(Host) This week, commentator Cyndy Bittinger is sampling a collection of the private letters of Grace Goodhue Coolidge. The letters were recently given to the Coolidge Foundation in Plymouth by her family and are being made available to scholars and the public for the first time.
Grace Coolidge was a Burlington native who became First Lady when her husband Calvin Coolidge, a native of Plymouth, became the 30th President of the United States. Today, we hear about hear about Grace Coolidge’s plans for the 4th of July and her deep love of family.
(Bittinger) On January 2, 1929, John Coolidge, at age 22, wrote his mother from New Haven, CT where he was working with the New Haven Railroad, on the day before her birthday:
“Just to let you know I’m thinking of you on your birthday and loving you as no boy has ever loved his mother.
Every happiness I know, or ever will know, is enhanced a thousand fold by your love and care. Your own, Johnny.”
After he was engaged to Florence Trumbull, Grace penned a very excited letter on May 15, 1929:
“Johnny! I guess I am as excited as Florence. I can hardly realize the good news is true – even yet. Not a word from father – I shall not mention it until he does. – It certainly is wonderful! I cannot fully express myself until I can get hold of the two of you and squeeze you! My but I love you and believe I’m the happiest Mother on earth.”
On June 19, 1929, she writes again:
“John, you are a son for a mother to be proud of and I want you to always feel that I am standing by ready to do anything for you and Florence. You two together should make something very beautiful of your lives.
“Just don’t let little things be-cloud your vision and when the rough places have to be gotten over hold your chin up, throw your shoulders back and go forward – for it’s the rough places which steady the feet and strengthen the muscles – life is so beautiful – never do anything which will mar the sweetness of it. So shall each year bring you new appreciation of it.
“Truly, how I love you – and now I want you to find in life all that is just and true and right and live it gloriously!”
Forty seven years ago today, as Grace Coolidge was nearing the end of her life, she wrote:
“Dearest John, Your thought of me on these anniversary days means more than I can put into words. Lydia has called you ‘the best father in the world.’ I know that you are the best and most thoughtful son.”
She continues and says she hopes they celebrate the Fourth in some interesting way. She plans to take an afternoon and listen to baseball.
John and Florence raised two daughters, Cynthia and Lydia, and Grace called them her “precious four” spending holidays and vacations with them, often in Plymouth.
Today, Coolidge family members will once again gather in Plymouth Notch for a public celebration to commemorate the birthday of Calvin Coolidge, the birthday of our republic, to picnic and to listen to music.
This is Cyndy Bittinger documenting the Coolidge legacy and wishing you a happy Fourth of July.
Cyndy Bittinger is Executive Director of The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She spoke from our studio in Norwich. On Saturday we’ll hear some of her observations about nature, and an unpublished poem.