Commentary: Periscope: Presidents Day Is Here: Get Your Scissors

Article excerpt

If you're old enough, you remember that George Washington's birthday was Feb. 22 and when we were in grade school we celebrated it by cutting his silhouette out of construction paper. The construction paper was often red, in apparent tribute to the infamous cherry tree or, possibly, because that was the color teachers still had on hand when we stopped cutting out Valentine's Day hearts.

If you remember that, you likely remember that Abraham Lincoln's birthday was Feb. 12 and was also celebrated with the traditional cutting of the silhouette. Their birthdays never once fell on the same day until we invented Presidents Day and now everyone's birthday is on Monday. I have no idea what we're doing with all the leftover construction paper.

This being the week of the hereinabove mentioned Monday, I'm serving up some things you didn't know about your presidents.

Martin Van Buren was the first president who was born as a U.S. citizen. All his predecessors were born British subjects.

James Garfield was the first president to talk on the phone. On the other end was Alexander Graham Bell, who was 13 miles away. Garfield is known to have asked Bell to speak more slowly. The rumor that he asked for more construction paper is merely speculative.

The first president inaugurated in Washington, D.C., was Thomas Jefferson.

Bushusuru is a fairly new Japanese word that refers to vomiting in public. Literally it means to do the Bush thing, a reference to when then-president George H.W. Bush became ill and threw up on the prime minister of Japan.

The largest president was William Howard Taft, at 325 pounds.

The shortest president was James Madison, who stood 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed just 100 pounds. Lincoln, at 6 feet, 4 inches, was tallest.

The shortest inaugural speech, 133 words, was made by George Washington and given in less than two minutes. …