Monday, September 22, 2008

The Rest of the Calvin Coolidge Pictures

This picture reminds me of a landscape painting of a century or two past. My son had decided after lunch to run to the top of the hill in the distance and back again. This is inside the more modest birthplace house. Other options for pictures here included the bedroom where the president was born and the boots he wore when he was three, but upon review I found they lacked the human impact I was looking for compared to the old kids-by-the-spinning-wheel shot.
This is obviously a little dark, but it is an historic room. It was here, amongst these familiar scenes and this very furniture, that President Coolidge took the oath of office in August, 1923, in the middle of the night after learning of the death of his predecessor. Besides this, the room evokes so much of the atmosphere of our second tier literature and other arts from this period, the collective memory of and emotional connection to which is doubtless fading, but which minor works I find to be a great aid to one's sense of history, not only in our country, but in others as well. Authors like Booth Tarkington, Sinclair Lewis, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Thornton Wilder, James Thurber, John O'Hara, even Dorothy Parker a little. It is a world that, living where and how I do, I still encounter and even still inhabit to a certain extent.
Some nice nature in the background. The guys broke into a spontaneous dance on this picnic table for reasons that are unclear to me, though I suppose I am glad to see that their joie de vivre has not been shamed out of them yet. I had myself already largely abandoned attempts at physical expression of any kind by the age of five, and I think that was a bit early, and even crippling toomy proper development in many ways. Besides, there were no hip families around. There are never hip people at any of these kinds of historic places; the best you can hope for is an occasional buxom, nerdy-cute girl-poet type.
This is the "Coolidge Club", which is basically a large room above the general store with a bandstand at one end and a wide space for tables, games, and I suppose dancing, in the rest of the room. When Coolidge was President he used the space as his office/northern White House when he was in town for extended stays. This kind of space I think is ideal for general socializing. This is how the beer halls and gardens in Central Europe are laid out; one can easily take in/retain at least metaphysical contact with the whole room at all times, there is a more or less even distribution of energy. When you have windows you can have air circulation. The traditional American bar/house party set up allows for isolation too easily. It is of course a characteristic of the age that less and less socializing seems to go on in these public hall/legion type places.

No comments: