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucretia, did not drink alcoholic beverages. She served lemonade and other non-alcoholic drinks at the White House, earning herself the nickname “Lemonade Lucy.”

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to ride in an airplane.

James K. Polk, the 11th president, was the first to have his photograph taken.

The first newspaper publisher elected president was Warren G. Harding. He died before completing his tenure in office.

President Benjamin Harrison had the first Christmas tree inside the White House in 1889.

All of the presidents from Ulysses S. Grant to Chester A. Arthur had beards. President Cleveland broke the custom, although he wore a mustache.

Four presidents died by assassination: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy

James A. Garfield was the first left-handed president. Other left-handed presidents were Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. President Barack Obama is also left-handed

President Thomas Jefferson replaced bowing as a gesture for greeting guests at the White House with the practice of shaking hands.