Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why Someone Should Write a Novel About First Lady Grace Coolidge

Eleanor Roosevelt. Jackie Kennedy. Hilary Clinton. Those are the names most often heard when folks talk about first ladies. Those are the ladies we think of the most.

Grace Coolidge. Can't say that name has ever been at the forefront of my mind. I have a coworker to thank for inadvertently bringing this former first lady to my attention. It all started with her US Mint (coin) catalog. In it, I saw a coin with the finger spellings of USA on one side. The front of this coin, however, has a picture of Grace Coolidge. "What did this first lady have to do with the deaf?" I wondered.

The answer: she was a lip-reading instructor at the Clarke School for the Deaf. 

It was at this very school that she met Calvin Coolidge, her future husband. She was apparently watering the flowers one day when she looked up at the next-door boarding house and saw her future husband and president of the U.S. shaving in front of a mirror in his long underwear, a hat, and nothing else. Her laughter caught his attention...and love story takes off from there. Even as a first lady, her interest in the education and methods of communication for the deaf and hard of hearing continued.

Coolidge was at first a Vice President. His lovely wife was said to be an excellent hostess, the most popular lady in the capitol. She was voted one of America's twelve greatest living women in 1931 in Good Housekeeping and received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Science as well as an honorary degree from Smith.

There's something secretive too, in her college years. She had to drop out and live with a widowed aunt due to some "health problem". And of course, every marriage has its strife. It seems the president perhaps put her under strict orders not to share her opinions with the American public, giving the impression she had no opinion, which I seriously doubt was the case. She may have had some influence behind closed doors, however. There was also a tiny hint of scandal or an incident blown out of proportion with a handsome single secret service agent. Her husband may have had a jealous streak, evident perhaps also in the fact he would not let her take a flight with the dashing Charles Lindbergh.

She was the mother of two children, was involved extensively in the Red Cross and loved animals and sports.

There's a lot that could be done with a novel about this remarkable lady. Come on, historical writers!

Read more about her here. I found this site to be the most enlightening and educational. They also share a remarkable video of Mrs. Coolidge meeting Helen Keller. Photos are from Wiki Commons.

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