AFF's Brainwash :: Gene Healy: Reading Calvin Coolidge in a Starbucks: I recently had what may have been the geekiest moment in a life that's been full of them. Sitting in a Starbucks, I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes reading Calvin Coolidge's autobiography. (And no, I'm not going to explain why I was reading it. I have my reasons). The book's mostly pretty platitudinous, but there is a passage about the death of his son where Silent Cal's Old Wasp reserve cracks just slightly. You can tell that as a dad, he wasn't full of hugs, but the pain and anger that lie under the surface of these words is all the more palpable for the tight-lipped refusal to let it gush forth:
My own participation [in the campaign] was delayed by the death of my son Calvin, which occurred on the seventh of July. He was a boy of much promise, proficient in his studies, with a scholarly mind, who had just turned sixteen.
He had a remarkable insight into things.
The day I became President he had just started to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow laborers said to him, "if my father was President I would not work in a tobacco field," Calvin replied, "If my father were your father, you would."...
We do not know what might have happened to him under other circumstances, but if I had not been President, he would not have raised a blister on his toe, which resulted in blood poisoning, playing lawn tennis in the South Grounds.
In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not.
When he went the power and the glory of the Presidency went with him.
The ways of Providence are often beyond our understanding. It seemed to me that the world had need of the work that it was probable he could do.
I do not know why such a price was exacted for occupying the White House.
How much richer are all of us today than Calvin Coolidge, for we don't have to worry about our sixteen-year-olds dying of blood poisoning from an infected blister that developed while playing tennis?