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Years ago I asked a 95 year-old gentleman in Iowa, “Who is the first president you can remember?” To my surprise he said, “Woodrow Wilson, I saw him when I was just a kid. He was riding across country on a train and stopped in Des Moines.” Amazing.

Since that time I’ve asked this question whenever I find myself with a person in their 90s or especially over 100 years. One older man remembered Hoover, another one “Silent Cal.”

It’s fun because it always triggers smiles, memories they thought they’d lost, and some pretty interesting responses. Usually they say more than just the name of the president. They talk about other things that come to mind from the same era. If they’re old enough, folks remember the first time they saw a car or rode in one.

Presidents’ terms are like that. They mark the progress of our lives and the direction of our country. People will say, “I haven’t weighed that much since the Carter Administration,” or, “I was in college during the Nixon Administration,” something like that.

Presidents’ voices are remembered too. We hear them so often in the course of four or eight years, and thereafter, that those voices are indelibly etched in our brains if not our psyche.

The first president I can remember is Dwight D. Eisenhower. I was in the 2nd Grade and can still see him in my minds eye on black and white television. I remember hearing Truman’s voice, and of course Ike’s, but Truman left office when I was just months old.

Who is the first president you can remember, and what other memories does the question, the president, or the time bring to mind?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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