President Coolidge and the summer of 1926

It is always fun to find something new, at least new to me, about Republican President Calvin Coolidge and his Summer White House on Osgood Pond where he and Mrs. Coolidge spent those balmy months of 1926 because so much has already been written about the place.

What I found in the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library was a story about that outgoing, popular Democrat, Governor Al Smith of New York, with Mrs. Smith, visiting the quiet, reserved President Coolidge; with the popular nickname, “Silent Cal.”

There is a story about a dinner guest one evening at the Summer White House who said to the President, “I have a bet that I can get you to say more than three words” and the President supposedly replied, “you lose.”

The Enterprise: July 7, 1926

“The Adirondacks smiled a greeting today to the distinguished son of the neighbor Green Mountain state as President and Mrs. Coolidge arrived at the summer White House on Osgood Lake, 12 miles north of the village. [Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch, Windsor County, Vermont and was said to have been very pleased when he found out that Paul Smith was a native Vermonter.]

“Reaching Gabriels station at 8:58 o’clock, two minutes ahead of scheduled time after a leisurely journey over the Adirondack Division, the President and his wife stepped from the special train into the cool, bright air of an Adirondack summer morning.

“The time of the train’s arrival was not known until last night, and many folks who had planned on a glimpse of the Executive reached the station too late. The village of Gabriels turned out in full numbers to greet the President, however, and there were more than 50 cars at the station as the train reached its destination.

“There was no formality connected with the arrival of the train. Those who had come to see the President were not restrained in any way, and they crowded around the observation car as he stepped to the platform and followed him to the waiting automobile. On the way he stopped a moment to speak to a baby held in a mother’s arms; then he and Mrs. Coolidge took their places in the auto, with the White House collies accompanying them, and they were whisked away to the camp four miles distant.”

Governor Smith arrives

[Governor and Mrs. Smith, the former Catherine Ann Dunn, had lunch with the President but stayed at Paul Smith’s Hotel.] From The Enterprise, July 16, 1926:

“Slightly delayed on their scheduled automobile trip to Paul Smith’s, the Governor’s party passed through Saranac Lake at 10:45 o’clock today at high speed.

“The entourage swept into Main Street from River Street at a fast clip, with two brown uniformed motor vehicle inspectors on motorcycles clearing traffic. Four state troopers in two cars also accompanied the four automobiles in which the Governor and Mrs. Smith and their friends were traveling.

“In anticipation of the Governor’s passing through the village and in the hope that he might stop for a moment, a crowd of several hundred had gathered along Main Street and around Berkeley Square. Traffic officers had the streets cleared and the trip through Saranac Lake was a swift one.

“After spending the night at the Deer’s Head Inn in Elizabethtown, the Governor’s party started out at about 9 o’clock this morning for Paul Smith’s, and no stops were made enroute.

“Arriving at the hotel, the Governor and Mrs. Smith immediately prepared for their visit to the Coolidge’s and soon were on their way to White Pine camp. After the luncheon at the camp the Governor planned to play golf on the Paul Smith’s course. [There is a picture in the archives of Governor Smith playing golf with Babe Ruth at Coral Gables, Florida.]

“The Governor’s party is expected to stay at the resort until Saturday, when they will probably go to Saranac Inn for the rest of the week.”

No politics and no pictures

An excerpt from the Enterprise:

“The President has refused to pose for photographs with Smith ‘I don’t see how such a photograph can be arranged’, he said.

“Politics were taboo in the luncheon conservation, it was said, but Mrs. Coolidge and Mrs. Smith found a great many topics of conversation. Both have much in common although they had never met.”