Had a good visit at Spring Hill Elementary in Jeffersonville on Friday. I was there reading to some second graders for National Reading Day. Met several good folks there including the Mayor, Rob Waiz. I’m not sure if the mayor read the kids his annual budget, but I read Horton Hears a Who and Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Laundry. It was quite fun and it was cool afterward as I went to the river. The river is rather high now and flowing quite strong. With a strong westerly wind, there were white caps and large swells. It gave me some idea of what the river looked like before they went and dammed it up. Most people don’t know but in the early 19th century some people said the Falls of the Ohio was every bit as spectacular as Niagra. I’m not sure about that but its drop in elevation of 23.5 feet over about 2 miles did(does) make for some rough rapids and those rapids and rocks are the reason for Louisville’s existance.
On This Date in History William Henry Harrison was inaugurated President of the United States. He had been governor of Indiana and a famous General. In 1811, he led a mission to put down an uprising by the great Indian chief, Tecumseh. During the War of 1812, in October 1813(go figure the date and the name of the war), He faced Tecumseh again. Tecumseh had organized a bunch of Native American tribes to join with the British against the Americans. Harrison defeated the combatants in Canada and Tecumseh was killed. Legend has it that the great chief put a curse on White men. On this date in 1841, Harrison was inaugurated President. He was 68 years old and the oldest person ever elected President until Ronald Reagan 140 years later. The weather was terribly cold in Washington but Harrison not only insisted on giving a 3 hour acceptance speech outside, he also went on the parade. Harrison caught a cold that quickly turned to pneumonia and promptly died on April 4, 1841. At 31 days, Harrison’s reign as Chief Executive was the shortest of all time. What is known as “Tecumseh’s Curse” was begun. From that point on, every president elected in a year that ends in zero did not live to see the end of his presidency. 1840-Harrison(pneumonia) 1860-Lincoln (assassination) 1880-Garfield (assassination) 1900- McKinley (assassination) 1920-Harding (natural causes) 1940-Roosevelt (natural causes or stroke) 1960-JFK(assassination)…then 1980…again..Ronald Reagan shows up. The man who supplanted Harrison as the oldest President elected also was the President to break Tecumseh’s curse. An assassination attempt by John Hinckley almost kept the tragic streak going but the Gipper made a miraculous recovery to bring to an end one of the more interesting aspects of Presidential history. I think its probably safe to say that no President will ever give a 3 hour speech again nor will they walk in a parade when its 5 degrees outside.