A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Wherein the Museum Piece Peers Through His Enclosing Walls

THE eighteen eighties were going well when Calvin Coolidge came out from Plymouth Notch and took his first real peek into the wide world. He came down the mountain twelve miles to Ludlow. Not that he had never journeyed so far from home before. He had been to Woodstock once or twice, fifteen miles, to see a circus, and with his lawmaking father the lad had gone to Montpelier and to Rutland, decent Vermont towns which to the child seemed like busy cities. But this trip in the mid-eighties was no casual day's journey. Boys and girls a year or so older than he were teaching school in those parts in those days. Colonel John Coolidge, country squire and local statesman, his own groom and footman, drove his son, Calvin, to Ludlow to enroll him in Black River Academy. It was a momentous journey. Important preparations preceded it. In a motherless home these preparations were difficult. New clothing was provided, as also were school texts and such impedimenta as young boys take on their school journeys. Miss Chamberlain, the hired girl, had done her motherly best to outfit the boy. And the father, being proud of him, contributed what he could without appearing prodigal. The two rode down from Plymouth to Ludlow in the Coolidge farm wagon.

More than forty years after, the boy wrote that the preparations and packing required more time and attention than he spent collecting his belongings when leaving the White House. His whole outfit went into two small handbags. And he remembers the winter snow lying on the ground in October.1

"I was casting off what I thought was the drudgery of farm life sym

____________________
1
"Autobiography," p. 32.

-23-

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