Ed Driscoll

Inside of a Dog, It's Too Dark to Read

During our recent interview, Amity Shlaes noted that she pushed the publication date of Coolidge back a year for further research. It’s also possible that outside research into the histories of presidents from a more recent vintage may have also influenced some of the material she chose to incorporate. For example, I can’t help but think that it’s not at all a coincidence that this passage on the young, university-era Coolidge of the 1890s wound-up in her book:

Politics inspired Coolidge to begin to speak publicly. The boardinghouse meals were his start. The ready audience at table afforded him an opportunity to perfect his delivery of jokes. He found he could hold a room’s attention, if only for a minute. A story from that period that Deering later told about Coolidge stands out. One of the places he and Coolidge boarded was the house of a dog fancier, who gave them twenty-one meals a week— too often potato salad, Deering later remembered. One morning their host served sausages for breakfast. Coolidge pounded his table with fork and knife. The diners fell silent as he called the head of the house into the room. He demanded that the owner produce every dog he owned in the dining room before he would eat.

Jim Treacher, call your office.