Friday, March 14, 2008

Black is a great color--it sets off your wig!

A great perk to my job is the artwork produced by hundreds of tiny (and not so tiny) hands. The women who have lived here for over a hundred years have paintings and ceramic statues in the upstairs Residence; beautiful, hand-sewn quilts are constantly produced for baptisms, baby showers, and wedding gifts. In the schools, students decorate the hallways for dances and Spirit Week (this January it was superheroes). Art projects are proudly displayed to parents and friends. But it’s the little kids’ work that I enjoy the most. My old office used to be closer to those classrooms and it was always a joy to run an errand that direction—dancing paper leprechauns stand outside the kinder room, homage to Monet flower gardens done in tissue paper crowd around another door, and state maps wallpaper another corner.

Every winter, though, we’re treated to a surprise on the upper most floor—The Hall of Presidents. You can tell these kids spent quite a bit of time making them. I love every one of them. I’m assuming that there is a corresponding paper to each portrait but I’ve never seen them. I can deduce, though, what might have been on the paper…

George Washington, 1789-1797

Everyone knows that George Washington served as a general in the American Revolution and was voted unanimously as the first president of our country. What many don’t know is that he loved Quaker oatmeal. Would eat it night and day.

John Adams, 1797-1801

John Adams, our second president, was instrumental to creating the Declaration of Independence. He was the first president to move into the new White House located in Washington, DC. Sources say he is the great, great, great grandfather to the Hensen Muppets.

Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809

What hasn’t been said of the great Thomas Jefferson? Writer of the Declaration of Independence at 33, served as the minister to France in 1785, built the impressive Monticello estate, and made the smartest real estate purchase in the history of the country. He often performed concerts on the White House lawn as Ziggy Stars-And-StripesDust.

John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829

Son of President John Adams, John Quincy served under President Monroe as Secretary of State and helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine. No candidate for the 1825 election had the majority of electoral votes, so John Quincy’s appointment was decided by the House of Representatives. Upon becoming President, Andrew Jackson (who had lost the election), charged that a “corrupt bargain” had taken place and began an earnest campaign to wrest the Presidency from Adams. Historians now believe the “corrupt bargain” was in fact a pact with the netherworld; he lived the remainder of his days as an undead zombie.

Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837

Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; in his first message to Congress he recommended eliminating the Electoral College which lost him his bid for presidency before. The current Democratic party grew from political discussions during this era. Hostile cartoons circulated calling him King Andrew I. There was, perhaps, a bit of royalty within him; presidential biographers are uncertain if he is related to the King of Pop or Don King.

William Henry Harrison, 1841

The Whigs, the other political party to develop during President Jackson’ term of office, nominated Harrison in 1840. He won by a majority of less than 150,000 but swept the Electoral College vote, 234 to 60. Les than a month in office, he developed pneumonia and died in office. Funeral attendees included Pikachu, Vampire Hunter D, and Sailor Moon.

Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853

Under President Fillmore’s term, California was admitted as a free state, the Texas/Mexico boundary was settled, and the slave trade abolished in the District of Columbia. Despite these achievements, President Fillmore could still not find a pair of sunglasses that fit.

Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1881

The closest election in history, Rutherford B. Hayes went to bed thinking that his democratic rival had won. Hayes election depended upon contested electoral votes in Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida (can anyone say déjà-vu?). The final electoral vote: 185 to 184. His first action? To banish wines and liquors from the White House. This may explain his fondness for prancing in the forest singing, “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m okay.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909

After the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt became the youngest President at age 42. Before he came to office, he served as a lieutenant colonel of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. Some say he was more comfortable in the saddle, then sitting in the Oval Office. He is most often remembered for saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick of sun tan lotion.” Near the end of his tenure, however, he had an unfortunate run-in with an Amazon Witch Doctor; many historians claim he was the first Flower Child. Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921 Woodrow Wilson campaigned for President on a New Freedom program which stressed individualism and states’ rights. In 1917, President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. After the Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris and crafted the Versailles Treaty, the beginnings of the League of Nations. While abroad, he reveled in his androgyny, singing “Wilkimmen, beinvenue, welcome, im cabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret!” In his spare time he built computer consoles.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961

Eisenhower had a prestigious career in the military during World War II. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in 1942; two years later he was responsible for the D-Day landing in France. After the war, he worked for NATO until he was persuaded to run for President in 1952. As President, he continued most of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs started by his predecessors, and ordered the desegregation of schools and the armed forces; the soul patch he sported illustrated his solidarity.

John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963

The youngest President to serve, Kennedy was also the youngest to die in office by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas. He was dedicated to human rights, promoted the Peace Corps, and called for new civil rights legislation. After the Bay of Pigs, he proposed a nuclear test ban treaty and promised to land a man on the moon. He is sometimes mistaken for his brother, Ted Kennedy, mislabeled in this picture. Richard Nixon, 1969-1974

During his term of office, President Nixon ended the fighting in Viet Nam and improved relations with the USSR and China. When the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon challenged government officials. “I know nothing, I didn’t see anything, I wasn’t there, and if I was there, I was asleep.” In the end, he made America an offer we can’t refuse and resigned from office.

James Carter, 1977-1981

A peanut farmer in his youth, President Carter worked hard to combat an energy shortage, improve the national park system, increase social services, settle differences between Egypt and Israel, and bring home US hostages held in Iran. Some historians, however, claim that Carter is much older than he looks, pointing to portraits of Jimmy “Lestat” Carter from the 18th century and stating that he wears high-collared jackets to hide tell-tale vampire bite marks.

Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989

Actor turned politician, President Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength,” increasing defense spending by 35%. After seeing a George Lucas film he was heard to ask, “How much would one of those Death Stars cost?” Shortly after President Reagan took office in 1981, he was shot by a would-be assassin. It’s said he developed his love of karaoke during his hospital recovery.

William Clinton, 1993-2001

President Clinton was the first Democratic president to win a second term of office since Franklin D. Roosevelt and sought legislation to reform the country’s health care system. Even though he dispatched peace keeping forces to war torn countries and campaigned against drug trafficking, President Clinton’s lifelong goal was never realized. It is said that he was bitterly disappointed when he did not get the part to play the saxophone-playing child in The Simpsons.

George W. Bush, 2001-

In his second term of office, the Blue Fairy appeared and tapped President Bush with her wand. He jumped up, exclaiming, “I’m not a puppet. I’m a real boy!”