tv The Presidency Calvin Coolidge Descendant CSPAN November 26, 2021 9:02am-9:17am EST
create new cultural practices. >> the full tour online. did you know you can listen to lectures in history on the go? stream it as a podcast anywhere, any time. you are watching american history tv. what is your relationship to calvin coolidge? >> i am his great granddaughter. my mother was one of two girls who were the grandchildren of the coolidges. >> where do you live? >> i live in new hampshire. >> how far away from plymouth notch? >> a little over an hour. it's a nice distance to be able to get over there for events. >> we are talking at the white house association presidential site summit. your first visit. how associated are you with presidential descendents?
>> i have been going to missouri for a few years to meet with some of the other presidential descendents. we gather there for a cherry blossom festival. there's usually a panel of presidential descendents. it's a lot of fun. we talk about how our descendents are from the presidents and what it's like and how we carry on the legacy. that is about all i have done so far. >> what is it like to be a presidential descendent? >> it's like having a double identity, for me. i'm a stay at home mom. i do a lot of volunteer work. my everyday life, i work in my school. then there are special events that come up that allow me to travel and meet some really unique people, which i'm forever grateful for.
other descendents, other people of importance in various waukz of life. not so many politicians, but some leaders and that kind of thing. >> has this been an interest throughout your life, or did you grow into it as you aged? >> it's been an interest throughout my life. but i did sort of grow into it a little bit as i have gotten older. my mother and aunt, they both passed away prematurely. they were in their late 50s with my aunt, she passed away. my mom was 61 when she passed. at the time, i was about 30. i decided that it was time for me to take the torch and carry on the legacy, because there's -- there was no one else doing it. >> what is the legacy of calvin coolidge? what's the message you want
people to know about your great grandfather? >> i want people to know that he was a very decent, down to earth human being and that he was a very likeable gentleman. he was able to work with all sorts of people on both sides of the aisle, which i find very refreshing. he was able to get votes from both parties at the time. he was kind of like the boy next door that people just wanted to -- he was very likeable. he did not seem very intimidating. he did have a very dry wit, new england sense of humor. he was shy. did not enjoy small talk very much. but did have his very own opinion about certain things. >> could you tell me the story
of how the plymouth notch historical society came to be? your family was very involved. >> yes. it was in 1960 by my grandfather, john coolidge, but also there were some other people involved. one of the first ladies. i can't recall which one. was involved in creating the foundation. at first, it was the calvin coolidge memorial foundation. only was it within the past couple of years we have changed the name to the calvin coolidge presidential foundation. >> it is an entire small village when you visit. what is the story that it's trying to tell about the coolidge presidency and calvin coolidge's upbringing? >> the story it portrays is that the site is very simple.
it's portrayed as a the place where he grew up. it's exactly -- almost exact replica of his boyhood home. it has been kept that way for -- purposely, because we feel it very important for people to understand that anyone can km from very humble beginnings, whether they be a farmer -- very simple beginnings. you never know. he never expected to grow up to be president. so this is a very simple place where you can see that anyone can get started anywhere. it's very modest. not pretenuous at all. >> your great grandfather's biographer says it demonstrates how hard life was for farmers of that era in that harsh new
england climate. can you talk about that? >> it really was. there was -- he did a lot of working with horses and with cattle, mostly dairy cattle. he also did a lot of maple tapping. it's told he could get more maple out of a tree than anybody in the area, which was a really good story. he really -- he had to bring in the wood for the fire every day to make -- he had to make sure the wood box was filled and ready to go. so he had these farm chores that he was expected to do. it's also the place where he took the oath of office. >> can you tell me that story? >> i would love to. because it's so unique. they received word that president harding had passed
away out in california in san francisco. a telegraph was sent to bridgewater, vermont. there was a deliverer from bridgewater who brought that telegraph up to plymouth. so there was a knock on the door at the homestead. the coolidges were visiting vice president coolidge's father, john. so it was early in the morning on august 3rd, 1923. they got a knock on the door. the father answered the door and said, what's going on? he was informed that harding had passed away. so his father went up and woke calvin and shared the news with
