A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
Our Hero's Stage Is Set

THE Friday after the election, Governor-elect Coolidge went to Maine for a few days' rest. He was awakened Sunday night to hear that the Armistice had been signed. Sadly he trekked back to Boston to join in the celebration; scarcely a heroic figure, rather dolefully and dutifully following the spotlight officially accorded to him amid the general rejoicing. Certainly his election as governor did not go to his head. For a decade and a half he had been occupying that dollar and a half room at the Adams House, the forgathering place of western Massachusetts statesmen, a dingy, political hotel. When he was elected governor, he ordered the next room, and paid two dollars and a half for the two rooms. There he lived in solemn state without an executive residence. On high days and holidays Mrs. Coolidge came down to Boston. But for the most part she remained in Northampton with her boys. She was little known in the Boston of those days. There in those two connecting rooms with a bath, Governor Coolidge lived in Jeffersonian simplicity. In the right-hand lower compartment of the washstand he kept the harmless necessary bottle of Bourbon whiskey with which to regale his thirsty visitors after the custom of the day. It was in that throne room and from that washstand that he took the bottle to serve drinks to the visitors the night his election was assured. And there arose the famous story probably apocryphal of the incoming visitor who took his drink and noticed sitting on the bed an old friend to whom the Governor offered no drink. And when the later visitor expostulated, Coolidge replied:

"Bill's already had hisn!" The retort courteous of the representative of a parsimonious Yankee people!

Massachusetts makes a pageant of the inauguration of her governor.

-138-

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