Monday, February 23, 2009

Presidential trivia quiz

2/11/09 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

I have whined about this subject before so you just know that I’m going to bring it up again. It’s February — President’s Day month — and after all these years, I’m still bent out of shape that Congress in its infinite wisdom screwed up our two favorite presidents’ birthday celebrations.

Once upon a time our country celebrated holidays on the date that something actually happened. All of that changed in 1971 when the Uniform Holidays Act went into effect. At the whim of Congress (who never met a Monday that they didn’t like) anything of importance had to be celebrated on a long weekend. Veterans Day (formerly known as Armistice Day) is one of the few holidays that has not been changed to a Monday.

This year President’s Day conveniently falls on Feb. 16. According to President Nixon and congress’ decree, it commemorates all former presidents. For us old timers, it is sort of a generic one size fits all party. Formerly, only two outstanding and historic presidents were actually honored across the nation on their birthdays: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

George Washington was the first and only President to have his birthday officially celebrated by the federal government. Every year school kids prepared for the Feb. 22 holiday by learning about our first president. We all related to the fabled tale of how he chopped down the cherry tree but wasn’t punished because he told the truth. And we could all picture the cold, courageous general as he plowed through the icy Delaware River during the Revolutionary War.

Abraham Lincoln’s Feb.12 birthday was never a federal holiday. It was and is, however, celebrated as a legal holiday in many states.

Lincoln’s life and subsequent election was the stuff that legends are made of. Stories of his boyhood are legion and appealing to children and adults. He lived in a log cabin; only attended school for a total of one year and his mother died when he was a nine-year old youngster. There was no Ivy League education for him.

In spite of all these hindrances or perhaps because of them, he became America’s most beloved president. He was that rare political figure with a tender heart who had strength of spirit and character. He didn’t back down from a fight when the cause was right but agonized over the toll of the battle. His Emancipation Proclamation and freeing of the slaves came at a great cost to him as well as the country.

This year is the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Tomorrow we celebrate his 200th birthday and Washington D.C. is getting ready to throw him a really big party. The National Park Service will celebrate the 16th president’s birthday on Feb 12 at the Lincoln Memorial and events are being planned for the entire year.

I can tally 12 presidents who have served our country during my lifetime. It’s been a while since I was in school so naming them in sequence was a challenge. Try it and see how many you can name beginning with FDR. The list follows.

And once you have your brain all warmed up, check out the following presidential trivia questions. Then try the quiz on your friends. By that time you’ll know the answers and can grin as they fumble their way through it. Answers are at the bottom of the column.

1. Which president took nude early morning swims in the Potomac River?
A. George Washington
B. John Quincy Adams
C. James Madison’
D. James Garfield

2. Which president’s lunch often consisted of cottage cheese smothered in ketchup?
A. Dwight Eisenhower
B. Calvin Coolidge
C. Richard Nixon
D. Bill Clinton

3. Which president is on the $100,000 bill?
A. Grover Cleveland
B. Woodrow Wilson
C. Lyndon Johnson
D. None. It never existed

4. Which president is the only president to have worn a Nazi uniform?
A. John F. Kennedy
B. George W. Bush
C. Jimmy Carter
D. Ronald Reagan

5. Which president was given the first raise in U.S. history?
A. John Quincy Adams
B. Theodore Roosevelt
C. Ulysses S. Grant
D. Abraham Lincoln

6. What was the name of the Lincoln Family dog?
A. Lee
B. Fido
C. Kent
D. Charlie

7. Who survived two assassination attempts by two different women in just over two weeks?
A. Gerald Ford
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. Ronald Reagan
D. William Howard Taft

8. Who considered joining the KuKlux Klan to advance his political career?
A. Harry Truman
B. James Buchanan
C. Herbert Hoover
D. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

9. Who was Lincoln’s first Vice President?
A. William R. King
B. Hannibal Hamlin
C. Andrew Johnson
D. Ulysses S. Grant

10. Which president painted a portrait of Abraham Lincoln?
A. John F. Kennedy
B. Benjamin Harrison
C. Dwight D. Eisenhower
D. Calvin Coolidge

Presidents #32-#44 in numerical order:
Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush

Answers to presidential quiz:
1. B (Adams)
2. C (Nixon)
3. B (Wilson)
4. D (Reagan in a movie)
5. C (Grant)
6. B (Lincoln)
7. A (Ford)
8. A (Truman)
9. B (Hamlin)
10. C (Eisenhower)

I failed this test miserably with a measly 50-percent score. So congratulations if you got more than 5 correct answers!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

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