Presidents Day: A few facts for the day off

As the Presidents Day holiday awaits us on Monday, it may be helpful to point to a new car ad on television, one that, while humorous, casts some light on the question of just how well-informed Americans are about the history of our nation’s elected chiefs.

In the ad, actors who are comically dressed as Abe Lincoln and George Washington talk about what great fuel savings they are getting, and the visual punch line is that the guy manning the gasoline pump is Benjamin Franklin.

Okay, Ben was a great American figure, but he was never president. Did the makers of the ad know that? Are they playing off their perception that consumers believe him to have once held the job?

Franklin was one of our greatest statesmen — as well as a scientist, which might explain the advertisers’ placing him in role of the actual fuel delivery, but further irony is that Ben would likely have picked apart such a notion with his famed talent at satire.

Monday, Feb. 18, is a federal holiday, and a time to consider our nation’s leaders as more than stock figures to sell products.

In some ways the presidents have to be considered as 43 of the most interesting people in American history.

For instance, Harry Truman started as a county judge, and never had a campaign slogan.

James Madison was the first president who had served as a Congressman, and his vice president was George Clinton.

Bill Clinton’s middle name, of course, is Jefferson.

William Taft, at 300 pounds the largest president ever, was also an adept dancer and tennis player.

President Obama gave his State of the Union address this week at about the same point in late January or early February as presidents traditionally do. However, the Constitution merely states that “he shall from time to time give information on the state of the union.”

The above gender designation itself presents a potential Constitutional law conundrum — reason enough to have some grounding in presidential and Executive Branch history.


Holiday closures:

The following will be closed in observance of the holiday:

Post offices

Federal, state and county offices


Hood River County School District

Hood River County libraries

Horizon Christian School


The Hood River Aquatic Center will hold open swim from 1-3:30 p.m. and 6:30-8.

Hood River Garbage will be running on its usual schedule, and its office will be open.

The Hood River News office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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