"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
PRESIDENT William Howard Taft had to look before he sat: in barbers' or dentists' chairs, in bathtubs, in armchairs. His weight had maxed out at 340 pounds by 1913, according to Frederick C. Hicks in his 1945 book ''William Howard Taft, Yale Professor of Law & New Haven Citizen'' (Yale University Press).
How, then, could he squeeze into a wooden folding seat in Yale's Woolsey Hall to watch his son graduate in 1910?
He didn't have to. To accommodate the portly president (who was 5 feet 11 inches tall), carpenters enlarged seat E 9 in Woolsey Hall -- a 2,000-seat auditorium erected in honor of Yale's bicentennial in 1901.
All the other seats in Woolsey measure 18 inches wide by 17 inches deep. President Taft's measures 25 inches across and nearly 20 deep. At one event described in Mr. Hicks's book, the president forgot his ticket. None of the ushers recognized him. Nevertheless, he pressed his way down the aisle of the first balcony, said something to the protesting usher and from his front-row perch whispered across the aisle to the author's mother, ''I lost my ticket, but was fortunately able to establish my identity by the breadth of my beam and the corresponding breadth of this seat.''
~ By VALERIE CRUICE, NY Times, Nov. 19, 2000
* * *
Above: Official White House portrait of William Howard Taft in the Blue Room, 1911, oil on canvas by Anders Leonard Zorn (1860–1920), White House Collection.
My grandfather was Yale '20…My grandfather and his roommates used to recall with glee how when passing President Taft on his morning walk they would greet him with, "Good Morning Mr. President." Taft always smiled and raised his top hat in return. #