him. then they went downstairs. they got dressed, went downstairs and his father administered the oath of office to him. john coolidge was a notary public. so he was -- he felt that under the circumstances, this was something that he could just sort of take care of so that our country wouldn't be without a president. so that was -- that happened. they went back to bed. again, a very modest, small ceremony with just a few reporters, a stenographer, mrs. coolidge. >> when you mention mrs. coolidge, tell me about your great grandmother. >> she was the opposite in character. she was very vivacious and fun-loving. i got stories from my mother who knew grace and was a really fun
grandmother. she was described as a fun grandmother. grace coolidge was a teacher of the deaf, for deaf children, in north hampton, massachusetts, at the clark school for the deaf. she was also the only first lady -- the first first lady to attend a four-year college. that was university of vermont in burlington, vermont. >> she had a great love of animals. >> yes, she did. they had three dogs. they had many animals throughout the years. her most famed animal is probably rebecca the raccoon who she had. they had a variety of dogs and cats in the white house. >> your grandfather john had a brother who died in the white house. >> yes. >> let's close by telling that story.
it was a real tragedy. it was -- i believe it was during the re-election campaign that he passed. >> yes, it was. the boys were -- the brothers were 19 months apart. they were playing tennis on the white house grounds. calvin junior developed a blister on his foot. that was treated but it became infected. the infection started to spread to his body. they had no antibiotics at the time to treat that. a week after getting that blister, he died at walter reed hospital of sepsis. >> he was 12? >> he was 16 years old. >> what do you know, the family lore about how that impacted the coolidges, the presidential family? >> i believe that it put a lot of pressure on john.
he was then seen as the only remaining child. i think a lot of stress and pressure was put on him to be a model first son. i do know that it was a real loss for the president. he blamed himself a lot, because if he had not maybe been in that position, maybe his son would be alive. grace was a real driving factor in terms of saving the family and helping them to move on. she wrote a poem about calvin's death -- calvin junior's death. it was called the open door. she really helped them move on. >> there were a number of presidential families who lost children in the early days.
last one i think being jacqueline kennedy. always wonder how you can deal with that tragedy when you are living under the extreme spotlight of the white house. >> exactly. >> thank you for sharing some of your family stories and your work at continuing his legacy. thanks for your time. >> great. thanks so much for having me. i appreciate it. ♪♪ c-span offers a variety of podcasts that have something for every listener. washington today, the latest from the capitol. every week, book notes plus has interviews with writers about their latest works. the weekly uses audio from our archives to look at how issues of the day developed over years. our occasional series, talking with, features conversations with historians about their lives and work. many of our television programs are also available as podcasts. find them all on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts.
back to this date in history. >> you are looking at a live picture of the berlin wall shortly before the dawn of a new day, that will see the border open to freedom for all in east germany. what you are seeing now is taking place at 5:30 in the morning in berlin. berlin time. these crowds, mostly young people, have been here all night celebrating the opening of the wall, welcoming tens of thousands of east germans across to the west. tonight, germans on both sides of the berlin wall couldn't wait to test their new freedom. this was unthinkable a few hours ago. young west germans reaching out to east germans, helping them up the wall, despite police water cannons. for 28 years, the wall has been a part of berlin life.
a given. something that was just there. tonight, it symbolizes something else. the failure of an east german government to resist the wave of change rolling over soviet block nations and the sound of new freedom, the chipping away of the wall itself and the system that built it. follow us on social media for more of this date in history. good afternoon. i'm carol busey. i'm the moderator of this session on "wilmington's lie, the murderous coup of 1898 and the rise of white supremacy." it's an honor to have this book here at the southern festival and because david has won the pulitzer prize for 2021 for non-fiction for this book. it's a very i